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Posted at 12:30 PM ET, 03/ 7/2011

Should global warming send us to the bunker?

By Andrew Freedman

Last Sunday, the Washington Post ran a provocative essay on the front page of the "Outlook" section by climate activist Mike Tidwell, executive director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. In it, Tidwell reveals the lengths to which he is going to prepare himself and his family for what he sees as the now inevitable consequences of climate change. For example, he is stockpiling food, testing guns, and invested in an emergency generator - all in an effort to stave off social unrest that he sees coming down the pike due to climate change-related extreme weather events.

Bunker photo by Kim Newberg.

The essay is surprising - and completely misleading - in two main respects.

First, Tidwell never mentions the fact that there are a plethora of options available to national, state and local governments - not to mention families - to help cushion the potential impacts from climate change. This is actually an entire, growing field within climate policy, known as climate change adaptation (slowing manmade climate change or stopping it entirely falls into the "mitigation" category).

Given that society is already experiencing some impacts from climate change, such as an enhanced likelihood of heavy precipitation events and sea-level rise, increased attention is being directed to adaptation efforts. The Obama administration, for example, has directed the federal government to factor climate change impacts into planning for everything from national parks management to constructing new infrastructure projects, and established a climate change adaptation task force to coordinate efforts.

Tidwell, however, seems to be taking adaptation to the extreme, while claiming to be a climate change "realist."

"I coach Little League and go to church on Sundays and contribute to a 401(k). I'm normal," Tidwell writes. "But wouldn't even a level-headed person want to be ready to defend his family if climate chaos goes to the max?"

Yes, a level-headed person should be ready to protect his or her family. However, the way to deal with climate change is not by putting bars on your windows and investing in firearm training, but rather by factoring climate change into more reasoned decision-making. Thus, rather than buying a beachfront home, you might consider living further inland due to the expected effects of sea-level rise. Rather than saving money by not purchasing flood insurance, you might fork over some extra cash in light of scientific findings that climate change has tipped the odds in favor of heavy precipitation events.

As Dan Sarewitz, a professor of science policy at Arizona State University, wrote in response to Tidwell's essay: "Societies actually have abundant tools at their disposal for reducing vulnerability to weather and climate - building codes, land-use planning, insurance programs, poverty-reduction polices, and so on - and much capacity for wielding those tools more effectively, should they focus on doing so. Sending families into their basements is not on that list (except during tornadoes!)."

Instead of discussing smart ways to reduce the impacts of climate change, Tidwell has skipped about a gazillion steps, and gone straight into a bunker mentality - quite literally. I highly doubt this will be productive for the climate movement he is a part of, but more important to me is the question of whether it is scientifically justified.

This brings me to the second key flaw in Tidwell's essay, and it is one that should not have slipped past the Post's editors. Several times in his piece, Tidwell claims or strongly implies that recent extreme weather events were caused by climate change. Here is what he says about severe thunderstorms in the Washington area last summer:

It wasn't the wildfires that blackened much of Russia last summer that led me to buy my portable generator, nor the unspeakable rains in Pakistan that inundated nearly a quarter of that country. It was the one-two punch of thunderstorms that blew through the D.C. area on July 25 and Aug. 12 of last year. The first storm, with wind gusts of 90 mph, knocked out power to 400,000 people and generated a wave of lightning that, by a freak tragedy, killed my friend Carl Henn at a community picnic in Rockville.

Also on the topic of extreme weather events and climate change, Tidwell states:

The proof is everywhere - outside my front door, in my neighborhood, on the news. After a decade of failure to address climate change at the national and international levels, our weather has gone haywire. In the Washington region alone, in barely a year, we've annihilated all records for snow accumulation, we've seen appalling power outages associated with year-round thunderstorms, and we've experienced the hottest summer in the 140 years we've been measuring. Winston Churchill's oft-quoted warning on the eve of World War II now applies directly: "The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences."
Those consequences explain the generator in my garage and why I'm reinforcing my basement windows to protect emergency supplies.

Later he states: "And yes, major snowfall events are increasing in the eastern United States even as the planet warms, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration."

Tying every extreme weather event to climate change may serve Tidwell's argument that we're now in an "age of consequences" from climate change, but it's scientifically inaccurate. The fact is that climate scientists have not discovered any conclusive links between a warming climate and thunderstorm activity, let alone severe thunderstorms.

Furthermore, while there are sound physical science reasons to think that heavy snowfall may become more common in a warming world - a seemingly paradoxical relationship at first glance - no conclusive evidence has emerged here either. As we've covered extensively on this blog, multiple factors contributed to last winter's record snows, including the naturally occurring North Atlantic Oscillation and an El Nino event in the Pacific.

Scientists are studying whether the loss of Arctic sea ice may be changing atmospheric circulation to such a degree that it is making colder, snowier winters more likely in the eastern U.S. and parts of Europe. But they have not stated that there is already an observable increase in major snowfall events in the eastern U.S., and no reference is provided in the Outlook piece to support that assertion.

Tidwell's essay is essentially the opposite of Post columnist George Will's notoriously inaccurate portrayals of climate change, which come from a climate change contrarian point of view, intent on convincing the reader to move along, that there is nothing to see here, and manmade climate change is not a big deal - if it even exists.

Tidwell is clearly saying, "it's time to freak out about global warming." But like Will has done on occasion, he twists facts to support his case, which should not be permitted - even in the paper's opinion section.

The views expressed here are the author's alone and do not represent any position of the Washington Post, its news staff or the Capital Weather Gang.

By Andrew Freedman  | March 7, 2011; 12:30 PM ET
Categories:  Climate Change, Freedman, Latest, Science  
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I read that essay and found it pretty disturbing. Not the author's conclusions but his sheer irrationality. It was just the kind of thing to make climate change deniers roll their eyes with derision - with good reason. It was entirely unhelpful as a contribution to rational discussion (this excellent rebuttal notwithstanding).

It was pretty clear that the author has gotten himself so worked up with irrational fear that he sees absolutely every weather event as a harbinger of impending doom. That he mentioned commutageddon as one of his proofs was laughable since that was a pretty minor event that just had very bad timing and perfect conditions to produce very slippery roads.

He reminds of of fundamentalists Christians who are convinced that everything is a sign that we're in the end times. The whole essay just made me sorry for him and for his family. Climate change is happening and should be taken seriously but that essay had far more to do with pathology than with climatology.

Posted by: Chip_M | March 7, 2011 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Its not the CO2 its the added energy photons caused by Earth rotation, gravity and planetary eccentricity that is causing the cyclical ( daily and 30 years warming 30 years cooling) global warming.
Mother Nature proves this daily when the number of photons decreases every night and the temperature goes DOWN, even though man increases the CO2.
Man can do nothing about this. He can not change the amount of energy coming into the Earth, unless he can control gravity.
SO stop wasting money on a phenomenon that can NOT be changed.

Posted by: JDoddsGW | March 7, 2011 1:04 PM | Report abuse

I agree, climate change is something we can probably handle as a society in a calm, rational way. Now peak oil, on the other hand...

Posted by: verbatim | March 7, 2011 1:06 PM | Report abuse

If the author hadn't acted as he did his story wouldn't have been published.

He got publicity for his point of view and hopes that more people will conclude that climate change is happening and is bad (I agree with that).

He probably figures if he changes a few minds it is worth building a bunker.

Posted by: Pensfans | March 7, 2011 1:06 PM | Report abuse

The good to come of Tidwell's deranged rantings is that it forced Andrew to write a reasonably balanced essay.

Posted by: eric654 | March 7, 2011 1:29 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: wiredog | March 7, 2011 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Any chance Andrew's article, in response to Tidwell's rant, can be put in the Post's 'Outlook' section? Would be nice to read something rationale there for once.

Posted by: parksndc | March 7, 2011 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Maybe he can use the bunkers of all those people who thought the world was gonna end because of the Y2K bug. People actually quit their jobs and went into bunkers before that non-event.

Posted by: rwalker66 | March 7, 2011 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Eric564, I'll take a compliment from you when I can get it :)

Posted by: afreedma | March 7, 2011 2:05 PM | Report abuse

It would be useful for commentors to go back and look at extent to which people prepared for nuclear war in the '50s and 60s. The point is not that nuclear war hasn't yet occurred, but rather, mania such as these take hold on a segment of the population and won't let go. When I was in high school, the family with the biggest bomb shelter in our neighborhood lost their father to jay-walking. In any given group, 2% are loosely anchored to reality pretty much 24/7. That doesn't mean they can't be right...

Posted by: cawpost | March 7, 2011 2:15 PM | Report abuse

You would think he would still have many of those "survivalist" necessities left over in his bunker from Y2K.

Posted by: slim21 | March 7, 2011 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Andrew Freedman does disagree with Mike Tidwell's rant but he doesn't go far enough. Tidwell may not go to church, he may not even believe in a sky-god, but even so, he is a religious nut and like all religious nuts he is convinced that we humans are very, very important in this universe. He is also convinced that today, the time in which he happens to be alive, is highly significant. Climate Armageddon's a comin' soon y'know. It is, really!

Helloooooooo, reality calling! Even IF every one of Tidwell's weather observations was 100% accurate, that is still, statistically totally insignificant when viewed against the time-scale our planet lives by. If Earth's 4.5 billion year history is represented by a period of exactly 24 hours, then the last 5,000 years, virtually all of recorded human history, is represented by the last tenth of the last second of that 24 hours!

Chill out Mr Tidwell. A little bit of humility and doubt from you and your alarmist friends would not go amiss.

Posted by: babybearsporridge | March 7, 2011 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Believe me, it is time to freak out and consider "survivalist" necessities, but not because of climate change. Stay tuned later this week for follow on post, as mentioned, to "Solar Flare 2011: Aurora alert"

Posted by: ensemblemean | March 7, 2011 4:14 PM | Report abuse

I'm with Tidwell on this. With storm events becoming more severe, and scientists now tying extreme precipitation to climate change, you need to think about personal safety. And, the situation will continue to degrade until we decarbonize. And, I don't see that happening at all.

Posted by: JackW3 | March 7, 2011 4:19 PM | Report abuse

What I don't get from Mr. Tidwell's essay is that he's employing acute solutions for chronic future problems, some of which are almost certainly not coming true. Even if the heartland is not able to grow food, Substitute crops can be developed or farming techniques can be altered. We have time. More Canadian land may be arable and we can buy from them.

BTW, Iowa produces predominately feed grain and soybean for oil, so losing it as an agricultural resource will mean less meat, pork, and oil in fried and processed foods. That's not necessarily a bad thing.

Posted by: kperl | March 7, 2011 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Looks like some tree trimming in Mr. Tidwell's neighborhood to minimize damage to power lines might help some. So would reading the weather report before trying to commute in a snow storm. Two things that would be much more useful than going frothy about CO2.

The 'sea level rise' is up to about two or three inches and even those measurements are questionable. Likely the sea level rise this year will be negative, but I wonder if any alarmists will notice. Is a negative sea level rise sort of like more snow due to global warming?

The alarmists keep going on about a warmer globe causing more moisture that causes more snow in the winter. Would have been a little more credible if Al Gore had mentioned it in his movie, or the rest of the alarmists had 'remembered' to mention it when they were talking about children who wouldn't know what snow was like.

How otherwise rational people can so easily buy into the propaganda that more and less rain, more and less snow, more and less droughts, more and less storms, and even colder than normal winters all are symptoms of a world that is warming due to CO2 is mysterious. Anything a Government scientist says is true must surely be true, even if the predictions of doom and gloom have been wrong for more than twenty years now.

At least we aren't yet paying significantly more for electricity, gasoline, home heating fuel, and everything produced in this country due to carbon taxes. And by the time the next election rolls around we will have had another round of normal seasonal variability; most likely on the cooler side, to temper the alarmist rants.

Posted by: AGWsceptic99 | March 7, 2011 8:23 PM | Report abuse

All this climate hysteria has been taking place, while in my mind the facts are these:

Yes, there has been a degree or two of warming over the past hundred years. But the warming is not accelerating, it has actually leveled off the past ten years.

Yes, we do get snowstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes, thunderstorms, floods, etc. in the DC area. But we have had good examples of all of the above throughout recorded history and there is very little happening now that hasn't happened many times before.

Yes, we should reduce pollution and develop alternative energy. No, we do not need to reduce our standard of living, build bunkers and promote the hysteria of comic book scenarios and grade B sci fi disaster movies.

Posted by: frontieradjust | March 7, 2011 8:48 PM | Report abuse

I have to admit, I enjoyed reading World Made By Hand by Kunstler... set in the "not too distant future" with weird weather and a near breakdown of society. Quick read with short chapters if you're in to that sort of thing...

Posted by: spgass1 | March 7, 2011 9:15 PM | Report abuse

anybody have any idea what JDoddsGW means by this?!

"Its not the CO2 its the added energy photons caused by Earth rotation, gravity and planetary eccentricity that is causing the cyclical ( daily and 30 years warming 30 years cooling) global warming."

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 7, 2011 10:00 PM | Report abuse

While long-term mitigation/adaptation programs may eventually provide some relief from climate problems, they won't keep your sump-pump, refrigerator, or furnace fan running during a multi-day power outage. Mr. Tidwell is making prudent preparations to deal with short-term consequences of long-term problems.

Posted by: Physical_Security_Spec | March 7, 2011 10:05 PM | Report abuse

Peer-reviewed physics published in 2010 by the National Academy of Sciences itself, the most reputable body of science on Earth:

"An adaptability limit to climate change due to heat

"The Health Effects of Hotter Days and Nights"

Quote by study author:
"The wet-bulb temperatures we are talking about would have a feels-like, or heat-index, temperature of between 170 to 196 degrees Fahrenheit."

Their finding?

IF the global temperature average increases 7-12 degrees Celsius FROM ANY COMBINATION OF CAUSES - very possible over as soon as just the next couple or so centuries - THEN global humidity is driven so high that much if not most of Earth experiences daytime heat-index temperatures during the hot months of almost 200 degrees Fahrenheit, not seen on Earth for tens of million of years. (The research's map shows the affected areas including at least all the tropics and sub-tropics - most of the Americas and all of Africa and southern Asia including India and most of China.)

Note 1: They did not say that there will be a global temperature average increase of 7-12 degrees Celsius. They only looked at the physics of what would happen to global humidity and the resulting heat index temperatures with such a global temperature increase, and its survivability by all warm-blooded life like mammals (including humans) and birds requiring evaporation to survive heat.

Note 2: Global humidity has ALREADY increased 4 percent just since 1970 because of global warming.

Modern warm-blooded life like mammals (including humans) and birds requiring evaporation to survive heat evolved only after Earth cooled from the super high heat indexes of tens of millions of years ago.

Such life experiences distress within minutes and death within just a few hours when exposed to such super-high heat indexes.

Heat-indexes of almost 200 degrees Fahrenheit over the next couple or so centuries would kill off all such life (and almost all wildlife via sufficient food-chain destruction) over much if not most of Earth, which becomes a dead zone, devoid of all mammals (including humans), birds, and most of the rest of breathing life - the end of human civilization, the killing of billions of humans. (Russia lets in all those many billions in southern Asia including India and China - and the much smaller inhabitable global land mass left for humans supports all those extra billions?)

"Armageddon" no longer requires violent events like nukes or asteroid strikes: Blanketing much if not most of Earth with super-deadly heat and humidity that could be caused by unchecked, massive CO2 spewing is all it needs.

Physics is warning humanity about an apocalyptic end to much if not most of breathing life on Earth without even a single violent event.

We must be determined to heed the warning.

Posted by: Keefanda | March 8, 2011 12:47 AM | Report abuse

instead of looking at smart ways to help us live in a clean environment (even though the air is cleaner than any time in the last 30 years), liberals want us to believe in global warming cuz they have an agenda:
climate control
govt influence.

Posted by: MemyselfI2 | March 8, 2011 3:33 AM | Report abuse

Tidwell, seems to be overreacting. The more I read about C02 levels- I am becoming very fearful as well. Climate sensitivity as a factor has been way underestimated at this point.

By 2020- Tidwell's efforts may have some merit. And by 2030 he may be considered a 'pioneer'.

Right now there is a small bit of uncertainty about climate inertia- or how long that warming in the pipeline will take to hit us. Of course the foolish thing is to keep pumping C02 into the sky at the frightening rate we are now- that has to end.

The window to stop dangerous climate change has past- the window to prevent extremely dangerous climate change is still open- till about 2030- beyond that- its going to become very dicey- by then Tidwell may be proven right.

Posted by: sleepership | March 8, 2011 6:08 AM | Report abuse

"Given that society is already experiencing some impacts from climate change, such as an enhanced likelihood of heavy precipitation events and sea-level rise"

Just listen to the language, how can we experience something that hasn't happened? There is no justification for either of these claims that exist only in a computer model.

I am also considering buying a generator, because of the foolish energy policies perpetrated by government.

Posted by: Harbinger1 | March 8, 2011 6:56 AM | Report abuse

I agree, climate change is something we can probably handle as a society in a calm, rational way. Now peak oil, on the other hand...
Posted by: verbatim | March 7, 2011 1:06 PM

Amen, brother. I'm much more concerned about the effect peak oil could have on society than climate change. We're an adaptive species, I think we can work out a way to survive changes that occur on the time scale of multiple decades to centuries or millennia. As every financial "bubble" and recession has shown, we're not so good at predicting and mitigating the effects of uncontrollable market forces on the global economy.

Posted by: wappledoo | March 8, 2011 8:17 AM | Report abuse

Walter, you asked about "the added energy photons caused by Earth rotation, gravity and planetary eccentricity". It is explained by John Dodds elsewhere on the internet, just google for "gravity causes climate change". I've read it before, it has to do with the conversion of gravitational potential energy into kinetic energy. One problem with the theory is that planetary gravity is very weak so not likely a factor. Lunar gravity is relatively much stronger, but still much weaker than other energy fluxes and lunar cycles don't match up with observed temperature changes. I think the theory can be dismissed for lack of evidence at this point.

Keefanda, you said "Global humidity has ALREADY increased 4 percent just since 1970 because of global warming." Here's a paper: showing decreasing RH over most of that time period. You also said "They did not say that there will be a global temperature average increase of 7-12 degrees Celsius. They only looked at the physics of what would happen to global humidity..." IOW, garbage in, garbage out. Quite frankly, your weather and climate knowledge is about as bad as John Dodd's knowledge of physics and climate. Just as there is "no way" that Jupiter's gravity affects earth's weather, there is also "no way" that heat indexes will ever reach 200F on earth. Your writings are starting to make Tidwell look normal.

Posted by: eric654 | March 8, 2011 8:51 AM | Report abuse

i see conspiracy theory is alive and well.

"it's the government, trying to take my money away..."

thanks for replying. i pretty much knew there was nothing to the gravity theory of global warming... that's a pretty funny, creative, theory though. it hasn't even made it onto john cook's "skeptical science" radar. gravity.... hahaha... sounds like dodds accepts that the globe is warming, but to blame it on gravity is just comical. gravity's not changing... maybe he thinks words like "photon" and "eccentricity" lend gravitas to his funny theories...

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 8, 2011 11:27 AM | Report abuse

@ eric654 | March 8, 2011 8:51 AM

To follow-up my Keefanda | March 8, 2011 12:47 AM

Here is a sample of what all the peer-reviewed physics on water vapor changes taken together say, including more recent physics (this includes reports on this physics even though the reports themselves are not peer-reviewed research papers): Surface and Lower-Tropospheric Water Vapour
"Given observed SST increases, this implies an overall increase in water vapour of order 5% over the 20th century and about 4% since 1970."

Trends in tropospheric humidity from reanalysis systems
"All of the other reanalyses show that decadal warming is accompanied by increases in mid and upper tropospheric specific humidity."

You claim that "there is also "no way" that heat indexes will ever reach 200F on earth."

You are flat out wrong.

You claim that something is impossible when it actually is observed to happen.

Although heat indexes of close to 200 F have not been seen on Earth for tens of millions of years to any meaningful extent, they still are seen:

The authors of that peer-reviewed physics I cited, published by the National Academy of Sciences itself, point out that such heat and humidity combinations, such heat indexes of somewhat under 200 F which are associated with what are called WET BULB temperatures of at least 95 degrees F, actually sometimes have been observed very rarely in modern times for very short periods of time in some small, remote areas, these including small, remote, and VERY hot parts of Saudi Arabia next to the sea where the humidity is at or close to 100 percent and yet the actual thermometer temperature is still very high.

The authors point out that the global average temperatures of some tens of millions of years ago were at times very high, much higher than now, and that at these times they were in the range they examined in their research.

I have a degree in mathematics, and I know the mathematics of the physics involved. If you have something cogent to say regarding the mathematics of the physics involved here, then let's here it.

You can complain about garbage in, garbage out all you want, but unless you have contrary ideas about the physics of what would happen to global humidity and the related heat indexes from a 7-12 Celsius global temperature increase that are good enough to get past referees at reputable journals publish such physics, then your denials of this reputably published peer-reviewed physics are in the same category as denials of reputably published peer-reviewed evolutionary science (which for I know, you deny as well).

I recommend that people reject peer-reviewed-science-denying crankery, and stick to the mathematical science that is good enough to get by referees at reputable journals to become reputably published peer-reviewed research.

Posted by: Keefanda | March 8, 2011 3:11 PM | Report abuse

As with any rational issue, the truth usually lies somewhere in between.

In the case of global warming, it's probably somewhere between no effect and the comic book/B horror movie scenarios of those on the gravy train who need to justify their salaries in a time of horrific deficits.

There is still an open question as to whether any of this is serious or not.

Posted by: frontieradjust | March 8, 2011 4:07 PM | Report abuse

why do you think eric denies evolution?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 8, 2011 4:45 PM | Report abuse

To Whom It May Concern,

Francis Zwiers, who co-authored a paper Andrew Freedman reviewed last month and whom Brian Vastag quoted in the Post about the paper, testified to Congress today. The written part of his testimony is here:

In his oral testimony, apparently he tried to explain fractional attribution to the Congresspeople. Well, give him a gold star for effort, anyway.

Posted by: imback | March 8, 2011 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Keefanda, you are pointing out a completely irrelevant phenomenon. If I dump a pot of water on my wood stove, I can get a momentary heat index of 200. That has the same relevance as dumping some water on a hot surface in Saudi Arabia, i.e. none.

Starting off simply: for a heat index of 200 we need 100% humidity at 100 degrees (or a bit higher). Calculator is at Ask any of the weathermen here how realistic that is, maybe the UCS scientists left convection or the oceans out of their model.

Water vapor is much lighter than air and rise (convection). It depends on the vertical temperature profile and related variables. As the air rises wind rises to fill in the gap, which increases evaporation which decreases temperature. The mixing ratio (see for calculator) at 100 degrees and 100% humidity is 43 g/kg That is basically impossible except in the unrealistic water on a hot plate cases I mentioned above. This paper shows how just about anything above 10 turns into extreme rainfall (or is a temporary part of that convective process)

Finally an alarmist, but more factual, model shows the heat index maxing out at 115 for 4x CO2

I'm sure Steve will correct any mistakes in the above, but in a nutshell the 200 heat index is fictional.

Posted by: eric654 | March 8, 2011 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Walter, I didn't see the evolution thing, but now I do. I think he meant "for all I know" which by the evidence so far is not much at least in terms of common sense about weather, carbon cycle, etc. How much does CO2 concentration matter when the dew point is 100? Ans: not much. What happens when the dew point is 100? Ans: big thunderstorm. Seems simple to me.

Posted by: eric654 | March 8, 2011 7:41 PM | Report abuse

@ eric654 March 8, 2011 7:27 PM:

Referring to my
March 8, 2011 12:47 AM
March 8, 2011 3:11 PM:

I quote again the study author:
"The wet-bulb temperatures we are talking about would have a feels-like, or heat-index, temperature of between 170 to 196 degrees Fahrenheit."

Here is another report on the study (I gave a link in my earlier post to the study itself):
""We found that a warming of 12 degrees Fahrenheit would cause some areas of the world to surpass the wet-bulb temperature limit, and a 21-degree warming would put half of the world's population in an uninhabitable environment," Huber said.

Again, these are the heat indexes associated with a WET BULB temperature of 95 degrees F, which is 35 degrees C.

The highest wet bulb temperatures we commonly see today at the max are around 30 degrees C, still high enough to kill people and other mammals, which die from heat stress all the time. It's only going to get ever-increasingly worse over time.

This 35 degree C wet bulb temperature is not survivable by a warm-blooded animal like you or me or any other mammal. (Camels? I doubt it.) The heat and humidity combination is so high that even if you are standing naked surrounded by giant fans, the evaporation rate would not be able to bleed off enough heat fast enough to keep you from dying within hours. The air blowing on you would actually feel hot - it would not be cooling.

And a very recent report:

Science stunner: On our current emissions path, CO2 levels in 2100 will hit levels last seen when the Earth was 29?F (16?C) hotter
Paleoclimate data suggests CO2 "may have at least twice the effect on global temperatures than currently projected by computer models"

By the way, in general, your mathematical "argument" that a wet bulb temp of 95 degrees F or 35 degrees C is physically impossible reminds me of William Dembski's mathematical "arguments" that evolution (real evolution, not that theistic evolution stuff) is physically impossible. (They are not worth the bother to refute. That you couldn't get these mathematical "arguments" past the referees of reputable journals is all that anyone needs to know.)

If you or anyone who wishes to continue to defecate on physics that is good enough to get past referees at reputable journals, then be my guest. But as long as you and everyone like you cannot get your mathematical "arguments" past such referees, as long as they are or would be rejected by such referees, my recommendation to the public is that such mathematical "arguments" be treated accordingly.

Posted by: Keefanda | March 8, 2011 8:56 PM | Report abuse

according to that calculator, a temperature of 110 and 75% RH = 206 "heat index". don't know how realistic that is, but there it is. but, any credible scenario i know of, we aren't due a 7-12C rises for quite a while. hopefully deniers will be gone by then or we will have figured something out (or will have run out of oil!)

anybody know what co2 levels would be if (when) we used up all the oil? (all the coal?)

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 8, 2011 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Keefanda, the "Science stunner" you refer to seems to have some funny math. From the article:

"Accounting for the increase in CO2 and the reduction in solar irradiance, the net radiative forcing—the change in the difference between the incoming and outgoing radiation energy–of the climate system at 30 to 40 Ma was 6.5 to 10 W m−2 with an average of ∼8 W m−2 (see the second figure). A similar magnitude of forcing existed for other past warm climate periods, such as the warm mid-Cretaceous of 100 Ma (8). Using the proxy temperature data and assuming, to first order, that latitudinal temperature can be fit with a cosine function in latitude (9), the global annual mean temperature at this time can be estimated to be ∼31°C, versus 15°C during pre-industrial times (around 1750) (10). Thus, Earth was ∼16°C warmer at 30 to 40 Ma."

The author seems to be arguing that because the sun was dimmer, there was a higher "equivalent" increase in temperature for the 1000 ppm of CO2 (a very crude estimate BTW):

"Also, solar physics findings show that the Sun was less luminous by ∼0.4% at that time (7). Thus, an increase of CO2 from ∼300 ppmv to 1000 ppmv warmed the tropics by 5° to 10°C and the polar regions by even more (i.e., 15° to 20°C)."

My previous post was mathematical (to some extent) because that's what you asked me for. Now you are saying that my math sounds like a particular statistician arguing for creationism. But my math was not statistical.

Posted by: eric654 | March 8, 2011 10:25 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: eric654 | March 8, 2011 10:35 PM | Report abuse

@ eric654 | March 8, 2011 10:25 PM:

I'm sorry, but it is not a counter-argument - there is no citation of peer-reviewed science - no list of references. That which it is against, the article I linked to in
March 8, 2011 8:56 PM
is a report of much peer-reviewed science (including that study showing that human-caused global warming may lead to the end of the world) with citations of much peer-reviewed science, giving a long list of references.

The mode of operation of cranks and crankery is this: Defecate on the reputably published peer-reviewed science - ideas that get past referees at reputable journals to become published as peer-reviewed science - and substitute one's own contrary ideas that are not good enough to get past such referees. (This type of thing goes on in all fields, including my field, mathematics.) They practice the implicit assumption that all ideas are created equal - the ideas of those who defecate on peer-reviewed science and of those whose ideas cannot get past such referees are intellectually equivalent to the ideas that can and do get past such referees. (See for instance their response all this last year to the peer-reviewed physics I cited and commented on in
March 8, 2011 12:47 AM
March 8, 2011 3:11 PM
where this physics shows the end of the world that humanity may be slowly and surely causing with massive CO2 spewing.)

As far as I'm concerned, peer-reviewed climate science denial is the same type of psychological phenomenon as peer-reviewed evolutionary science denial (again, real evolution and not that theistic evolution stuff) and peer-reviewed epidemiological science denial (they for instance deny the peer-reviewed epidemiological science showing higher mortality from lack of health care in the US, especially compared to the richer OECD countries). For the entire population, it's largely the same bunch - and it reaches into the scientific community: For example, Roy Spencer is also an evolutionary science denier. I dare say that if we sieved out every self-professed scientist who denies evolutionary science or has taken money from the CO2 emitters (shades of tobacco company "science" past), then essentially no peer-reviewed-climate science denier of note would be left.

Peer-reviewed science - scientists holding all submitted scientific ideas to the highest standards of rigor - is the only thing freeing humanity from the tyranny of crankery, propaganda, and superstition. I think it's long past due for all who care for the truth to diligently promote the principle that peer-reviewed science should be given all the deference of being the final arbiter of truth about the physical world, that all attempts to defecate on it should be resisted with all vigor, that it should be left to itself to sort out what the truth really is, and to give all peer-reviewed-science-denying crankery the treatment recommended by David Hume:

"Commit it then to the flames, for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion."

Posted by: Keefanda | March 9, 2011 6:38 AM | Report abuse

Keefanda, the article that you linked to (by Jeffrey Kiehl) was not peer reviewed. Here's the science magazine policy: His perspective piece is considered commentary and is not peer reviewed. The rebuttal I linked to was obviously not peer reviewed, but it would never be published in Science Magazine due to that magazine's bias.

Higher mortality in the U.S. is due to mainly to demographic factors, not lack of government-run health care. Care to share any other off-topic rantings other than that and evolution? I would be happy to debunk your preconceived notions.

Posted by: eric654 | March 9, 2011 7:21 AM | Report abuse

@ eric654 | March 9, 2011 7:21 AM:

As to your reply to my
March 9, 2011 6:38 AM:

I wish you would read things more carefully.

You are wrong about Science as some "biased" journal (but it's biased against cranks and crankery, that's for sure): It is one of the most reputable peer-reviewed science journals.

But such journals also reserve sections for articles that do not have to get by referees to get published as refereed or peer-reviewed papers, and given that the article was what is called a review, I was careful to say that it was a report on peer-reviewed science. I did not say that that article was peer-reviewed. I said that that it was a report on much peer-reviewed science, where this report has a list of references, including peer-reviewed science, reputably published at that.

I repeat: You cited an article as a "counter" that itself cited nothing with respect to reputably published peer-reviewed science.

There is no equivalency there, just as I pointed out before.

That the side for peer-reviewed science cites reputably published peer-reviewed science but the side against peer-reviewed science essentially never does is to be expected. Par for the reputably-published-peer-reviewed-science denier course.

It's just as I pointed out before in another way: Denial of peer-reviewed climate science and denial of peer-reviewed evolutionary science and denial of peer-reviewed epidemiological science and any other such denial are all cut out of the same cloth - since such science denial itself cannot cite more than little or no such peer-reviewed science, and since it is not good enough to itself become peer-reviewed science, such science denial in the end is not in the end based in science at all; it is based in religious and/or political motivations (and/or financial motivations, see again shades of those "scientists" who took money from the tobacco companies and said what those companies wanted people to believe).

Regarding all this anti-peer-reviewed-science crankery in all these areas, I wish so many of those in positions of responsibility in the media would wake up to this fact, and finally realize it's time to call a shovel a shovel.

Posted by: Keefanda | March 9, 2011 9:56 AM | Report abuse

eric is a skeptic more in regard to the consequences of global warming. he agrees it's happening, but thinks it is/will be so gradual and that serious consequences are so far off that we'll adapt gradually and/or that technology may "solve" those issues before they become "catastrophic". (right, eric? is that a fair charactersation?)

i accept the reality of global warming theory - based on the simple notion that co2 is a greenhouse gas, so more co2 will warm the atmosphere. it's like DUH...

but, i readily admit that most of the nitty-gritty of the peer-reviewed literature is beyond my level/area of education to understand. i think it's gonna be more of a problem than eric does. is there some graph or series of maps (a picture is worth a 1000 words), showing the various emission scenarios, that would show how soon we would reach 200 degree heat index conditions in what are now "temperate" zones - like, say washington dc?

also, do you have any idea what kind of sea-level rise would be associated with that kind of heat? and how soon that kind of sea-level rise would happen?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 9, 2011 10:03 AM | Report abuse

you said 200 degree heat index days already occur occasionally in isolated parts of saudi arabia etc...

so, when i say, "...reach 200 degree heat index conditions in what are now "temperate" zones - like, say washington dc?", i guess i mean reach those conditions not just on one record-breaking summer day, but regularly for "significant" (?) stretches of time.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 9, 2011 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Walter, that's fair. My final link at March 8, 2011 7:27 PM has some scenarios for reaching 110-115 in about 150 year. Here's a link to their model output But I would not rule out having to adapt much faster than that (and I think, for heat index in particular, adaptation is very doable).

Keefanda, the article I used to counter your article is written for a blog and doesn't contain a formal reference list. But it does have hyperlinks to some peer-reviewed sources. Most links are to other blog articles, but those also have some peer-reviewed sources.

The fact that your article points to peer-reviewed sources means nothing if the author makes fundamental errors (which he does). The most fundamental error is geography pointed out in the rebuttal I linked to. Another flaw is that the CO2 data he references is very crudely measured (+100%/-50% or more, a fact he does not acknowledge) and probably inapplicable (going from 1000 to 3000 ppm is not the same as going from 300 to 1000 ppm). He also omits all other factors except TSI, which is probably the most common flaw in paleoclimate analysis. There is no indication, for example, of changes in geomagnetic effects that might have had a role in the temperature change.

You can choose to ignore any potential errors that I point out and continue to insist that your article is "a report on much peer-reviewed science" rather than an untested, not peer-reviewed, alarmist, and probably incorrect hypothesis. But I will interpret your lack of a specific defense as a tacit admission that the article cannot be defended other than with an abstract appeal to authority.

Posted by: eric654 | March 9, 2011 10:59 AM | Report abuse

i tried that link, but it takes me to a "cover page" type thing, and i can't actually access the paper or the models.

i wonder about that chart you show. why does it plateau at 115 heat index? don't you think 110 degrees with 75% humidity (206 heat index) is possible? maybe that's taking the daytime and nighttime averages - instead of the daily peak conditions?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 9, 2011 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Walter, if you and SP don't mind, you can put a bland comment of some sort at SP's site, then he can email me your email address that he gets from the comment form. Then I will email you the paper.

Posted by: eric654 | March 9, 2011 4:31 PM | Report abuse

ok, i just i left a comment there on a snow pic he took yesterday.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 9, 2011 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Peer review means that we all parrot the same party line and stand in line for Government handouts to research non-existent solutions to non-existent problems.

Posted by: frontieradjust | March 9, 2011 7:47 PM | Report abuse

@ eric654 | March 9, 2011 10:59 AM

First, nothing in the non-peer-reviewed article you cited implies the impossibility of what may happen according to the non-peer-reviewed article I cited.

Second, you still cannot cite peer-reviewed science showing wet bulb temperatures of 35 C or 95 F, heat index temperatures of 170-196 degrees F, physically impossible.

Again: That National Academy of Sciences published peer-reviewed physics linked in my original post of

Keefanda | March 8, 2011 12:47 AM

says it will happen with a 7-12 degrees C increase.

You talk of life being able to adapt to such heat index temperatures?

You talk of the biophysically impossible.

Heat index temperatures that high are inherently deadly to all modern warm-blooded life. Again: That much heat and humidity means the evaporation rate even with giant fans would not be able to bleed off enough heat fast enough to avoid death within hours. (The blowing air would actually feel very hot.)

Look at the world map provided by the researchers

Deadly heat indexes in all the tropics and sub-tropics and even more, as soon as in the 22nd century, where ever-increasing mass death from heat stress among people (eventually millions per year) and animals begin long before, with heat indexes going from the present 100+ degrees F to slightly less than 200 degrees F.

Over time, much if not most of the planet - most of the Americas, and all of Africa, the Middle East, southern Asia including all of India and much of China, and maybe even some of southern Europe becomes a dead zone, devoid of all warm-blooded life (including eventually billions of dead humans). (Only warm-blooded life that can successfully live almost entirely underground could survive, just like tens of millions of years ago.)

This would necessarily mean the end of human civilization.

First, there will be no fantastical Star-Trek-style technology in just the next couple centuries or so that can empty the skies of CO2.

Second, think it through:

With these heat indexes during the hot months: Even just a slightly prolonged power failure means everyone dies. Things like all outside work and travel (typically requiring being outside for any length of time) becomes physically impossible to survive except perhaps in things like spacesuits, which can fail as well.

Northern countries like Russia will let in all those many billions in the ever-increasing-death zones who would otherwise die?

If so, what little land is left can produce enough food for those extra billions as well? The distinction between nations and different civilizations could be preserved? How?

If not, then all those billions are going to accept that?...It's called war, which could easily go nuclear.

Think it through, folks; think it through as to what such a largely global massive increase in heat index temperatures over the next couple or so centuries really implies.

Posted by: Keefanda | March 9, 2011 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Keefanda, the paper I referenced (heat indexes in SE U.S. with quadrupled CO2) is peer reviewed, published in Science. In the paper they publish this model result showing the heat index rising as CO2 is quadrupled. Note that it maxes out around 110 with spikes to 115 which is due to weather.

In the paper you reference, Sherwood and Huber, their supplemental info doesn't explain how CO2 will reach 4480 ppm. Quadrupling (my link) is about 1000 ppm and is considered extreme by many. Another problem is that some of their simulations use Eocene geography, no Antarctic ice, and CO2 of 2240. Well, 2240 is outlandish, but Eocene geography is impossible. Are you seriously going to argue that geography doesn't matter and Antarctica will melt?

In short their scenario is a fantasy, and is never going to happen. Their reference saying it is "possible" is Sokolov which is a study which uses scientist opinion surveys to develop probability distributions. I'm not a big fan of subjective probability (or subjective science of any sort). Frankly, Sherwood is an example of science feeding off of bad science (the MIT study looks like a student project). Sokolov et al is here if you care to defend that, but I suspect you won't specifically defend any of the science since you haven't so far.

Posted by: eric654 | March 10, 2011 5:53 AM | Report abuse

thanks for getting me that paper.

it said,

"One limitation of the present study is that only monthly mean model output were available for analysis. In addition, a diurnal cycle of insolation was not incorporated in the model. Calculating the SHI using hourly data from a model with a diurnal cycle would likely lead to higher values of the SHI due to the non-linearity of the SHI. Further, as a result of both the higher variance of daily data and the non-linearity of the SHI, it is anticipated that individual days (and stretches of days) would have SHI increases considerably larger than the results presented for monthly means.

1)it does not factor in the diurnal cycle - which to me means those temps are daily average temps - much less representative of the "stressful" (i.e., hot) times of day. and they only showed monthly averages, so all heatwaves etc... are not represented.

2)on page 383, what does this mean?:
"In the 4 x CO2 experiment the combination of temperature and humidity is OCCASIONALLY SO LARGE THAT HEAT INDEX VALUES ARE NOT DEFINED (see text for discussion). In such cases, the spatial mean is computed using only those spatial locations with defined Heat Index values."

the closest thing in the text i could find was this:
"Note that values of SHI are not plotted for values of temperature and relative humidity which exceed the range over which the calculation of the SHI is valid."

? what makes it not valid?

is this the reason for the "maxing out" at 115 heat index? because of a definition? i don't see an explanation of why it's impossible to have - or why "weather" prohibits - 110 degrees with 70% humidity (or some other combination resulting in heat indexes above 115). i mean, that already happens today:

in any event, those first factors about diurnal/monthly factors are what really keep the index down. sure it's not gonna be that hot all night, but it could be much hotter than 115 heat index during the day, especially during heatwaves.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 10, 2011 9:40 AM | Report abuse

oops... meant to say,
"in any event, those first factors about diurnal/monthly AVERAGES are what really keep the index down."

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 10, 2011 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Walter, yes, it's the averages, but that is what matters with heat and heat indexes. The fact that a heat index reaches 119 for one reading is irrelevant for either meteorology or health. Which brings me to June 23, 2009 at North Little Rock Airport. According to the NWS climate report they had a high of 98, a low of 78 and lows of 77 and 76 the day before and after. But the dewpoint reached 83 according to the newspapre because they also had 0.03 inches of rain (the first rain in over a week). The rain hit the hot surface, it evaporated and some water vapor reached the humidity gauge.

As I explained above, that is a temporary phenomenon. It has nothing to do with AGW or CO2, it is not a modern phenomenon, and the only reason there would be a new record (or a trend) is local heating from poorly sited equipment. The only thing that matters for health in this situation is the heat index over a long period (usually days). One obvious measurement technique is to look at the low temperature (78) and conclude that the 83 is irrelevant.

So your #1 above is wrong, the hot part of the day doesn't matter, the daily average does, particularly the nighttime when the body must cool to maintain health.

On #2, for our current world with CO2 at 390 or even 540 (2 x 270), the lapse rate will be pretty much the same which means that heat indexes over 110 or so are transient and irrelevant. Specifically they result from a rain shower on a hot surface or they result in a weather change from convection. The convection is absolutely inevitable (creating wind, clouds, possible rain) because that is dictated by the atmospheric pressure and constituent gases.

The only way that changes is to make an extreme change in the atmospheric constituents (e.g. Sherwood's 4480 ppm CO2) and run a model that has unknowable and arbitrary weather (no way to predict the lapse rate and convection). Sherwood is absolutely wrong to shift Tw to the right and his justification is very thin.

Again I go back to the two common sense questions I asked above: 1) does CO2 matter at dew points of 70 or 80? (no) 2) what happens when the dew point gets that high in a nontrivial area (convection, wind, clouds, thunderstorm).

Posted by: eric654 | March 10, 2011 11:33 AM | Report abuse

you say that t-storms will happen when dew points get to 70 or 80 - but that's under current temperature ranges. if temps are regularly 20 degrees higher that t-storm threshold would go up too, right? (i realize we're a long way away from 20 degree temp rises, so i'm more just interested in theory here.)

as far as my #1 above that you said was "wrong", if the average heat index for a day is 115, then can we say the nighttime low heat index might be around 100? and the daytime high around 130? 100 is still too hot - especially when that's the low. people already die when there's two or three days or maybe a week of conditions like that as the high. imagine a whole month or summer where that's the low.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 10, 2011 12:45 PM | Report abuse


Two answers (the real answer is I don't know). If you add heat and humidity to a decent sized area, you will get a thunderstorm. It doesn't matter if the temperatures on average are higher, or anything else like that. The threshold is from convection and convection kicks in when the mixing ratio is high enough (see calculator in March 8, 2011 7:27 PM). So no, threshold won't change, not even a little.

Second answer (the one I need to do more research on): when you get to really high levels of CO2 the atmosphere's opaqueness increases, and that reduces the amount of convection from a given temperature and humidity. My understanding is those levels of CO2 would have to be far higher than any plausible scenario in the next century (i.e. it would take several centuries at least).

On #1, I think you are correct. They are looking at means, and your 100 to 130 seems like a good guess. I don't think the range would be wider and it seems like it could be narrower based on the t-storm threshold discussed above (how much that changes in the higher CO2 atmosphere). So maybe the worst month with 115 average will have a lot of days where it stays at 115 day and night. Again it all depends on what the lapse rate and other weather variables do in a more opaque atmosphere, specifically for 4xCO2

Posted by: eric654 | March 10, 2011 2:32 PM | Report abuse

@ eric654 | March 10, 2011 5:53 AM

You replied to my

Keefanda | March 9, 2011 8:46 PM

in which I more fully pointed out the terrible and very deadly implications - all higher life forms being killed off by the time half of the inhabited planet (where many billion of humans live, all of the tropics and subtropics which includes most of the Americas and all of Africa and southern Asia including all of India and much of China) reaches daytime peak WET BULB temperatures of 35 degrees C or 95 degrees F, this correlating to a heat index of SOMEWHAT UNDER 200 degrees F, which according to the peer-reviewed National Academy of Sciences published paper I cited in my first post

Keefanda | March 8, 2011 12:47 AM

would happen with a 7-12 degrees C global average temperature increase.

To reply:

First, that paper you cited looks at only AVERAGE heat indexes and ONLY in the southeastern US. And it is several years old
and on top of that this paper is an overview of even older models.

The science has changed a lot since then, and the NAS paper is published in 2010, evidently using the most recent models at the time of its work.

The NAS paper looked at PEAK daytime WET BULB temperatures during the hot months all over the planet.

I'll go with the more recent peer-reviewed results, looking at peak temperatures everywhere.

I will consider the NAS results not refuted unless someone gets their contrarian ideas past referees to become peer-reviewed research in a reputable journal. Without such, I will consider non-peer-reviewed denials of the NAS results - and peer-reviwed results generally - to be crankery equivalent to denials of peer-reviewed evolutionary science.

And you are VERY wrong when you say PEAK wet bulb and heat index temperatures do not matter!

They do matter - peak temperatures last for many hours each day.

All it takes for a peak heat index of almost 200 degrees F to kill every last warm-blooded animal is just that, a matter of hours. And it has to happen only once.

Not only that, mass kill-offs would begin to occur long before over time as the peak heat indexes rise over time.

And this cessation of higher life forms of mammals and birds would extend via sufficient food chain destruction to probably almost all of the other life as well.

I am of the opinion that all those who deny the NAS results are in serious denial about how fantastically deadly a global warming of 7-12 degrees C would really be.

Note 1: The Purdue researchers also DID NOT claim that a 7-12 degree C global average increase in actual thermometer readings would occur. They looked at what would happen IF there such an increase from ANY combination of causes.

Note 2: This above means that if the planet is naturally warming as some AGW skeptics say, then humanity making it warmer and warmer than it would otherwise have been is insane! It makes it that much more important to stop the massive CO2 spewing!

Posted by: Keefanda | March 10, 2011 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Keefanda, the reason why newer is not always (and often not) better is that it hasn't had time to be properly critiqued and, in this case, debunked. The PNAS paper starts out: "Recent studies have highlighted the possibility of large global warmings in the absence of strong mitigation measures, for example the possibility of over 7 °C of warming this century alone (1)."

Reference 1 is Sokolov which is a "probabilistic" forecast of climate change extremes. The problem is that it is not based on probabilities, which require multiple measurements for an adequate sample to determine a probability distribution. Sokolov et al is junk. It is not peer reviewed and not published in any journal, just on MIT's web site. It states on page 14 that "For climate sensitivity, the prior distribution was calculated by Webster and Sokolov (2000) from an expert elicitation by Morgan and Keith (1995)." The problem with that method is that it is not based on data, certainly not real world data, and not even outlandish model data. It is simply a collection of feelings of "experts" from 1995 recycled in a report in 2009 and used for a fake scare story in 2010 in PNAS.

Your insistence on using recent work should mean we should also not use some feelings from 1995 as the cornerstone for climate: model sensitivity. In any case Sokolov uses this fake "probability distribution" to proffer the "possibility" of 7C warming. The possibility of 7C warming is then taken up by Sherwood.

How does Sherwood arrive at 7C in his model? Obviously with great difficulty, he has to raise CO2 to 4480 ppm or reverse the geology of the earth to Eocene geography, no Antarctic ice, and CO2 of 2240. None of that is possible so it is not possible to achieve even with an unrealistic model never mind using Sokolov's 7C which requires feelings of scientists from 1995.

In short you were taken in by some very poorly done recent science. It will be fixed eventually like all science, but by that time the damage will be done, lots of political rhetoric will be informed by a study that is not at all factual in any sense.

Posted by: eric654 | March 10, 2011 7:18 PM | Report abuse

@ eric654 | March 10, 2011 7:18 PM

which is a reply to last post

Keefanda | March 10, 2011 5:58 PM


I observe (as one with a degree in math) that you are making a typical logical/mathematical mistake: Negating the antecedent of a conditional negates that conditional.

The main thrust of that peer-reviewed National Academy of Sciences paper I cited in my first post

Keefanda | March 8, 2011 12:47 AM

is in the form of two conditionals:

(1) IF there is a 7 C degree increase, THEN much of the human population - and all wildlife in the same areas - is presently in areas that will become an environment during the hot months of daytime peak 35 degrees C or 95 degrees F wet bulb temps, peak heat indexes of almost 200 degrees, not survivable at least by life forms requiring evaporation to survive heat, warm-blooded life like mammals (including humans) and birds.

(2) IF there is a 12 C degree increase, THEN half (or more) of the human population - and all wildlife in the same areas, at least all the tropics and subtropics - is presently in areas that will become an environment during the hot months of daytime peak 35 degrees C or 95 degrees F wet bulb temps, peak heat indexes of almost 200 degrees, not survivable at least by life forms requiring evaporation to survive heat, warm-blooded life like mammals (including humans) and birds.

The only way to prove false a conditional p -> q is to prove false its negation, p & ~q.

And so the only way to falsify what the conditionals of that NAS paper are to grant their antecedents but prove false their consequents.

That is:

To show the first conditional false:

You have to show that even with a 7 degree C increase, nothing bad will happen in those areas in question - they will still obtain wet bulb peak temps during the summertime daytime that are still perfectly fine for warm-blooded life.

To show the first conditional false:

You have to show that even with a 12 degree C increase, nothing bad will happen in those areas in question - they will still obtain wet bulb peak temps during the summertime daytime that are still perfectly fine for warm-blooded life.

Now if you or anyone can get all that past some referees at a reputable journal to become published as refereed research, then let's see it.

Unless and until that happens, the NAS paper results, as those two conditionals, stands - those two conditionals are no fantasy.

But even to address your negation of the antecedents:

Unless and until you or anyone can get past some referees at a reputable journal to become published as refereed research the claim that a 12 or even just a 7 degree C increase from ANY set of causes is physically impossible or even just next to physically impossible, I'll go with all that peer-reviewed science like that NAS science that in part says that it is very physically possible, even within just a couple of centuries or so.

Posted by: Keefanda | March 10, 2011 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Keefanda, do you understand where the 7C value came from? Do you have any intention of defending that non peer reviewed paper? Did you read it?

Your logic: if earth's average temperature reaches an impossible value pulled from a non peer reviewed paper, then Tw will exceed 95F. False premise, incorrect logic, and a demonstrably incorrect conclusion even if the premise and logic were correct.

High Tw will not occur with 7C warming. The reason the Eocene had 5-7C of average warming was warming at the poles not extreme warmth in the tropics. When Tw gets to 30C in our climate over any significant area (not a hot airport tarmac that got sprinkled on), then there is convection, then wind to replace that air, then evaporative cooling from the wind.

The caveat to that explanation is the presence of a radically different atmosphere, e.g. over 4,000 ppm of CO2 as Sherwood placed in his simulation. Then the atmosphere will be much warmer aloft and convection will not take place until higher Tw. 35C? Maybe, I don't have model references for that condition. But it doesn't matter since we won't reach 4,000 ppm CO2

Posted by: eric654 | March 10, 2011 10:08 PM | Report abuse

@ eric654 | March 10, 2011 10:08 PM:

a reply to my

Keefanda | March 10, 2011 8:18 PM


This is all irrelevant. You didn't address my points in the least. You keep arguing against the antecedent of the conditional, not the conditional.

And the part about evaporative cooling? It shows that you do not understand - there is less and less evaporative cooling for warm-blooded species as the heat and humidity gets worse and worse.

Get your denials past a referee at a reputable journal, and then maybe your ideas will get some real consideration.

Posted by: Keefanda | March 11, 2011 12:03 AM | Report abuse

Keefanda, perhaps it was not clear but I was describing the weather processes that preclude a Tw of above roughly 30 in any plausible future atmosphere. Convection is part of that weather, then wind, then evaporational cooling. What that does is prevent Tw from reaching 35 as your article claims it can. Has nothing to do with cooling of mammals.

Before this thread I would not have bothered reading such alarmist articles in PNAS in depth knowing their biases towards government control of energy (the government only funds the research which leads to the need for government control). But having read it, I see they based it on Sokolov's junk, not peer reviewed, not published. And yet you consider it (the possibility of 7C) to be fact because someone writing in PNAS references it. But really it is because it fits your preconceived alarmist feelings. If the antecedent is impossible, then it doesn't matter what the conditional is.

Posted by: eric654 | March 11, 2011 5:47 AM | Report abuse

@ eric654 | March 11, 2011 5:47 AM

which refers to the conditionals in question of my very recent post

Keefanda | March 10, 2011 8:18 PM


Thank-you for confirming with your "biases towards government control of energy" that peer-reviewed climate science denial is in the end not motivated by scientific considerations, but by political considerations.

You claim that a 12 degree C (~21 degree F) increase or even just a 7 degree C (~12 degree F) increase is by the laws of physics physically impossible.

You claim that even if their were such increases it would still be by the laws of physics physically impossible for wet bulb temps to reach or even approach 35 degrees C (95 degree F), which is a heat index range approaching 200 degrees F.

The peer-reviewed physics saying that all this by the laws of physics is physically impossible is...where, exactly?

You keep defecating on Sokolov because it is not peer-reviewed, and that therefore you think that everyone should join you in defecating on that peer-reviewed National Academy of Sciences paper that cites it, this paper giving warning about an "Armageddon" without even a single violent event.

But then by your standard, why should not others defecate on your claims of physically impossibility since your claims are non-peer-reviewed and on top of that, have no peer-reviewed parallels?

Lesson to all: Stick to the peer-reviewed science and only to the peer-reviewed science. (BTW, the authors and referees of peer-reviewed science know when non-peer-reviewed sources are cited, and they're not stupid - they know by their expertise whether the citations are OK.)

The alternative is to hand the world over to crankery.

Therefore, the peer-reviewed NAS paper and its warning about an "Armageddon" without even a single violent event stand unless and until peer-reviewed follow-ups show the physical impossibility of the conditions in question.

Side note: To the reader who wishes to see that peer-reviewed NAS paper: I give a link to that paper in my first post

Keefanda | March 8, 2011 12:47 AM

Posted by: Keefanda | March 11, 2011 7:39 AM | Report abuse

It's too bad none of the CWG meteorologists have weighed in on this. That Tw is limited is a well established meteorological fact. There are lots of textbooks that will explain it as part of their fundamentals, so it is not particularly a research area.

There are some tangential papers. Here is one that shows lots of observations in the Amazon where convection is initiated at Tw in the mid 20's but no higher than the upper 20's. IOW, the mid to upper 20's Tw triggers convection and, in this case, storms. The limit is due to convection which is an unchanging worldwide condition, not specific to this study area (most areas would have less convection than the Amazon).

Like I said above, the caveat is that very large atmospheric constituent changes will change convection properties, by warming aloft, and probably other factors. But those changes require 4,000 ppm of CO2 as shown in the PNAS paper. At the current rise of

Posted by: eric654 | March 11, 2011 8:04 AM | Report abuse

sorry, I cut off my post accidentally. The current rise of less than 2 ppm it's nominally 2000 years to get to that point, or perhaps a 1000 to get near it, but that is really just speculative.

Posted by: eric654 | March 11, 2011 8:06 AM | Report abuse

yeah, it would have been nice to hear from andrew, matt or any others of the gang.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 11, 2011 5:01 PM | Report abuse

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