Unlike markets, climate won’t bounce back soon

It’s my pleasure to welcome another guest writer to Hot Topic — Peter Barrett, professor of geology at Victoria University, deputy director of the Climate Change Research Institute and former director of VUW’s Antarctic Research Centre. He is also convener of the ANDRILL science advisory panel. Last week, the Dominion Post carried this challenging article from Peter, and as it is not available at the DP web site, he has kindly agreed to allow it to appear as a guest column here. I hope it won’t be the last.

The world economy appears to be heading into the worst recession in 60 years. The nominal wealth of global markets has almost halved in the last couple of months and the United States Government alone is shoring up its banking system with $US7.6 trillion. Commentators expect conditions will be difficult in the next few years and say we need to get the fundamentals right.

Severe downturns have happened before and our society has recovered. Each time, confidence and perception of wealth has grown to exceed tangible assets and credible wealth by a big margin, and the illusion could not be sustained. Each time we had to go back to the fundamentals.

At same time the global ecosystem has suffered from economic growth and rising population. The United Nation’s Millennium Ecosystem Assessment of 2005 found that more than 60 percent of the Earth’s ecosystem services were degraded by overuse and pollution. The importance of ecosystem services to our economic and social well being is now understood as fundamental, though progress is slow.

On top of this, changes in Earth’s climate are now compounding both economic and ecosystem crises. Estimates based on our current knowledge of the climate system show Earth is now absorbing more heat from the Sun than it is emitting back into space. Direct observations of ocean warming to depths of 3 km account for about 60% of the excess – the rest is warming the surface. This increasing warmth is the fundamental driver behind climate change. The graph shows annual average global temperature based on measurements from thousands of recording stations around the world over the last 150 years. The increase is only about 0.8ºC, though this figure hides the fact that continents are warming substantially faster than oceans.

Sceptics say Earth has been cooling since 1998, but this claim rests on the single high value for that year. The scatter of annual measurements (circles in graph) shows how annual measurements fluctuate due to changes in cloud cover, wind patterns, ocean upwelling and currents that move heat around the planet in complex patterns. Climate change is only meaningfully identified from averages over decades. This shows that Earth recently has been warming persistently.

Barrettglobalaverage.jpg

Greenhouse gases have been the subject of scientific research for more than a century. We know that they warm the planet and, without them, the Earth’s average temperature would be a freezing -18°C. Evidence for rising greenhouse gases leading to further warming has been reviewed many times over two decades. It is also obvious from melting glaciers and rising sea levels.

The most comprehensive is the 2007 Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This concluded that our climate is changing largely as a consequence of rising greenhouse gases released by human activities. Both the observed temperature rise and the patterns it shows are those expected from known physics. Some still insist the sun is behind the observed warming, but that this cannot explain the lack of change in the past three decades, when temperature has risen most.

The basic conclusions of the IPCC have now been endorsed by all the major national science academies. We have yet to agree on solutions, but two simple principles stand out – shifting away from fossil fuels and returning CO2 from the atmosphere to Earth as fast as possible.

This also makes sense from a geological perspective. The coal, oil and gas that fueled industrial growth accumulated over hundreds of millions of years at times when Earth had much higher temperatures and 4 to 8 times pre-industrial CO2 levels. We are returning this carbon to the atmosphere in centuries.

If we do not stop carbon emissions rising in the next few years, the consequences will be with us for many generations. Carbon dioxide, unlike methane, remains in the atmosphere for hundreds of years to heat the earth. Most governments are now heeding such messages.

As President-elect Obama said last month: “Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response. The stakes are too high. The consequences, too serious “ Governments and communities should now be focussing on getting the fundamentals right for not only the economy but also climate change. Markets recover in a few years – climate takes millennia.

70 thoughts on “Unlike markets, climate won’t bounce back soon”

  1. As a geologist he should have remembered the carbon stored in the earth as carbonate. He also appears to have forgotten, if indeed he ever knew, that plants feed on carbon dioxide. If he had shown atmospheric carbon dioxide and the sunspot cycle on his graph it would have been much more informative, though of course it would severely dent his argument.

  2. Roger, please stop the tired insults. If you persist with the “snark”, I’ll edit or remove your comments.

    PS: There is no link between the “sunspot cycle” and global temperature, beyond a 0.1C change peak to trough of the total solar irradiance, which does vary (slightly) over the 11 year cycle. TSI itself hasn’t changed (barring the oscillation) for at least 50 years, and if you look at the most recent work, possibly not for hundreds…

  3. >PS: There is no link between the “sunspot cycle” and global temperature, beyond a 0.1C change peak to trough of the total solar irradiance, which does vary (slightly) over the 11 year cycle. TSI itself hasn’t changed (barring the oscillation) for at least 50 years, and if you look at the most recent work, possibly not for hundreds…

    You are wrong. Post the graph that I emailed to you.

  4. Now lets consider your time scales roger… you still cannot grasp long term trends (over ten year periods) and you’re a geologist. Contradictions eh

    It does not really support your case

  5. The shape of the graph is what you might expect to see in a system where the global average temperature is driven by a number of factors, some random, where the system itself is capable of unforced variation (wiggles). 150 years ago, the forcing due to additional CO2 from human activities was very small. Over the 20th century, as CO2 accumulates, it becomes larger and the temperature starts to move upwards – but can still be dominated by “noise” in the system. By the time we get to the last 20 years, the CO2 forcing has increased enormously (40% more CO2 around), and begins to dominate – hence the upward slope at the end of the graph. There’s still plenty of noise, but the underlying trend is clear.
    Let’s also remember there’s a 30-year lag in the system, as the oceans “catch up” with the forcing. We haven’t yet seen the full effect of the warming delivered by current CO2 levels.
    Talking about “correlation” between CO2 and temperature is to miss the big picture. We know the radiation physics of CO2, we know the amount of CO2 is increasing, and we expect warming to continue unless and until we can begin to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. To try and suggest that “something else” is driving the warming, you first have to explain why CO2 doesn’t.
    Good luck with that.

  6. 1) 11 of the past 12 years were the warmest on record Roger.
    2) Try 100 years, 50 years, or even 30 years.

    I am glad the select committee just thought your ‘science’ was just rubbish and it will again.

    Rodney can harp on about what an environmental scientist he is, although I don’t know how much climate science he was taught in ecology.

    I know I was taught an immense amount and thank you for admitting that having a degree in chemistry is enough to understand environmental science, I guess chemists as well as geologists are qualified to understand the evidence, I feel privileged.

  7. >To try and suggest that “something else” is driving the warming, you first have to explain why CO2 doesn’t.

    No. The onus is on you to show that it is not the sun and not just another warm period such as the Roman or mediaeval warm periods. We have not even reached the post glacial climatic optimum yet. As I have have written elsewhere the closed box physics is not enough. Anyway it seems to be cooling now and may well continue to do so. How many years of cooling will you need before you admit defeat? Of course I am not committed to warming or cooling, merely inevitable change.

  8. I have pretty much the same qualifications as RH a BSc in Zoology from Canterbury and a MSc in resource management (plus a BForSc). In addition I have been following the science since the late 1980s as part of my work in the environmental arena.

    I am certainly not qualified to pass judgement on the state of the science.

    Doug

  9. RD said

    “How many years of cooling will you need before you admit defeat?

    30 years

    “Of course I am not committed to warming or cooling, merely inevitable change”

    So why not change away from a fossil fuel reliant society? It’s going to happen soon or later.

  10. As I have have written elsewhere the closed box physics is not enough.

    Sorry Roger, but you can’t just wave your hand and dismiss the physics. You have to account for it.

    If something else is driving the modern warming, then you have to explain why CO2 is not. Until you can, then everything else is just (to coin a phrase) “pissing in the wind”.

  11. Dewhurst: “We have not even reached the post glacial climatic optimum yet.”

    It must have felt good to make a claim to such knowledge, but FYI the “optimum” (maximum, more properly IMHO) was from about 9,000 to 5,000 years ago. Note that the orbital eccentricity necessary for another such event won’t occur again during what would have been the @50 ky remaining natural span of the Holocene.

    It’s interesting how so many denialists dislike climate science so much that they’re unwilling to make enough of a study of it to carry on a minimally technical discussion on the subject. Perhaps they’re afraid of what they would learn.

  12. >1) 11 of the past 12 years were the warmest on record Roger.
    2) Try 100 years, 50 years, or even 30 years.

    It depends on what you mean by records. You are thinking of thermometers but I am thinking of the bones of tropical animals excavated near London.

    I am also thinking of grapes grown in the north of England.

    One of the years of the last decade may well have been the warmest year since the thermometer was invented. But that was very recently.

    You have to show more that that temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide increased together. You have to explain ALL the warmings and coolings in the last few thousand years, better still in the last few million years. 30, 50 0r 100 years is not enough. Despite Gareth’s insistence closed box physics is not enough. There are positive and negative feedback mechanisms that we have not even begun to understand.

  13. Roger, do you understand the difference between a localised event and global events… It seems not.

    And you seem to have a problem with me saying NO WARMING FOR 500 MILLION YEARS, but agree with me with what you wrote above.

  14. >And you seem to have a problem with me saying NO WARMING FOR 500 MILLION YEARS, but agree with me with what you wrote above.

    I do not have a problem with you being sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

  15. I think that last post by RD was out of order.

    If you wish to convince us of your arguments I suggest moderating your invective and trying to string together some coherent sentences.

    Since you are arguing for inaction and inaction is a choice with potential consequences you have a an obligation to make your case. Therefore, I have some questions for you:

    1 Why do you call the model “closed box physics” when they include both solar inputs and the radiation of energy from the Earth?

    2 What factors need to be included to make them better?

    3 How warm was it in England during the Roman British period?

    4 Other than grapes what evidence is there that it was warm during this period?

    5 How warm does it have to be to grow grapes of the type grown in England at that time?

    6 What evidence is there that grapes were grown in Northern England and to what extent?

    7 Were there other non-climate reasons why grapes where grown in England at that time and how can we distinguish between the effects of changes in social-economic factors and climate factors?

    8 What was the human population of London at the time tropical animals were inhabiting that area?

    9 What was the sea level at that time?

    7 What are the positive and negative feedbacks we have not yet to begun understand?

    Doug Clover

  16. jonno’s and fragment’s posts have always been ‘out of order’ as you will see if you care to look. jonno is a particularly rude little fellow.

    1. A laboratory experiment which cannot include all possible variations in water vapour, pressure etc. Of course the proportion of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is miniscule anyway.

    2. Probably impossible.

    3. Warm enough to grow grapes in the north of England. Thermometers had not been invented then.

    4. I am not aware of any. Probably there are proxies. It is believed, in some circles anyway, that the Romans left Britain because of the deteriorating climate.

    5. Presumeably much the same as now. The temperature requirements of grapes are likely to have been much the same then as now.

    6. Historical records. Do your own search.

    7. People have been making and drinking wine for thousands of years. One assumes that they liked the taste and the alcohol content.

    8. Unknown. To improve your insight try reading Homo Brittanicus by Chris Stringer. A pity he messes up the later chapters with a rant on AGW. You may need to consider what you mean by human in that context.

    9. Probably rather higher than it is now. The stone tools available at the time don’t appear to have been very useful for measuring and recording sea level.

    7. Just about all of them plus a few more that we have not even thought of.

  17. Dewhurst: “You have to show more that that temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide increased together. You have to explain ALL the warmings and coolings in the last few thousand years, better still in the last few million years.”

    OK, so you’ve made no effort whatsoever to find out the extent of scientific knowledge on this subject. There are literally thousands of relevant papers, but this one would be a good start.

    Re those warmer temperatures in the geologically recent past, as the linked paper describes, during the last half-billion years this planet has almost always been substantially warmer than at present. Have you ever wondered why, and exactly what it is that prevents it fron getting sharply warmer again? In short, it’s the CO2. Staying at even 400 ppm for any length of time is enough to melt much of the major ice sheets (among other unpleasant effects). As described here, things were in just such a condition only a few million years ago.

  18. >Since you are arguing for inaction and inaction is a choice with potential consequences you have a an obligation to make your case. Therefore, I have some questions for you:

    You are arguing for action which will be hugely expensive to the taxpayer. Now it is your turn to describe the event which you wish to defer, to estimate the probability of it, to estimate the cost of deferring /preventing the event and to calculate the present day value of the deferrment discounting the expenditure at a suitable discount rate for the time period implicit in your estimates. If you cannot understand this you should not be here and if you cannot do that you should not be demanding taxpayers’ assets to do it. The same message goes for every person here who advocates spending taxpayers’ money on deferring/preventing AGW.

    For example if the discount rate is 8% and we pay one dollar every year to solve this ‘problem’ one hundred years in the future that money ($100.00) is worth only $12.49 today. That is the problem with spending money today on something which only becomes an asset in the future. Basically if the discount rate is around the rate prevailing today and the ‘asset’ is only an asset in the distant future you are throwing money down the drain. It is better if the discount rate is lower. That is why Stern fudged his analysis by using a near zero discount rate.

  19. >Re those warmer temperatures in the geologically recent past, as the linked paper describes, during the last half-billion years this planet has almost always been substantially warmer than at present. Have you ever wondered why, and exactly what it is that prevents it fron getting sharply warmer again? In short, it’s the CO2. Staying at even 400 ppm for any length of time is enough to melt much of the major ice sheets (among other unpleasant effects). As described here, things were in just such a condition only a few million years ago.

    About 600 million years ago there was no organic carbon. It was carbon dioxide or graphite. From then on carbon in the atmosphere was progressively deposited as carbonate and then as coal and oil. Thus carbon dioxide has been progressively removed from the atmosphere. There is far more locked up in carbonate rocks that in coal and oil. Life on land has existed, more of less comfortably, since the middle of the Palaeozoic and has done so whatever the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. If humans had not started to burn coal and oil the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would be at an all time low. As carbonate rocks are continually being formed carbon dioxide would become progressively depleted until vegetation ceases to thrive and food supplies dwindle. We have however interfered somewhat by burning coal and oil. We have increased the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide to some extent. We have not and cannot increase it to the levels that prevailed in the distant past when life thrived. It is utter nonsense to suggest that we are going to drastically change the climate by adding a little carbon dioxide to the miniscule proportion that now remains. It might warm a fraction of a degree. The plants on which we rely for food will grow better. The current rate at which sea level is rising, masked frequently by tectonic movement, will continue until the climate starts to turn down into the next ice age. Then we have problems. Until then there are none.

  20. fragment’s posts have always been ‘out of order’

    Roger, I’ve attempted to be civil towards you and address some of the scientific issues you’ve raised. Please identify those posts of mine you consider to have been “out of order”. If in retrospect I agree with your assessment I will apologise and retract so we can move on more civilly.

  21. Until then there are none

    And we are to take your word for it? A man who can dismiss the physics with a wave of his hand? Who refuses to look at, let alone accept the evidence?

    I’m sorry Roger, but it is really a waste of time trying to have a meaningful discussion with you. There is so little common ground that we might as well be on different planets. I suggest you might find a more receptive audience at Muriel Newman’s little climate crank echo chamber. There they all seem to share your fact-challenged outlook.

  22. About 600 million years ago there was no organic carbon. It was carbon dioxide or graphite.

    By the way, there are carbonate rocks older than that. Just saying because I think it’s good to present as complete a picture of the carbon cycle through geological time as possible.

    Also, any discussion of climate going back that far needs to include the fact that solar radiation was a fair bit weaker back then.

  23. That is why Stern fudged his analysis by using a near zero discount rate.

    Stern discussed at great length his reasons for choosing a low discount rate – it was hardly a “fudge”. It was certainly controversial with some economists, but Stern had to find a way to put a value on the system to be inherited by future generations. This concept of inter-generational equity is difficult to deal with in economic terms, but there is also another factor that needs to be priced – the one-way nature of the changes being imposed on the system. Once the methane starts bubbling out of the permafrost and Siberian seas, we will not be able to put it back. At some point soon, we will be committed to the eventual loss of the Greenland ice cap. Sea level rise could be one or two metres in the next 100 years: a lot of land will be lost – for many, many generations at the very least. Like the king’s horses and the king’s men, we will not be able to put Humpty together again, and there will be no Humpty’s to buy as a replacement – at any price.

  24. Of course he had to!!!!!!!!! When you present bullshit to the public you had better cover it with something!

    Why did it not bubble out when Eric the Red was farming in Greenland?

    If there is a little bit less land we can manage with fewer people. We could have a marvellous environment with a lot less people. We cannot bring back the dodo but we might be able to do something for the Siberian Tiger. By the way are your remains going to the crematorium or the compost heap?

  25. >And we are to take your word for it? A man who can dismiss the physics with a wave of his hand? Who refuses to look at, let alone accept the evidence?

    If the physics is all there is to it there would be only one numerical model and it would not only describe the past but predict the future. There are about six numerical models. Five of them must be wrong and the sixth probably is. It is like playing Russian Roulette with five bullets in the revolver! None of them have been the slightest use in describing the past or predicting the future. There goes your physics Gareth , down the gurgler.

  26. Sorry RD perhaps I was not clear but my questions were a legitimate attempt to explore you arguments.

    On this forum you have expressed very definite opinions. I assumed that they were based on robust evidence and analysis. I was giving you an opportunity to provide us with robust answers that made your points through specific and comprehensive explanations and/or links to relevant peer reviewed research.

    What we got was flippant, or arguments from ignorance (I don’t know therefore no one knows). This was not only not convincing it was dismissive.

    It is clear you have nothing of value to add to this discussion I will ignore you from now on. I suggest others do the same.

    Doug

  27. I have expressed definite opinions. They are based more on my life experience and work than on reading peer reviewed material. Peer reviewing provides no guarantee that the material is not nonsense, selective or dishonest. Mann’s hockey stick and Orestes’ propaganda are examples of this.

    Recently I explained why the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere has progressively declined over hundreds of millions of years and pointed out that life has done very well throughout. I see no reason why a small increase now will bring about any catastrophe. I do not need any peer reviewed bumph to come to that conclusion.

    I also described the process required before a rational decision can be made to spent massive amounts of taxpayers’ money. The equation I used is a stock standard one used in engineering economics.

    The climate models are, in the words of the IPCC, ‘projections’ not predictions. Most here accept them as predictions. They are not, not merely because the IPCC concede that they are not but because they have not been shown to have any use other than milking money out of the soft headed and gullible.

    The principle greenhouse gas is water vapour. If you do not believe that go and spend a night in the desert near Alice Springs and another in Darwin. If that experience does not teach you something then nothing will.

    If and when there is a model that includes water vapour, soils, transpiration, plants, microphyta in the oceans, sun spots, the solar magnetic field, the earth’s magnetic field, many things that I have not mentioned plus many things which have not yet been thought of, you might just have the basis for a model that works, if indeed there is someone smart enough to tune it!

    If you, or anyone else, cares to provide me with an email address I will send a graph showing, since 1860, global temperature, sunspot activity and carbon dioxide. Carol Stewart has a copy and so does Gareth Renowden. If you do not want to get it from me try either of them. I do not think that you will wish to dispute either the temperature curve or the carbon dioxide curve. You will not like to see the sunspot curve on the same page though. It does nothing for your case.

    You and others may wish to argue that hippopotamus and crocodile bones dating back to one of the later interglacials and found during excavations in London do not provide any indication of climate at the time. And Gareth talks about brick walls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  28. http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.Blogs&ContentRecord_id=2158072e-802a-23ad-45f0-274616db87e6

    POZNAN, Poland – The UN global warming conference currently underway in Poland is about to face a serious challenge from over 650 dissenting scientists from around the globe who are criticizing the climate claims made by the UN IPCC and former Vice President Al Gore. Set for release this week, a newly updated U.S. Senate Minority Report features the dissenting voices of over 650 international scientists, many current and former UN IPCC scientists, who have now turned against the UN. The report has added about 250 scientists (and growing) in 2008 to the over 400 scientists who spoke out in 2007. The over 650 dissenting scientists are more than 12 times the number of UN scientists (52) who authored the media hyped IPCC 2007 Summary for Policymakers.

    It seems that the tide is turning!!!!!!!!!!!

  29. http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.Blogs&ContentRecord_id=2158072e-802a-23ad-45f0-274616db87e6

    POZNAN, Poland – The UN global warming conference currently underway in Poland is about to face a serious challenge from over 650 dissenting scientists from around the globe who are criticizing the climate claims made by the UN IPCC and former Vice President Al Gore. Set for release this week, a newly updated U.S. Senate Minority Report features the dissenting voices of over 650 international scientists, many current and former UN IPCC scientists, who have now turned against the UN. The report has added about 250 scientists (and growing) in 2008 to the over 400 scientists who spoke out in 2007. The over 650 dissenting scientists are more than 12 times the number of UN scientists (52) who authored the media hyped IPCC 2007 Summary for Policymakers.

  30. A hint of what the upcoming report contains:

    “I am a skeptic…Global warming has become a new religion.” – Nobel Prize Winner for Physics, Ivar Giaever.

    “Since I am no longer affiliated with any organization nor receiving any funding, I can speak quite frankly….As a scientist I remain skeptical.” – 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.”

    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.

    “The IPCC has actually become a closed circuit; it doesn’t listen to others. It doesn’t have open minds… I am really amazed that the Nobel Peace Prize has been given on scientifically incorrect conclusions by people who are not geologists,” – Indian geologist Dr. Arun D. Ahluwalia at Punjab University and a board member of the UN-supported International Year of the Planet.

    “The models and forecasts of the UN IPCC “are incorrect because they only are based on mathematical models and presented results at scenarios that do not include, for example, solar activity.” – Victor Manuel Velasco Herrera, a researcher at the Institute of Geophysics of the National Autonomous University of Mexico

    “It is a blatant lie put forth in the media that makes it seem there is only a fringe of scientists who don’t buy into anthropogenic global warming.” – U.S Government Atmospheric Scientist Stanley B. Goldenberg of the Hurricane Research Division of NOAA.

    “Even doubling or tripling the amount of carbon dioxide will virtually have little impact, as water vapour and water condensed on particles as clouds dominate the worldwide scene and always will.” – . Geoffrey G. Duffy, a professor in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering of the University of Auckland, NZ.

    “After reading [UN IPCC chairman] Pachauri’s asinine comment [comparing skeptics to] Flat Earthers, it’s hard to remain quiet.” – Climate statistician Dr. William M. Briggs, who specializes in the statistics of forecast evaluation, serves on the American Meteorological Society’s Probability and Statistics Committee and is an Associate Editor of Monthly Weather Review.

    “For how many years must the planet cool before we begin to understand that the planet is not warming? For how many years must cooling go on?” – Geologist Dr. David Gee the chairman of the science committee of the 2008 International Geological Congress who has authored 130 plus peer reviewed papers, and is currently at Uppsala University in Sweden.

    “Gore prompted me to start delving into the science again and I quickly found myself solidly in the skeptic camp…Climate models can at best be useful for explaining climate changes after the fact.” – Meteorologist Hajo Smit of Holland, who reversed his belief in man-made warming to become a skeptic, is a former member of the Dutch UN IPCC committee.

    “Many [scientists] are now searching for a way to back out quietly (from promoting warming fears), without having their professional careers ruined.” – Atmospheric physicist James A. Peden, formerly of the Space Research and Coordination Center in Pittsburgh.

    “Creating an ideology pegged to carbon dioxide is a dangerous nonsense…The present alarm on climate change is an instrument of social control, a pretext for major businesses and political battle. It became an ideology, which is concerning.” – Environmental Scientist Professor Delgado Domingos of Portugal, the founder of the Numerical Weather Forecast group, has more than 150 published articles.

    “CO2 emissions make absolutely no difference one way or another….Every scientist knows this, but it doesn’t pay to say so…Global warming, as a political vehicle, keeps Europeans in the driver’s seat and developing nations walking barefoot.” – Dr. Takeda Kunihiko, vice-chancellor of the Institute of Science and Technology Research at Chubu University in Japan.

    “The [global warming] scaremongering has its justification in the fact that it is something that generates funds.” – Award-winning Paleontologist Dr. Eduardo Tonni, of the Committee for Scientific Research in Buenos Aires and head of the Paleontology Department at the University of La Plata. # #

  31. In what respect do you suggest that I am wrong? Lambert starts off with an attack on an Australian geologist that I have never heard of and then presents a graph representing recent sea level change. Mean sea level may well be rising at the rate of 3.3mm per year. In many places that is masked by tectonic uplift or the reverse, or by glacial rebound or its inverse. Coral islands keep up with sea level rise as they always have. Coral growth keeps up with sea level rise and every so often storms smash the coral and pile it up on the beaches. Sea level has risen about a hundred metres since the last glaciation. The corals managed to keep up.

    One of the argument put forward by the warmers revolves around the speed
    of climatic change. They argue that climatic change now is faster than
    it has ever been. In one or more previous interglacials Britain had a
    tropical fauna. Let us consider how it came to be there. If the change
    from glacial to tropical conditions had been slow sea level rise would
    have accompanied the gradual warming. The tropical fauna could only
    have reached Britain across a land bridge. We know that Britain was
    connected to Europe when sea level was low during glacial times. I
    suggest that the change from glacial to interglacial was so rapid that
    the fauna was able to migrate across the land bridge before sea level
    rose sufficiently to close it. The same logic applies to H. sapiens who
    did not even appear in southern Europe until 40,000 years ago, at the
    height of the last glaciation.

  32. If we accept that sea level has risen about 100 metres and has been rising at the rate of 3.3 mm per year some 30,000 years would be needed to achieve the present day level. Since the last glaciation ended 10 to 15 thousand years ago, depending on where you want to draw the line, it must have been rising very much faster in the past. That is the rate of sea level rise must decline over time, which is what any reasonable person would expect.

  33. I suggest that the change from glacial to interglacial was so rapid…

    Or you could look at some actual data of sea level changes out of glacial conditions and notice that there’s 10,000 years or so between the last glacial maximum and the attainment of relatively stable sea levels. Notice also that sea level changes lagged the temperature changes by something like 2000 years, suggesting one won’t be a very good proxy for the other on shorter time scales.

  34. Roger, the lag is in the attainment of the full response of sea level to temperature change, not in when that response started. Ice begins to melt as soon as the temperature rises, but it takes a while for it all to melt. My apologies for not clarifying by stating that piece of simple physics.

  35. >Over 130 years ago NZ scientists were publishing proof that Roger is correct in his earlier claim that ” The principle greenhouse gas is water vapour.”

    A great pity that some did not pay attention.

  36. >There also is the issue of rate of change… which can be seen by reading the article above… it’s something you seem not to properly understand Roger.

    It is the problem of a tropical fauna living in Britain during an interglacial that you do not appear to understand.

  37. I doubt anyone would disagree Roger, it still doesn’t change the fact that increases of atmospheric carbon dioxide has changed the climate over the last 30 years.

    Let me give you an example, chimps and humans share 97% DNA, the 3% makes a huge difference.

    (And before you try insult me, no I am not a chimp, you sophomoric man)

  38. >………, it still doesn’t change the fact that increases of atmospheric carbon dioxide has changed the climate over the last 30 years.

    A mere assertion that is rapidly losing credibility. All you have is superficial correlation over a few decades, dubious models based on carbon dioxide rather than the far more important water vapour and many other factors, and some closed box physics.

    If you care to provide your email address I will provide you with a bit more proof.

  39. Roger
    Just in case you think no-one here understands your economic analysis

    “Basically if the discount rate is around the rate prevailing today and the ‘asset’ is only an asset in the distant future you are throwing money down the drain.”

    Your simple analysis ignores two key issues:
    1. Money spent on mitigation isn’t just removed from the economy. It can build assets which have value today and help wean us off diminishing fossil fuel reserves.
    2. The cost of mitigation at this point is expected to be less than the cost of remediation in future (in present day terms). In this case deferring the cost is not a sensible economic choice.

    Andrew

  40. Roger – I’m amazed that you’re consistently able to ignore damming refutations of your arguments. I want to ask two direct questions of you:
    – do you agree that using 1998 as a start date for making conclusions on temperature change is misleading?
    – do you agree that peer reviewed and published science has more weight than your email proof?

  41. As you may know, some 31,000 scientists across all disciplines have
    signed a declaration that they do not agree with the “official” alarm.
    Van Storch et al. (2005), in a scientific survey, found very substantial
    opposition to the official view among climatologists and researchers in
    related fields. Schulte (2008), after reviewing 539 peer-reviewed papers
    on the climate published since the beginning of 2004, found that not a
    single paper provided any evidence that “catastrophe” would occur, even
    in the unlikely event that the UN’s exaggerated and long-discredited
    estimates of the warming rate to be expected from CO2 were to prove correct.

    Our research indicates that the notion that there is a “consensus” and
    that “the science is settled” arose in an international-Left
    pressure-group, the Institute for Public Policy Research, late in 2006.
    This organization widely circulated a suggestion that the Left should
    cease to argue the science (they were losing) and should instead declare
    that the science was settled, a suggestion that was adopted with
    alacrity worldwide.

    In the real world, however, the scientific literature is full of papers
    that fundamentally question every aspect of the largely-manufactured
    case for alarm, and a growing number of scientists are no longer
    prepared to believe in the alarmist cause, even where their jobs are at
    risk if they fail to knuckle under.

    I could provide an attribution for what appears above.

  42. >Roger – I’m amazed that you’re consistently able to ignore damming refutations of your arguments.

    What refutations do you have in mind?

    >I want to ask two direct questions of you:
    – do you agree that using 1998 as a start date for making conclusions on temperature change is misleading?

    It is six of one half a dozen of the other whether the starting date is 1908, 1948 or 1998. It is your lot who want to draw conclusions on short periods. Consequently some of the climatic realists have chosen to play the game by your rules. My own view is that we should look to distinct periods of warming and cooling over much longer periods.

  43. >2. The cost of mitigation at this point is expected to be less than the cost of remediation in future (in present day terms). In this case deferring the cost is not a sensible economic choice.

    You have of course reliable estimates of the probabilities, costs and time?

    Perhaps you would care to provide them? In other words piss or get off the pot.

  44. Are you referring to Lambert’s blog?

    If so a computer geek’s blog is hardly authoritative. I suggest that my post #34 is indicative of the real situation. There is a nice list of real authorities there. Go and quibble with them if you like.

    You have some more ‘refutations’?

  45. You are a nobody, no name, no email address, just a bit of electronic dirt. Who cares whether you read my posts or not. Should I care if I annoy a stupid and insignificant parasite? If you have any cojones, which I doubt, post your real name, email address and anything else which identifies you as a taxpayer in this country.

  46. Roger,

    I take it you didn’t actually read the paper then?
    And as for condemning those with aliases; does this mean we should think likewise of those like “lank” who went so far as to claim a doctorate but declined to back this up?

  47. >I take it you didn’t actually read the paper then?

    The one to which you referred? If so, no. I do not have access to it.

    >And as for condemning those with aliases; does this mean we should think likewise of those like “lank” who went so far as to claim a doctorate but declined to back this up?

    I do not see any connection between someone who prefers to hide behind an alias and someone such as ‘lank’. I do not know who this ‘lank’ is but I suppose you are referring to that female ex senior public servant who is now charged with something or other which might include falsely claiming to have doctorate.

  48. By Climatologist Dr. Roy W. Spencer, formerly a senior scientist for climate studies at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center where he received NASA’s Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal, and currently principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and responsible, together with John Christie, for the satellite records of atmospheric/surface temperatures since 1979.

    University of Alabama in Huntsville 15 March, 2008

    As a climate scientist, I would like to see some answers to a few basic global warming science questions which I’m sure the U.N.’s Ministry of Global Warming Truth (also known as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC) can handle. After all, since they are 90% confident that recent global warming is manmade, they surely must have already addressed these issues:

    1) Why are ALL of the 20+ IPCC climate models more sensitive in their total cloud feedback than published estimates of cloud feedbacks in the real climate system (Forster and Gregory, J. Climate, 2006)? If the answer is that “there are huge error bars on our observational estimates of feedback”, then doesn’t that mean that it is just as likely that the real climate system is very insensitive (making manmade global warming a non-problem) as it is to be as sensitive as the IPCC models claim it is?

    2) And regarding those observational estimates of (somewhat) positive cloud feedbacks: How do you know that the cloud changes that have been observed during temperature changes really are “feedbacks”? In other words, how do you know that the temperature changes caused the cloud changes, rather than the other way around? This basic distinction between cause and effect is critical because such a misinterpretation will ALWAYS make the climate system look more sensitive than it really is (e.g., it is energetically impossible for more low clouds to cause a warming). Doesn’t it seem like a coincidence that the ONE case were we know that there was a huge non-cloud forcing (the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo) resulted in a negative solar shortwave cloud feedback, whereas all other periods showed supposedly positive shortwave cloud “feedback”?

    3) As a follow on to question 2, we all agree that there has been strong global-average warming since the 1970’s. Well, how do you know this wasn’t the result of a small, natural change in cloud cover? Doesn’t it seem like (another) coincidence that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) just happened to shift to a different mode in 1977, about the time that the warming started? (Please don’t say that the greater warming over land versus ocean is consistent with manmade greenhouse gas forcing…because it is also consistent with ANY kind of change in the Earth’s radiant energy budget, whether natural or manmade.)

    The fact is, we DON’T know how much of recent warming is natural, simply because we don’t have good enough global cloud observations back to the 1970’s (and earlier) to measure any long-term changes in cloudiness to the required accuracy – 1% or less.

    The same cause-versus-effect uncertainty is true of any other climate variable as well, for instance water vapor, our main greenhouse gas. A small change in precipitation efficiency (the main process which ultimately limits the strength of the natural greenhouse effect) could cause a change in average water vapor content, which then would change the average temperature. In other words, increased water vapor doesn’t have to only result from warming…warming can also result from increased water vapor.

    The fact that we don’t have a good enough understanding (or observations) of cloud changes, or precipitation efficiency changes, on decadal time scales to document such potential mechanisms seems like pretty weak justification for blaming all of our recent warming on mankind. And if you say, “well, the IPCC doesn’t claim that ALL of the warming is manmade…”, then tell me: About what percentage of the warming IS natural, and how did you come up with that quantitative estimate?

    I fear that the sloppy science that too many climate researchers have lapsed into could, in the end, hurt our scientific discipline beyond repair. The very high level of certainty (90%) claimed by the IPCC for their manmade explanation for warming can not be justified based upon the scientific evidence, and is little more than an expression of their faith that they understand the causes of climate variability – which they clearly don’t.

    For those scientists who value their scientific reputations, I would advise that they distance themselves from politically-motivated claims of a “scientific consensus” on the causes of global warming — before it is too late. Don’t let five Norwegians on the Nobel Prize committee be the arbiters of what is good science.

    For a good description of the physics go to

    http://www.barrettbellamyclimate.com/index.htm

  49. “Climatologist Dr. Roy W. Spencer”

    Well the first para (by Dewhurst) is a plain “argument from authority” fallacy. Back to that Spencer piece quoted by Dewhurst:

    “Impact of global dimming and brightening on global warming” Wild et al 2007 GRL.

    “Recent solar brightening cannot supersede the greenhouse effect as main cause of global warming, since land temperatures increased by 0.8C from 1960 to 2000, even though solar brightening did not fully outweigh solar dimming within this period.”

    The solar brightening they refer to is within the atmospheric column due to aerosols. However clouds would have the same effect on surface insolation.

    “In the majority of the surface solar radiation records from GEBA we find that, despite the widespread trend reversal from dimming to brightening, the amount of solar radiation at the surface has not reached the 1960 level. Despite the fact that surface insolation at the turn of the millennium is rather lower than in the 1960s, land surface temperatures have increased by 0.8C over this period (Figure 1). This suggests that the net effect of surface solar forcing over the past decades cannot be the principal driver behind the overall temperature increase, since over the past 40 years, cooling from solar dimming still outweighs warming from solar brightening”

    So that appears to leave Spencer hanging on nighttime cloud impacts on OLR….

    We have observations of change in OLR spectra, strato/mesospheric cooling, diurnal trend and the time evolution of temperature w.r.t. CO2 emissions that all back up AGW theory. Spencer seems to me to be playing a game of trying to use a handful of A4 sheets to hide the elephant before us. But it still looks like an elephant to me, although I will concede it might be a shaved mammoth. 😉

    Steve Bloom,
    If the denialists actually read and honestly comprehended the science they’d end up like me: Persuaded.

  50. “In other words piss or get off the pot.”

    Charming as always Roger, I’m surprised tit-sucking hasn’t got a mention in this thread.

    For the record it is you who has asserted that any attempt to mitigate climate change is money down the drain. Then you conveniently ignore my first point that much of this money can be spent on building assets that have value today (eg renewable energy development).

    For point 2 of course I have no “reliable estimates of probabilities etc” that will satisfy you (so I won’t even bother looking for them). But, just consider how many times will the USA re-build New Orleans before they decide it is necessary to move it to somewhere above sea level.

  51. And…re Dewhurst at #34 – the lead from Morano’s list, Joanne Simpson, is more interesting when quoted in full, as is kindly done by Roger Pielke Sr.

    “What should we as a nation do? Decisions have to be made on incomplete information. In this case, we must act on the recommendations of Gore and the IPCC because if we do not reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and the climate models are right, the planet as we know it will in this century become unsustainable. But as a scientist I remain skeptical.”

    Hear that Dewhurst!?……. she get’s risk management, shouldn’t be too hard for a geologist (it is bread and butter for most of the geologists I know).

  52. Hell no Roger,

    “Lank” has previously claimed here to hold a doctorate and that we should therefore believe them. I say, as you appear to, that such a claim is simply masturbatory tosh until they front up with an identity. Therefore, like you I give *much* less credence to the eructations of anonymice. Not to say they don’t make contributions but when one of them tries to shout down opposition with Authority not backed up with evidence of why they should be considered an Authority then I say they are simply a spineless fraud.

    (This is to say nothing of the argument from Authority idea as per Inhofe’s list).

Leave a Reply