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General Climate Discussion (1)

Update: Please head over to the new Discussions page!

Due to the incredible (and continuing) response in the comments on my post about Guy McPherson, I’m creating a fresh thread for general discussions or questions about climate here. Any comments specific to the Guy McPherson post can continue there.

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625 thoughts on “General Climate Discussion (1)

  1. In the spirit of Richard Alley and those believing we can turn things around from the deadly direction we are heading presently, I give to you the following two videos. Enjoy!

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  2. Jennifer Francis and Kevin Trenberth – Is Global Warming Driving Crazy Winters?

    and

    Youtube: Two Expert — and Diverging — Views on Arctic’s Impact on Weather ‘Whiplash’

    Both are Trenberth and Francis discussing/debating her Arctic Amplification theory. Fascinating to watch as her theory gets fleshed out, the more they learn.

    She now thinks the increase in water vapor in the arctic may be more important than sea-ice loss in the lopsided increase of temperatures in the arctic.

    Trenberth says there just isn’t that much water vapor going into the atmosphere in an arctic winter because it’s “land-locked”. I think “ice-locked” would have been a better term.

    Francis says water vapor migrates north.

    Both recordings are worth hearing/watching.

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  3. This question is a little late in coming, but – just where did 2014 come down in terms of rank for Arctic minimum extent? I know NSIDC put it down as sixth lowest, and on their graphs, this year is just below 2013, but some of the agencies linked to here: https://sites.google.com/site/arcticseaicegraphs/

    Have graphs where this year comes in slightly ABOVE 2013.

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    1. I don’t actually look closely enough at the other datasets to know- I usually settle for NSIDC. Depending on different methods/instruments/etc. you’re always going to get slightly different numbers, and you can see how close it was to last year: http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/files/2014/09/Figure22.png It’s a bit like how average global temperature rankings vary a bit from dataset to dataset.

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  4. http://arstechnica.com/science/2014/10/the-oceans-got-hotter-than-we-thought-but-the-heat-stayed-shallow/

    I heard about this a little before your article went up, but the links you put in your piece led me to Schmidt’s Twitter notes on how this affects climate sensitivity (BTW, for the interested – Schmidt’s first tweet estimated that ECS goes from 1.1-4.1C to 1.1-6.1C, but after looking at the data, he revised that to 1.1-4.7C. Some prominent blogs coughrobertscribblercough took the “6.1C” figure and ran with it, missing the revision, and haven’t corrected themselves when last I looked).

    But one point on this story has confused me – it sounds as if this is a case where the models were right, and there just wasn’t enough good data to bear them out. But if that’s the case, how much need is there to revise estimates like ECS? My intuition would be that this data just confirms past modelling.

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    1. It’s difficult to say exactly what this means for the models. I’d wanted to dig more into that, but the first person I’d contacted was out, and Gavin didn’t give me much detail on that point. But at any rate, I think the bigger questions are elsewhere- aerosols, clouds, etc. Even with the ocean warming numbers updated, that Lewis & Curry ECS calculation isn’t going to wiggle above 2C I don’t think. There are other reasons for that, and there’s a healthy discussion about the utility of these simple-energy-balance-equation ECS estimates based on observed trends. It’s tricky stuff.

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      1. “It’s difficult to say exactly what this means for the models. I’d wanted to dig more into that, but the first person I’d contacted was out, and Gavin didn’t give me much detail on that point. But at any rate, I think the bigger questions are elsewhere- aerosols, clouds, etc.”

        I’m afraid I just got more confused. Where do aerosols and clouds come in with this new data?

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      2. They don’t relate to the ocean heat content data question, they relate to your question about revising estimates of ECS. It’s the other sources of uncertainty that prevent us from narrowing the range for ECS.

        It’s possibly I don’t understand your question properly…

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      3. Well, now you’ve explained the reference to aerosols, I’m cleared up on that.

        I don’t know if I phrased my question on modelling the right way. What I meant was – because this story sounds like a case where models turned out to be right, and models are used for many many things, ECS being one of them, I didn’t see how these new findings demanded any sort of major revisions to projections/predictions on what’s coming our way, which is what some of the coverage of these findings made it sound like.

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      4. Okay, gotcha. I would agree with what you’re saying. The academic argument about these recent observation-based sensitivity estimates is a separate one.

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  5. Perhaps the best introduction I’ve ever seen on methane hydrates, and so, I wanted to share this lecture in 2008 by Dr. Miriam Kastner from Scripps Institution of Oceanography on Methane Hydrates: Natural Hazard or Natural Resource? – Perspectives on Ocean Science. With 135+ publications in peer-reviewed journals, and hugely accomplished resume, she is considered an expert on oceanography and geochemistry. Here is her wikipedia page. Here is her resume at Scripps. Enjoy!

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  6. Hi SJ and all,

    This last week, my wife and I went to Yosemite for vacation and while there, my wife and I were surprised by something we and several other people noticed in the sky. I’d love to have your opinion(s) on it.

    First, as we were driving along the 5 towards Yosemite, we noticed the sky was a bizarre pure milky white color with a few scattered clouds beneath. Really strange looking. We got into Yosemite when it was night, and I didn’t give it much more thought. The next day, we awoke about 8 in the a.m. to beautiful blue skies and no clouds. Then around 9 a.m. I looked up and saw planes flying overhead, several planes nearly converging and each laying a line of contrails. I know about chemtrails, I’ve heard about them before, but I’ve always been very skeptical of that kind of thing.

    Whatever it was that came out of the planes surely didn’t look like any contrail I’ve ever seen. Rather than dissipate, they grew thicker, spread and merged into a solid milky sky that lasted all day. It was cold under those skies but hours later the stuff would thin, the sun would come out and the temps would soar to just plain hot. Planes would come again and the process would be repeated. This lasted from at least Wednesday when we arrived until Friday. Several planes would cross the sky at different angles and once even converged like the spokes of a bike. Another time they layed down a perfect grid pattern. I took several pictures and I noticed that several other people were doing the same or just pointing up.

    Then last Saturday, the planes were gone and, perhaps coincidentally, the sky remained a deep, nearly cloudless blue all day long. It was nice as photography under milky skies is rather flat and boring.

    My question is, what do you think that was? I’ve never heard of contrails that grow thicker and last all day. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I’d love to know what could cause this, and if it was deliberately caused, what the heck were they laying down and why?

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    1. Hi John-

      You can rest easy, there’s absolutely nothing even remotely physically plausible about the “chemtrail” conspiracy theories. Here’s a recent summary with some good links: http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/14-10-15/ And an exhaustive resource: http://contrailscience.com/
      The stuff that people get worked up about has to do with temperature and moisture conditions aloft, which make contrails behave differently.

      I can’t tell exactly what kind of weather you were experiencing from your description– but I’m not a meteorologist! I would suggest finding the weather maps and satellite coverage from those days if you’re curious. Here’s a nice place to do that: http://wxug.us/1lada

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    1. Uh, SJ… on the contrary, from my reading of it, this article actually proves the point.

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      1. I don’t think so- the general position brought to me here has been that governments interfere with the writing of the reports in order to downplay the risks of climate change. (Climate “skeptics” who harangue me, by the way, frequently assert it the other way, that the governments interfere to exaggerate climate change.) Here is the normal review process for summary documents on display, where government reps comment on drafts to say what they would like spelled out more clearly, etc. (And the writers don’t have to do what they say.)

        But in this case, the comments being aired push in the opposite direction, with governments asking for the report to more directly and explicitly state the reasons for concern. (As noted at the end of that article, most of the comments are incredibly tedious… You can peruse some of the thousands of comments some time when you’re having trouble falling asleep.)

        Did you read it differently?

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  7. This is a rather random question, but – what exactly happens during an anoxic event in waters? I ask because, if anoxia is the total depletion of oxygen, and water is made up of hydrogen and oxygen, I have a hard time wrapping my head around the process. How does it go anoxic without turning into another substance?

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    1. It’s not the depletion of oxygen from water molecules, it’s the depletion of oxygen gas dissolved in the water. Maybe a winter fish kill is a simple example. In some places with nutrient pollution, you get tons of plant growth that results in tons of rotting plant matter over the winter. Once a lake is frozen over, oxygen stops mixing in so readily. Bacteria much on the plant matter and use up the oxygen until there’s nothing left for the fish to breathe, and you find a massacre of suffocated fish when the ice finally melts…

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  8. Programming note: I finally gave in and paid WordPress for custom design control of this blog. I brightened up the font color, increased the line spacing, and bumped up the font size. How’s the readability now? Feedback appreciated. (Especially on font size- I know it will look different for folks with smaller screen resolutions. Is it too big?)

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    1. I think I prefer the brighter fonts. Not sure about the line spacing—it’s a little unusual. Size—it’s easier to adjust your browser down than up, so it doesn’t matter to me.

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      1. In experimenting, I found that greater line spacing made it a lot easier to read light-on-dark fonts.

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    2. Thanks for doing that! I like it better. :) Any way to give others who post here the same tools you have for embedding hyperlinks, etc?

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  9. Hi Scott, Thanks for your reply. Thing of it is, I don’t ever remember seeing contrails like those I saw last week. Aren’t contrails just water vapor? I can’t see why it would become thicker, denser, spread widely and last all day. And the planes were actually crossing over one another a few times, flying at different angles to one another. What airport allows that? I’m not saying it wasn’t just water vapor, but I never saw that before say a decade ago or so.

    About your formatting questiuon for your blog. My opinion, I’d prefer a larger font. It’s still pretty small and I have a large monitor.

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    1. It could be that weather conditions are rarely right for that where you live. And I think we have a tendency to not notice a certain thing until the first time it grabs our attention, without realizing we’ve actually seen it before. Contrails are indeed just water vapor (along with a little pollution- like the tailpipe of a car)– but remember that it freezes up there. (And at any rate, what substance would you think could spread in a way that water vapor couldn’t?) The second link I gave has lots of details on when contrails can spread out and persist longer than other times. It also gives lots of examples of all the different sorts of contrails you might see going back as long as we’ve had planes.

      Crossing paths at different altitudes or times really isn’t uncommon- it all depends on where the air travel routes are. That website also includes a nice map of flight paths.

      Thanks for the font feedback.

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  10. I wonder how to estimate methane emissions from fracking, and when they will be included in the IPCC report. See Green groups say EPA underestimates methane leaks from fracking. When I see things like this, added to other things like emissions from the US military outside US borders not being included in IPCC report, I start to wonder just how many other things are not being included in the models.

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    1. That’s back in that same methane paper. The error bars on that stuff are big enough that the uncertainty about shale gas leakage doesn’t move anything.

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  11. Climate Scientists: IPCC Is Wrong—We Need a 1-Degree Limit on Warming

    This is Popular Mechanic’s coverage of Hansen, et al’s version of the IPCC report, which does away with bureaucracy, politics, and unnecessary delays and distills the science down to less than 200 pages (plus references) . Its recommendation is the carbon emission Fee & Dividend style tax on fossil fuel producers that would be popular and effective. Leadership would have to come from the U.S. and China, with the U.S. really the only obstacle, since China is ready and waiting.

    Hansen et al’s paper is coming up on its one year anniversary, Dec. 3.

    The old addage: You don’t like it, let’s see you do better!
    Hansen walks the walk.

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  12. http://phys.org/news/2014-10-microbe-key-player-climate.html

    I’ve two questions on this one. The first is a general curiosity on how big an impact this microbe could have, on modelling/projections/predictions and on the ecosystem in general.

    The second concerns this bit:

    “This has been a major shortcoming of current climate models. Because they assume the wrong isotope ratio coming out of the wetlands, the models overestimate carbon released by biological processes and underestimate carbon released by human activities such as fossil-fuel burning.”

    This quote really threw me. For an article about the impact a microbe has on climate, this quote seems to downplay the impact of such creatures as compared to human activity. I don’t really see the context.

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    1. This is a really interesting study that I haven’t had the time to fully understand.

      First, the opening sentence seems out of place. (PhysOrg just republishes university press releases, and those aren’t always great.) I don’t see an effect on the amount of future emissions here, though I would assume this won’t be the last study involving these bugs. I don’t know what else understanding them will tell us. But they’re not new, and they’ve been part of the permafrost changes we’ve been watching all along.

      Second, the most interesting implication off the top here simply involves bookkeeping. We can use the isotopic ratio of carbon in atmospheric methane to get at the contributions of various emissions sources. (It’s kind of like back-calculating the amount of blue and yellow paint that mixed to make a certain shade of green.) Since these microbes produce a different ratio than we’ve been using, our math must be off to some extent. The emissions pie should be re-sliced accordingly. What they’re saying is that the error should have led to us overestimating microbial emissions and underestimating anthropogenic emissions (again, to some extent).

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      1. Hank Roberts, who sometimes comments here, made an interesting remark on this on RealClimate. That these methaoflorens aren’t new, though they are new to human knowledge. Though the rapidity of climate change may be a different factor now, these microbes haven’t (apparently) caused catastrophe in the past, so are probably not a new source of worry, now thst we know they’re there.

        I’m not sure I totally buy that but it’s worth thinking about.

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  13. Dear Scott,

    I just watched the IPCC AR5 SYR Opening Session here, and more notably, Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, talk about the importance of limiting warming to 2 C. Though I appreciate all the good things she says, how on Earth can Figueres talk about “limiting climate change to less than two degrees celsisus” (see 3:21 minute mark), when emissions are increasing and the long-term effects of CO2 warming not happening until well after the fact – 40-60 years later. Obviously, to me, she’s talking about ECS, or short-term effects, but what about ESS, or long-term effects? The IPCC AR5 doesn’t include consideration of numerous feedbacks such as increased albedo with arctic ice melt, etc., and does not enact the precautionary principle of admitting to the fact that there might be unknown unknowns such methane clathrate destabilization. As Jason Box twitted recently, even if a fraction of this gets into the air, were f#$%ed!

    Why does Figueres say that we must limit warming to less than 2 C when climate models suggest ESS warming will be much higher over the long-term? It seems fair to me to say that we are already at 2 C when including delayed effects of CO2 warming over the next 40-60 years and feedbacks?

    I notice Michael Mann in his Scientific American article earlier this year saying something similar, that we will reach 2 C by 2036 with BAU. He, too, seems to be doing the same thing. James Hansen is saying “we must put a price on carbon” and the importance of instituting a global carbon tax, but not ramming home the importance of the delayed effects of warming. It seems to me much more appropriate to be talking about the reality of the delayed effects of warming and that we won’t feel it until 40-60 years later. This fact should be, I believe, immediately integrated into all climate change estimates – especially a synthesis report. Am I wrong to be thinking this? Where is the fault in my reasoning here? I must be missing something really important.

    Thanks, as always!

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    1. I’ll leave some related points for your next posts. First, I think you’re making unwarranted assumptions about what people mean when they talk about the 2C target. As I’m surely you’re painfully aware by now, these things depend on the detailed constraints chosen for an individual conversation. I would say that these conversations are normally about stabilizing a temperature this century. Mann was making a separate point- on this road, when might we pass the 2 mile marker.

      To give you a feel for the long-term response stuff, the RCP 4.5 scenario, in which CO2 (equiv) stabilizes around 650 ppm by 2100 and stays there, hits nearly +2C (baseline: 1986-2005) by 2100. By 2300, it has nudged up to about +2.5C. You can see this on Figure 12.5 in AR5.

      Let me once more make my pitch that, to a large extent, this 500-years-forward outlook isn’t very useful. I find it completely implausible that we can’t develop and implement an effective way to draw down atmospheric CO2 long before then. So, in a way, we’re not locked into the long-term stuff because we can still modify it.

      I’m not sure where you got the impression that “[de]creased albedo with Arctic ice melt” isn’t part of the analysis. It is. And the reports do talk about unknowns like clathrates (which I would argue are not “unknown” unkowns). All scientific assessments are based on the best understanding of the time. And I think concern about significant “unknown unknowns” is mitigated by paleoclimate research.

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    2. I think there is confusion among all the acronyms. TCR (transient climate response), ECS and ESS have different meanings and I’m not sure I understand them all (but thanks to Scott for explaining them). I don’t know where you got the 40-60 years figure but I understand that James Hansen showed that about 60% of the ultimate effect of CO2 in the atmosphere occurs within 25-40 years. That’s probably the TCR or maybe 60% of ECS.
      I think you’re right that it’s wrong to ignore the long term effects. If we want to limit the warming to less than 2 degrees (Hansen thinks this is far too high, though), then that should be over the long term or else it should be shown why 2 degrees in 200 years is OK when 2 degrees in 20 years isn’t.

      Mann showed that, with BAU, we get to 2C in about 20 years. I guess the hope is that we don’t do BAU, to avoid getting to 2C at all. I don’t fancy our chances.

      Scott doesn’t seem so worried about longer term effects (many centuries) as he sees it as implausible that humans wouldn’t be able to develop carbon sucking technology by then. That’s an extremely optimistic outlook and requires a belief that some responsible society stays more or less intact for that length of time. I think that is highly implausible given the various environmental predicaments bearing down on our societies at an increasingly rapid pace (climate change, ocean acidification and biodiversity loss to name just three critical ones). We’ve already passed or are close to passing a number of critical boundaries in what would be a safe operating space for humanity. It’s going to be hard to hold civilisation and societies together in light of this.

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  14. Dear Scott,

    On another note, we often hear terms like ECS and ESS, short-term and long-term effects of climate to warming and cooling, but what about something in between?

    Does the IPCC and scientific community have a way of referring to medium-term earth climate sensitivity? Perhaps they already do it, but just don’t have a term such as ECS or ESS, or perhaps, I’m guessing, it’s already included in ECS.

    Thanks!

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    1. Remember that these terms are just handy conventions to simplify things. They’re apples-to-apples sections of a continuous process.

      Immediate response to rising CO2 is Transient Climate Response (TCR).
      The one-to-a-few centuries response (encompassing the so-called “fast” feedbacks) is Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity (ECS).
      The many-millennia response (ostensibly encompassing the totality of feedbacks) is Earth System Sensitivity (ESS).

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  15. Hi, Scott.

    Another general question.

    Michael Mann in his Scientific American article said the following: “The preindustrial level of CO2 was about 280 parts per million (ppm), so double is roughly 560 ppm.” I don’t get how Mann arrived at 280 ppm for the pre-industrial level of CO2. The reason I don’t get it is because the averages of pre-industrial CO2 have gone between approximately 180 to 280 ppm over millenia, so the average of CO2 would have been 230, not 280 ppm (180+280/2). Thus, a doubling would be 460 ppm, not 560 ppm. I think this is something really important to consider, and that Mann might be under-estimating climate change impacts by using the 280 ppm number. Your thoughts? Thanks!

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    1. Hey, there. I think I just answered my own question after looking again at this video (see 1:20 min mark):

      Clearly, Mann took the pre-industrial CO2 280 ppm concentration figure because it is what pre-dates industrial activity, and it would be accepted by all – even climate deniers, perhaps. Maybe there is more to this than that, and I’m all ears. However, this is, to me, not the full picture because we need to consider a baseline as the full range of temperatures for human evolution over the past 500,000 to 2. 5 million years humans have evolved on Earth, thus, meaning we need to use a much longer time period than the highest CO2 concentrations during that record of 280 ppm. Instead, I think we should be taking an average temperature of that period, yes – over the past million or so years? The 240 ppm CO2 concentration number seems like a more accurate and appropriate baseline for modeling and estimating, yes? Again, your thoughts, please…

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      1. Whoops, you caught part of that yourself. But I still think I answered the main point here. The baseline you choose is essentially arbitrary, but it makes a lot more sense to discuss temperature increases over the period preceding our emissions than referencing a glacial temperature 20,000 years removed. The +2C target, for example, isn’t a magical temperature. It’s an expression of the rate and magnitude of change we can deal with*.

        (*”deal with” isn’t the best phrasing, but I think you know what I’m trying to say.)

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    2. “Pre-industrial CO2” doesn’t mean “everything that happened before the industrial revolution”, obviously. It specifically refers to the average state immediately preceding the industrial revolution. That is, it’s what we would expect today to be like if we hadn’t emitted loads of CO2. Broadly speaking, the interglacial periods of the last million years have been at about 280 ppm, while the glaciations have hit 180 ppm.

      Also remember that “doubling CO2”, when talking about climate sensitivity, is irrespective of initial concentration. The radiative forcing is logarithmic– the more CO2 you start with, the more you have to add to get the same effect. I don’t know exactly what range of CO2 concentrations this is valid over, but it covers the range we’re interested in.

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      1. You know, this idea that we don’t see the effects of co2 emissions until some 30 – 50 years later seems to me quite absurd. Sure, the stuff will take time floating up into the upper atmosphere, but my guess is that rain will wash most all of it back down to the ground (and oceans) the year it’s emitted leaving very little left in the air. So while the ground may become a little more acidic, I don’t see co2 surviving 50 years of storms. Sorry, just not realistic.

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      2. That’s not really how it works. Particulate matter, like the aerosols kicked up by volcanic eruptions, do indeed wash out of the atmosphere in relatively short order. But CO2 is a gas that mixes with the rest of the gas in the atmosphere, and exists in an equilibrium with carbon dioxide dissolved in the ocean. (That is, add more CO2 to one, and some will leak into the other.) CO2 comes out of the atmosphere by dissolving into ocean water, being incorporated into growing land plants (though it can come back out when they die and decay), being incorporated into photosynthetic marine organisms that die and sink to the bottom, and (on a longer time scale) the weathering of silicate rocks. CO2 actually has an incredibly long average lifetime in the atmosphere on the order of centuries. CO2 we emit now isn’t going to dissipate for a very, very long time.

        What was being referred to about a “delay” is that the climate system cannot fully respond to a higher greenhouse gas concentration immediately– the warming is mostly realized over several decades. That’s a process that folks here have been working to understand.

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      3. John,

        You must understand that your incredulity at some aspect of climate change doesn’t negate the work of thousands of scientists over decades. Please learn to consider their work. For a long time, I didn’t bother. Now I do and learned a lot.

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  16. A while back, Planet3.org ran a piece on methane, and the comment discussion turned to Shakhova et al. Andy Skuce was involved, and he noted:

    “The quantitative results of [Shakhova and Semiletov’s] ‘field experiments’ have gone publicly unreported since 2010, despite the fact that, from second-hand reports, S&S consider that their findings mandate urgent action.”

    Since Shakhova et al have kept publishing papers since 2010, I wasn’t really sure what this meant. Are the “quantitative results” the actual records of emissions from specific sites? Detailed maps showing pockmarks and taliks on the seafloor? Sonar maps? And what is the nature of their experiments?

    I asked about this over at Planet3 but got no answer (not surprised; it was an old thread), but I was hoping you might either know what they were talking about, or refer me to a place that did.

    For context – it was this thread, fifth comment: http://planet3.org/2013/07/26/what-is-the-deal-with-methane/

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    1. That comment was a while ago and I have forgotten the context (I really should have been more clear). Also, I have not been following this issue closely since then, so there are probably developments that I have missed.

      However, what I think I was saying was that I hadn’t seen much published by Shakhova since 2011. That may have been incorrect at the time and may well be wrong now. If so, please correct me and provide some links.

      The information that I would like to see is sampling or geophysical evidence for shallow hydrates on the ESAS, combined with isotopic analysis of the methane to type it as young/old, biogenic/thermogenic etc. There is also the question of whether the observed methane leaks (I don’t doubt the observations) are a recent thing or whether they represent some kind of steady-state process that has been going on since the start of the Holocene.

      My hunch is that the gas leaks on the ESAS are nothing to do with recently destabilized shallow gas hydrates and that the observed methane is shallow biogenic methane and/or deeply sourced thermogenic methane that has found its way through the permafrost. (There is evidence for this last mechanism further offshore on the ESAS. )

      The evidence for metastable, shallow gas hydrates existing anywhere is weak and there is no specific evidence for them at all in Eastern Siberia, or N America, for that matter. However, until there is more specific information made available, we will all be waving our arms about this.

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      1. I think this is the crux of the matter that those who keep citing Shakhova don’t seem to get. There is no physical evidence of metastable shallow hydrates. Nor is there much data on methane emissions from the Arctic stretching back some reasonable time period to determine if this is a new phenomenon or not. Indeed, I seem to recall searching for mention of hydrates in S&S’s most recent paper and couldn’t find one. So there may be cause for scientists like Wadhams and S&S to worry but the rest of us can’t seem to find a research basis for that worry.

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      2. will wrote:
        “as far as I know, her team has never done the kind of sampling and analysis you’re talking about.”

        SkepticalScience did a guest interview with Shakhova in 2012 for the ThinkProgress blog.

        SkS: Have you done any analyses/isotopic studies of the fugitive gas to see if anything can be learned about its provenance (i.e., biogenic, thermogenic, destabilized hydrate or a combination of these)?
        NS: Yes, we conducted an isotopic analysis to obtain the isotopic signature of the methane dissolved in the water column. The isotopic signature indicates a mixture of methane of different origins. We are currently making an effort to investigate particular sources.

        mikeroberts2013 wrote:
        “I think this is the crux of the matter that those who keep citing Shakhova don’t seem to get. There is no physical evidence of metastable shallow hydrates”

        What type of evidence are you expecting? They haven’t been able to drill deep enough to find unthawed permafrost—even in the coastal thermokarst lakes/lagoons
        which they purport to be 150-200 years old.

        But, it should have been stable within this depth, because near shore area, it’s very close to the coast, and duration of inundation is very short. It’s not thousands of years, it’s just 150, 200 years.

        Here is the quick-report of what they did this Spring on the ESAS:
        Methane and subsea permafrost studies in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf.
        PIs: I. Semiletov & N. Shakhova

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  17. Thanks SJ. I understand a little better now. Three questions come to mind though.

    First, co2, the stuff that comes out of the tail pipes of our cars etc, why is it even in a heavily polluted atmosphere like that over L.A., after a rain the skies are suddenly a clear beep blue? Doesn’t that indicate that the pollutants washed out? So then, how does the co2 remain in the air after not just one but decades of rain?

    Second, where in the atmosphere that co2 is ‘activated’, if I can use that word? I mean, it’s in the air for decades but doesn’t contribute to warming presumably for 30 – 50 years. Why is that? Is there a ‘sweet spot’ it needs to reach in the atmosphere before it begins to add to the warming? Why is that?

    Third, how does the co2 get into the ocean and acidify our forests unless it’s been washed out of the sky by rain?

    Thanks for your time SJ. I appreciate it.

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    1. I think I see where you were coming from. Smog (that clouds the skies over L.A. and Beijing) isn’t CO2, it’s a brew of reacting pollutants and particles. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smog To get a thick smog, you need more than just sources of pollution. You need stagnant air that sits rather than dispersing. L.A. has so much of it because it sits in a basin where the air often stagnates (until the right winds pick up).

      It’s that not CO2 has to be “activated” before it starts behaving as a greenhouse gas. It’s that the climate system is large and therefore sluggish. (Just as turning the stove on high doesn’t immediately bring a pot of water to a boil.) The amount of infrared radiation the CO2 is absorbing doesn’t change, but the temperature change that results from this takes a while to play out. It’s contributing to warming the whole time. In other words, if we stopped emitting CO2 today, the climate wouldn’t stop warming immediately because it’s still catching up.

      If you opened a valve between a container of low-pressure CO2 and a container of high-pressure CO2, gas would move from the high-pressure one into the low-pressure one to equalize, right? CO2 in the atmosphere and ocean is kind of like that. CO2 naturally dissolves into the shallow ocean from the atmosphere, just as oxygen does. If you raise the concentration in the atmosphere, more moves into the ocean to equalize again.

      The acid rain that endangered forests wasn’t the product of CO2, it was the product of sulfur pollution (producing sulfuric acid in rainwater). Legislation successfully encouraged the installation of certain filters that remove sulfur from the smokestacks of coal-fired power plants and the like, and this problem has greatly abated. You’re right to assume that CO2 produces acid (carbonic acid) in rainwater, as well. Natural rainwater isn’t neutral, it has a pH around 5.5 because of this. That changes a bit with rising atmospheric CO2, but isn’t much of a problem. The sulfuric acid was far stronger.

      Like

  18. Dear Scott,

    If there was an indication of dangerous methane emissions in the arctic, what would you expect to see? What level would indicate an “emergency”? Anything? Can you give me a number, something definite, a red line we shouldn’t cross?

    Thanks!

    Like

    1. “Emergency” is qualitative, so it’s hard to derive a red line. You would expect to see a sharp increase in emissions up there with a resulting sharp increase in the global atmospheric concentration. It’s that trajectory you’d be eyeing, along with your knowledge about what’s causing it and whether it’s likely to continue similarly.

      Like

      1. Thanks SJ. I had no idea that CO2 isn’t the brown haze I see over L.A. I always thought when I heard about CO2, that’s what scientists were referring too. The brown stuff. So where does CO2 come from? I know we’re making a lot of it, is it a gas that’s emitted along with sulfur dioxide? Two separate gases? The sulfur washes out after a storm but CO2 just keeps rising?

        That brings up another thought. I’ve heard some climate scientists talking about putting sulfur into the air to try to increase the reflectivity of the clouds I think it was and reflect the sun’s energy back out into space because supposedly the arctic is melting and with it, the reflectivity of the lost ice.

        If sulfur from human sources is creating a problem environmentally, how would putting more (a lot more from what I heard) into the atmosphere help? Maybe it would temporarily reflect a little sunlight, but isn’t it also going to create more problems with things like acid rain and air pollution? Is that a good solution? Or am I missing something?

        McPherson says a couple of days after the end of industrial civilization, the earth will become a couple of degrees warmer. He says, as you probably well know, that that would be because the sulfur in the air will have dropped out of the atmosphere. I thought the sulfur in the air (and CO2) was what was causing the warming in the first place. Is it CO2 that’s causing warming, and the brown stuff is just an unhealthy annoyance? If he’s right about that, then it sounds like we need to maintain sulfur in the atmosphere to keep the earth cooler. You see how people can be confused by it all?

        Like

      2. Good questions. This stuff can definitely be confusing, which is why it doesn’t help to have people spreading nonsense out there. I don’t remember if I’ve suggested this program to you yet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RyvpsIx47E I can’t remember if it touches on the other pollutants you’re asking about here, but it’s a great primer.

        A number of compounds are produced when you burn fossil fuels. Some result from burning impurities, like sulfur dioxide, but CO2 is a primary product of combustion. The process that generates all that useful energy is the combustion of hydrocarbons– chains mostly composed of carbons and hydrogens, which combine with oxygen. Afterwards, you end up with CO2 (and some carbon monoxide) and water. Sulfur dioxide likes to react with other things in the atmosphere, while CO2 does not.

        You’re right that the potential to purposely produce SO2 to cool the planet has been studied. The idea would actually be to inject it up in the stratosphere, not in the lower atmosphere. It does form “aerosol” particles that reflect sunlight. But yes, it will still filter down. I don’t think the amounts you need up there are sufficient to cause much acidification of rain, but there would certainly be health impacts. I don’t think anyone would call it a “good solution”– it’s talked about as a sort of last resort to buy us some time. It’s fraught with all kinds of issues, and it does nothing for ocean acidification. The researchers studying it (I think rightly) take the position that we’d better understand how it would work in case the day comes that we have no better options.

        SO2 is not a greenhouse gas- its influence is a cooling one. This is why large volcanic eruptions tend to cool the climate for a couple years. (They emit a fair amount of it.) SO2 and other pollutants that reflect sunlight are actually covering up some of the greenhouse gas we’ve emitted. And yes, they don’t last very long in the atmosphere (I’m sure you’ll be shocked to learn that McPherson exaggerates the details a bit) so there is a sort of ripping off of the band-aid we would go through when ending the use of fossil fuels. There’s some more greenhouse warming already in the pipeline we would experience when we clean other pollutants out of the atmosphere. All the more reason to stop chucking even more CO2 up there…

        Like

      3. I’m not sure that McPherson still talks about the earth warming that quickly but the notion comes from another bit of sloppy work by him. After 9/11, planes were grounded for a few days and the skies were clear of contrails. Some scientists took the opportunity to measure the impact and found that the diurnal temperature range (difference between high and low temps) increase about a degree centigrade. For a long while, McPherson hoked onto that and presented it as the earth’s temperature increased by a degree. I believe he eventually admitted that he was wrong (though I don’t think he admits such things directly) but it’s possible he still presents the data in this way. He’s prone to doing that (like his misrepresentation of the “the 40 year lag”).

        So the earth’s temperature won’t increase by a degree two days after industrial civilization comes to an end, even if it were possible for it to come to an end instantaneously on a single day (it’s not). The lack of aerosols that reflect heat will certainly have a detrimental impact (they are thought to roughly cancel the heating effect of the non-CO2 greenhouse gases, including methane) in terms of accelerating warming but it isn’t going to be as quick as GM pretends.

        Like

      4. “The lack of aerosols that reflect heat will certainly have a detrimental impact (they are thought to roughly cancel the heating effect of the non-CO2 greenhouse gases, including methane) in terms of accelerating warming but it isn’t going to be as quick as GM pretends.”

        So, to ask a completely unrealistic hypothetical: if methane, N2O, ozone, etc. all plummeted to pre-industrial levels, and aerosols vanished at the exact same time, the global mean temperature would stay roughly the same?

        Like

      5. I think there would be a large uptick in the forcing, for a bit less than a decade, as methane is much more powerful a GHG than carbon dioxide, especially over the short term. But it has a lifetime of only 10-15 years, degrading to CO2. So there would probably be a measurable increase in warming (if we could still measure it), but the extra forcing would decrease over a decade to being slightly more than the CO2 forcing was at the time of cessation of the emissions. I’m not sure about the other GHGs, which are a far smaller concentration than even methane but are much more efficient at trapping heat.

        That’s my take, anyway.

        Like

  19. Who writes the quick synopses of new research articles for phys.org? Seems like more hearsay than actual reporting.

    The researchers note that their measurements contradict predictions by others that a massive “pulse” of methane will very soon add as much as 50 billion tonnes of methane to the atmosphere, causing a dramatic spike in global air temperatures.

    No, the present lead author is the same as the one making the dire “prediction”. Although this, too, is incorrectly reported, since Shakhova terms the methane pulse as a likelihood, not a certainty.

    Instead, they suggest, it appears more likely that the methane will continue to bubble up slowly, contributing to greenhouse gases much as is happening currently—though they do caution that its possible global warming could cause more or bigger storms in the Arctic Ocean, releasing methane on a bigger scale.

    This is, roughly, the more common view—not the view of Shakhova.

    The researchers have been seeing record levels of methane in the both [sic] seawater and permafrost core samples they’ve been collecting over the past several years

    Again, incorrect. They have not found any methane in the core samples because they have only found thawed or patially thawed sediment, from which the methane hydrates would have presumably already escaped.

    Like

    1. PhysOrg usually just publishes press releases from universities, etc., as does ScienceDaily. Although in this case, it seems they actually did have someone write it… (I’ve never seen that before.)

      I agree that write-up is completely atrocious and self-contradictory.

      Like

      1. Thanks SJ. I think I’m finally starting to see what it is you’re saying.

        Another question, but a big one. What do you think the future holds if we continue along the same path we have been? And when do you see it happening? It seems the general consensus is that things will become difficult one day. The question is, when? It seems that scientists have moved the date backwards from about 2100 to 2040, thereabouts. What do you think?

        Will climate change cause the collapse of civilization and if so, when?

        Sorry, I know that’s a big question but I suppose that’s the big question on people’s minds these days.

        Like

      2. Mike, you said in your post,

        “He’s prone to doing that (like his misrepresentation of the “the 40 year lag”).”

        Could you explain what you mean by McPherson misrepresenting the 40 year lag? Do you mean there is no lag time or it’s not a big deal?

        Like

      3. I think the “lag” is a misnomer. There is a Skeptical Science article that sort of explains it but I think often uses the wrong phrasing. The article references a paper by Hansen which states that 60% of the warming effect of CO2 occurs within the first 25 to 50 years. The article’s author has used an average time period and then rounds it to 40 years. He mentions the delay between cause and effect when the Hansen paper doesn’t talk about a delay, just how long it takes for the climate to respond fully.

        So CO2 in the atmosphere has an effect immediately and, according to Hansen, it’s actually quite rapid at first and then tails off, taking centuries to play out fully. There is no lag, as such, but there is more warming to come from CO2 released 40 years ago. McPherson, I think, knows this, but represents it in his talks as there being no warming from CO2 released in the last 39 years, yet, playing on the idea that there is a huge amount of warming to come, given that we’ve released so much CO2 in the last 40 years, and seen none of the warming. This is incorrect. The properties of CO2 do not go into cold storage for 40 years before they emerge; CO2 starts to warm the atmosphere immediately, because it increases the energy imbalance, though ocean inertia (and other factors) slows the rate of warming from what it would otherwise be.

        Like

      4. The future holds what climate scientists have been telling us it holds for more than two decades now. We fill in some details, we understand interactions and societal impacts a little better, but the big picture hasn’t changed. It’s bad, it’s dangerous, and it’s expensive, and it gets worse the longer we let this go on. There is no date when things stop becoming negative. We are already experiencing impacts, and those will increase as we move forward.

        I don’t actually like this question about whether civilization collapses, as I think it’s unanswerable and any attempt to predict such a thing is purely opinion. I’m more concerned about species extinctions, agricultural impacts, water resources, hardships for the poorest people, infrastructure costs, conflicts… We’ve long been mortgaging the future to pay for the present, and eventually you have to take that seriously.

        Like

    1. As always, I don’t have access to the full papers, but a few questions about the second paper.

      1. “Combining these data with a three-dimensional thermal model shows that the observed gas hydrate stability zone is too deep by 100 to 250 m.” What does this mean, exactly? That human estimations of the stability zone have put that zone too deep, or that it’s deeper than previously estimated?
      2. “Even in the absence of additional ocean warming, 0.44 to 2.2 Gt of methane could be released from re-equilibrating gas hydrates into the sediments underlying an area of ~5-7.5×103 km2 on the U.S. Beaufort Sea upper slope during the next century.” Is this an estimate for the next 100 years, or an estimate of emissions during the 22nd Century?

      And about both these papers: IPCC WGI AR5 (if there’s a 6th assessment, they need snappier report titles) had this to say about hydrates:

      “6.4.7.3 Future CH4 Hydrate Emissions Substantial quantities of methane are believed to be stored within submarine hydrate deposits at continental margins (see also Section 6.1, FAQ 6.2). There is concern that warming of overlying waters may melt these deposits, releasing CH4 into the ocean and atmosphere systems.

      Considering a potential warming of bottom waters by 1, 3 and 5 K during the next 100 years, Reagan and Moridis (2007) found that hydrates residing in a typical deep ocean setting (4°C and 1000 m depth) would be stable and in shallow low-latitude settings (6°C and 560 m) any sea-floor CH4 fluxes would be oxidized within the sediments. Only in cold-shallow Arctic settings (0.4°C and 320 m) would CH4 fluxes exceed rates of benthic sediment oxidation. Simulations of heat penetration through the sediment by Fyke and Weaver (2006) suggest that changes in the gas hydrate stability zone will be small on century timescales except in high-latitude regions of shallow ocean shelves. In the longer term, Archer et al. (2009a) estimated that between 35 and 940 PgC could be released over several thousand years in the future following a 3 K seafloor warming.”

      Do the regions discussed in your two papers fall under that “high-latitude regions of shallow ocean shelves” heading?

      Like

      1. 1- It means that there are no hydrates at the shallowest depths the model expected them to be at in this location.

        2- That would be an estimate for the next 100 years.

        No! There must be longer and more-complex acronyms! Keystrokes are at a premium!

        The second (Beaufort) paper should fall under that category, but the first (Cascadia) would not.

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      2. Mike, I got it now. Thanks for clearing that up. I would think most anyone would wonder why CO2 suddenly switches on 40 years after they were emitted. You’re right, that makes it sound like each and every day there’s a huge slam of CO2 from approx 40 years ago from each day. Rather than a gradual buildup. So while CO2 is building up because we keep putting more and more of it into the atmosphere (that’s not going to stop), it’s a slow build. Thanks for your time Mike.

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      3. 1- It means that there are no hydrates at the shallowest depths
        the model expected them to be at in this location.

        Any knowledgeable discussion of that would be welcome. I can see speculation running off in all directions from that tidbit of fact. So I won’t.

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      4. Cascadia would be considered a mid-latitude shallow shelf then?

        And is the Beaufort region close enough in character to, say, the ESAS that this study could offer reasonable assumptions on how shallow Siberian hydrates can exist at, how much could be released over certain times scales, etc.?

        Like

      5. Right-o.

        You can’t necessarily generalize from Beaufort to other areas of the Arctic. The Beaufort shelf isn’t very broad, for one, and the local details of ocean currents are going to determine the warming.

        Like

      6. Well, to get near Hank’s question – could the findings about the depths at which hydrates start to show up have any applications outside Beaufort?

        Like

      7. Will wrote:
        “Well, to get near Hank’s question – could the findings about the depths at which hydrates start to show up have any applications outside Beaufort?”

        As Shakhova notes, shelves and slopes are incredibly complex structures incorporating equally complex processes. And like land ice and sea ice before them, the models thereof have a lot to learn. I think as much can be generalized. From what I’ve seen, I don’t think you can even say that ice models have contributed much to our understanding, so far, other than showing how little we know. Wadhams is unrepentant and sticking to his simple extrapolations (bumping up his prediction to 2020).

        Like

      8. Wadhams is unrepentant and sticking to his simple extrapolations (bumping up his prediction to 2020).

        So Wadhams has changed his prediction of a sea ice free Arctic to 2020, from 2015? If so, then isn’t that an admission that simple extrapolation was wrong? How does he explain the change?

        Like

      9. bill shockley wrote:
        “Wadhams is unrepentant and sticking to his simple extrapolations (bumping up his prediction to 2020).”

        mikeroberts wrote:
        “So Wadhams has changed his prediction of a sea ice free Arctic to 2020, from 2015? If so, then isn’t that an admission that simple extrapolation was wrong? How does he explain the change?”

        What was there that was better than his simple extrapolation, when he was making his original prediction? If it turns out to be 2020, was he very wrong? Was he much, much righter than the models? And in the right direction? i.e., which way do you want to err—on the side of saving the Earth or on the side of losing the Earth?

        So, there’s the answer to your question as stated. If you were to ask “doesn’t that mean that simple extrapolation is wrong now, at the present time, considering the new data of the last two years?” I would be more inclined to agree. But just a little. Nobody has come out and said, there is THIS negative feedback that you are ignoring. Nobody has identified a significant countervailing process. It’s only that the data suggest there MIGHT be one. Something nobody has identified yet. My pet theory is that, as Jennifer Francis has postulated, the distortion of the jet stream is promoting the migration of warm, wet air from lower latitudes, up into the arctic. This, combined with warmer sea surface temperatures will make for cloudier skies in the arctic in the springtime. Rate of ice loss is highly correlated with melt-pond formation in the Spring, so if this process is obstructed, the rate of ice loss could slow down. Of course, this is my speculation and therefore totally naiive and quite probably incorrect.

        But ANY objection is based on two years of new data. The use of simple extrapolation was based on 33 years of data prior to that plus the fact that there was no better option. And really, the choice now is between 2020, 2025 and 2030. In the grand scheme, it’s pedantic. And we have the ice thickness data, courtesy, to a large extent, of Wadhams, to thank, for having this clear picture.
        http://www.adn.com/article/20141102/expert-predicts-ice-free-arctic-2020-un-releases-climate-report

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      10. I agree that the difference between sea-ice free in 2 years and sea-ice free in 14 years is immaterial and we should err on the side of caution. However, we’re not doing that now with a 97% concensus about the basics. We don’t have 97% concensus on when a sea-ice free Arctic will occur, so I think you should give up any hope that Wadhams’s extrapolated date will spur action.

        Like

      11. Down in the comments below the level allowing reply, Bill Shockley wrote:
        “we have the ice thickness data”

        Where is that data? I’ve wondered whether Wadhams and Maslowski have (from the UK and US Navies, respectively) any data more than what others publishing on the subject have — are they coming to their shorter estimates from the same data?

        I recall http://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2013/dec/09/us-navy-arctic-sea-ice-2016-melt
        although I don’t consider that a source, and haven’t read whatever he read to write that story.

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      12. Wadhams has worked on building the database of thickness measurements. His extrapolation claims have been based on the PIOMAS volume estimates.

        We’ve had plenty of run-ins with Nafeez Ahmed’s blogging before around here… Maslowski’s 2016 date came from some extrapolation exercises in this paper. (PDF here.) The sea ice model Ahmed describes had nothing to do with it.

        Like

      13. Hank Roberts wrote:
        “Where is that data? I’ve wondered whether Wadhams and Maslowski have (from the UK and US Navies, respectively) any data more than what others publishing on the subject have — are they coming to their shorter estimates from the same data?”

        It’s not that some have thickness data and others don’t, or that the thickness data varies significantly from one data set to another. Wadhams hammers the point about thickness data because the modelers, in his opinion, ignored it, relying instead on extent or area data, missing an entire dimension of the sea ice dynamic. The volume curve is much more dramatically accelerating than the area line/curve. Over the period from 1979 to 2012, ice area diminished by 40 or 50% while volume diminished by 80%. It’s a much steeper, accelerating decline.

        Here is an historical perspective on Wadhams’ sea ice views. His 2011 comment reiterates his “problem” with the modelers:

        While the IPCC suggests the ice will remain in place until the 2030s, Dr Maslowski’s study also takes into account the rate at which it is thinning and calculates that it will vanish much more quickly.
        https://fractalplanet.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/how-guy-mcpherson-gets-it-wrong/comment-page-3/#comment-804

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  20. Well SJ, that’s not the most encouraging assessment I’ve ever read but at least I know you’re honest. I was hoping you were going to say not to worry too much, things will iron themselves out and all that.

    I’m guessing the differences between your thoughts about the future and Guy’s is his penchant for sticking a date on his predictions. Not to mention his tendency to quote anything he happens to come across that favors his opinions about climate change (on a window washers blog in Guatemala) as a reliable source.

    From what I gather, it’s the old, ‘Petal by petal the flower is plucked.’ Death by a thousand cuts and all that. Still and all, my inclination is this is something destined for the far future, a century or so from now. Who knows? We’ll feel some effects, you know over the decades, here and there, but, just guessing, it’s going to take much much longer than McPherson suggests.

    That should buy us enough time to come up with something. We’ll see.

    Like

    1. Well, really, the difference between me and Guy is that I let the climate scientists tell me what to think, while he is actively constructing a narrative that goes far beyond that. (On a very related note, I believe that several years ago he predicted peak oil within a couple years, and he recently predicted that civilization in the US would collapse in something like 8 years. There’s more than just a twisting of climate science behind his claims.)

      Like

    2. john wrote:
      “Still and all, my inclination is this is something destined for the far future, a century or so from now. Who knows? We’ll feel some effects, you know over the decades, here and there, but, just guessing, it’s going to take much much longer than McPherson suggests.”

      The truth is much closer to what GM says than what you wrote above, unless urgent measures are taken quickly. This is the consensus among the serious, most famous, most credible, climate scientists. Hansen, Mann, Francis. (Not to mention the Ocean scientists — Jeremy Jackson, Sylvia Earle, for example).

      Like

    3. Hope this isn’t too off-topic. The initiating issue is energy, after all—that thing the State Dept. called,“a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history” referring, in 1945, to the oil reserves of the Middle East.

      World ominously close to nuclear war – Noam Chomsky to RT
      Published time: November 07, 2014 00:15 Get short URL

      The world has come ominously close to a nuclear war in the past and it could happen again as Russia and the West have slipped back into what seems like another Cold War, world-renowned scholar Noam Chomsky tells RT’s Sophie&Co.

      Once NATO has expanded its borders all the way to reach Russia, its mission has very much changed since it was initially established, Chomsky said. Now, its aim is to take control of global energy systems rather than maintaining intergovernmental military balance.

      The world has never been closer to a nuclear war that could wipe out all of its initiators, and the threat is no longer a thing of history, according to Chomsky.

      “The worst-case scenario, of course, would be a nuclear war, which would be terrible. Both states that initiate it will be wiped out by the consequences. That’s the worst-case. And it’s come ominously close several times in the past, dramatically close. And it could happen again, but not planned, but just by the accidental interactions that take place – that has almost happened,” Chomsky told Sophie Shevardnadze.

      The overall situation of international instability was worsened by US involvement in the Middle Eastern affairs and damaging regional conflicts, Chomsky says, comparing its actions in Iraq to a hit with a “sledgehammer.”

      Chomsky went on to discuss with RT the former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden, and the US’ ever-expanding global spying that are having a dangerous impact on the domestic population and is inspiring other governments worldwide to do the same.

      Like

      1. Bill,

        I just don’t get the human desire to self destruct. Literally, it’s like people have a huge, collective suicide wish. I mean that quite literally. We’re too smart technologically for our own good. Technology is the tool, human aggression is the driving force. Who would give a gun to a mad man, but that’s where we’re at in spades. When entities exists, nations bragging about their ability to wipe life from the planet, who view each other as competitors for scarce resources and therefore enemies, time is all we have. Climate change will probably be yet another human caused problem one day, but our selfish, greedy and mean spirited, cavalier attitude towards life in general will do us in. We’re living in a ‘sweet spot’ in history right now, where we’re just holding our collective breaths and waiting, day to day, to see what’s going to happen next. You can smell it.

        Like

      2. john wrote:
        “… We’re living in a ‘sweet spot’ in history right now, where we’re just holding our collective breaths and waiting, day to day, to see what’s going to happen next. You can smell it.”

        I agree, totally. As Freud and Nietzsche and undoubtedly countless others said, “we’re too civilized”. We create a distance between ourselves and nature. We lose sensibilities, perspective, balance. It’s the disease of civilization. Concentration of power. Concentration of wealth. There’s great discussion of this over on the Nature Bats Last forums. I look at the remarks there and think, what would people be saying if it was the eve of destruction and they knew it?

        But wouldn’t it be great if we could meet the predicament and overcome it? The only way you know if it’s possible is by trying. Goethe said that.

        The long version of Chomsky’s RT interview is here:
        Youtube: Naom Chomsky: NATO became a US-run intervention force

        As usual, it’s a history lesson +

        Like

      3. Bill, I agree with your thoughts as well. I’m guessing if you asked just about anyone you met just about anywhere you went in the world, upon contemplation, most would agree that the muss we’ve made of this planet isn’t the best of all possible worlds. Kinda really. We’re sick but there’s no workable cure. It’ll iron itself out one day, don’t know what the place will look like after that. But yeah.

        Like

  21. TRACKING THE DECOMPOSITION OF SUBMARINE PERMAFROST AND GAS
    HYDRATE UNDER THE SHELF AND SLOPE OF THE BEAUFORT SEA

    This paper has some great detail on the lithostructures and features of the arctic sea shelves and slopes, including the conceptual graphic below, and also descriptions of processes and photos of the sea floor done with the aid of a remotely operated vehicle. It’s a recent paper, published Feb. 2014.


    Figure 1 Schematic cross section of the Arctic Continental Shelf and Slope outlining subsurface zones where permafrost (purple), permafrost with gas hydrate (pink), and gas hydrate (orange) occur in the late Pleistocene (A) and at present after transgression (B). Note that the areas of permafrost and gas hydrate are less in B. Areas where permafrost (cross hatch) and gas hydrate (dots) have decomposed are indicated.

    Like

  22. Just came across this video from May 2013.
    Youtube: The Scientific Case for Urgent Action to Limit Climate Change

    It’s a presentation by a Scripps Institute scientist, Richard Somerville, who is also a bigwig at the IPCC. He impresses as a very good scientist, sincere in his endeavor, and yet, is dooming us all to disaster by adopting the global consensus goal of keeping temperature rise less than 2C.

    He explains things well—seems like he is well practiced at it. He shows this slide, which I believe is taken from the 2007 IPCC report, which shows how steeply we will have to reduce emissions depending on when we start:


    He notes that the red curve, which begins declining in 2020, requires a rate of reduction which economists consider nearly impossible. Of course, he didn’t mention the word “carbon tax”, so maybe it wouldn’t be so hard under such an optimal regime, i.e., Progressive Fee & Dividend. OTOH, it makes one wonder how realistic a goal it would be to stay below 1C? Hansen still thinks it possible.

    Youtube: James Hansen, Fesitival of Conscience October 9 2014

    Anyway, I recommend the Somerville as a good introduction to the science of climate change. But, if you really want some good science and history, including the controversies, conspiracies and wars, I really like this one:

    Youtube: Earth The Climate Wars – Episode 1

    which is the first of a 3-part series.
    From 2011, presented by Iian Stewart.

    Like

  23. SJ,

    I’ve been reading that climate scientists these days are saying that, with more careful modelling, it turns out that methane in the arctic isn’t going anywhere, despite Shakhova. That there’s a lot more than just water between the methane and the atmosphere before the methane can ‘dissociate’. Estimates are now that it will be stable for at least hundreds but more likely thousands of years. That’s one more we can scratch off the list.

    Actually, from what I’ve heard, more careful use of modelling is demonstrating that a lot of the climate woes we’ve been worried about are not the problems we’d been making them out to be. One scientist, I can’t remember his name, seemed to be saying that except for ice melting and subsequent sea level rise, we’re not in bad shape. And the sea level rise may top out at about 1 foot by 2100. If all this is right, we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief.

    Like

    1. As we’ve been talking about here, the imminent-methane-catastrophe claims of the Guy McPhersons of the world have never matched the research. I still don’t know exactly what it is that Shakhova wants to argue for, but they’ve got some work to do to back it up. We will certainly learn things from their work up there.

      I don’t know where you heard this claim about not being in bad shape, but it’s nonsense. Sea level rise will be in the neighborhood of a meter by 2100 if we don’t cut emissions. And nobody- not a one- thinks that 4C warming and ocean acidification is fine. So I don’t know where you’ve gotten the impression that worries have turned out to be unfounded– unless it’s from the know-nothing “skeptics” who often get themselves on TV to talk about how all the scientists are wrong…

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    2. John – out of curiosity, is what you’ve been reading on methane very recent, or is it from a few years ago? It sounds as if you’re describing that 2011 paper co-authored by Carolyn Ruppel.

      Like

  24. In case anyone’s interested, the PLOS | one site is where Hansen’s “IPCC” report is published. On that page you can also find a link to media and blog coverage of the paper. Among these, I found the PLOS Q/A with Hansen and the Quartz article good reading.

    I should correct what I said earlier—the paper is not 200 pages, it’s only 26 pages and a fairly quick read (I say, having not finished it yet—lots of pictures, anyway). It attempts to be comprehensive and persuasive. It is intended as a framework to argue before judges, to force governments to fulfill their sworn duties to the people who entrusted them with their jobs.

    I believe the revelation about the West Antarctica ice sheet becoming unstable post-dates the release of Hansen’s paper and the interview with the PLOS staffer, so Hansen once again, sadly, comes up prescient.

    The PLOS interview also brings home the large dependence on Nuclear that Hansen sees as necessary. He has made the point a few times in his youtube videos that it was the environmentalists who put the brakes on Nuclear research and development, and who are therefore now, in a way, partly responsible for our predicament.

    The Quartz article takes the time to look closely at Hansen’s paper and gives good—appropriately—radical perspective. This graphic from the article, called the “wheelchair curve” is fairly close to Hansen’s perspective:

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    1. SJ,

      I’ve been interested in this subject for some years now and have been following it rather closely. Seeing as how the topic concerns the possible extinction of life on our planet, I’m fairly surprised more people aren’t interested. But what the hey. I’m not a scientist, you are and I respect that and freely acknowledge that you know more about climate issues than I do. But I do try to be fair (as I believe you do), so, unlike some in the media these days, I don’t censor one side of the issue in favor of the other. I look at both sides and try to balance it out as best I can.

      I know there are unscrupulous people on the denier side of the argument. People who genuinely couldn’t give a rats ass if we waste this planet as long as they score a few billion along the way and I know that some of them are pulling the strings of the Heartland Institute or whatever it is they’ve named themselves, the so-called Nongovernemental International Panal on Climate Change. But I think there may be a few on the other side as well.

      Is it a coincidence that after a few scientists expressed frustration at the public about their lack of interest in climate change, saying the year 2100 was a date just too distant in their minds to be of concern, the dates 2040 and even 2030 and terms like ‘mid-century tipping point(s)’ started being thrown around? In all respect to the majority in the scientific community, I don’t know but it smacks of bs to me. If I’m wrong, I’ll be the first to say so.

      When I think of how many other real issues we face that are far more relevant to the world today, issues like not blowing ourselves up in yet another war in our ceaseless efforts to control one corner or another of this pale blue dot, as Carl Sagan dubbed it, when I think of the millions of homeless around the world that, let’s face it, no one really cares about, the number of people who are starving around the world even as we type and on and on, I have difficulty imagining spending billions on an issue many scientists say is far from certain. But hey, that’s just me.

      I suppose if the climate does indeed turn a sustained shade of nasty, if it does worsen as the years go by, if the arctic does melt and our atmosphere starts to resemble something more akin to one of the gas giants, hey, I’ll get in line. Until then, I reserve the right to be skeptical.

      Like

      1. But I do try to be fair (as I believe you do), so, unlike some in the media these days, I don’t censor one side of the issue in favor of the other. I look at both sides and try to balance it out as best I can.

        So, there’s the problem of the false middle here. Or, as expressed by Okrent’s Law, “the pursuit of balance can create imbalance, because sometimes something is true”. On one “side”, we have nearly every climate scientist, and all the research. On the other “side”, we do have a couple gadfly scientists (as you could dig up for any topic ever), and a bunch of untrustworthy partisans, as you noted. While it’s understandable given the difficulty of figuring out who’s right, the shortcut of deciding the truth must be somewhere in between gets you into trouble. Do you take the same shortcut on the question of whether cigarettes increase the risk of cancer? You probably side with the world’s doctors and researchers.

        Is it a coincidence that after a few scientists expressed frustration at the public about their lack of interest in climate change, saying the year 2100 was a date just too distant in their minds to be of concern, the dates 2040 and even 2030 and terms like ‘mid-century tipping point(s)’ started being thrown around?

        I’m not even sure what this refers to. There’s so much science relating to what we can expect this century, and it’s so complicated… this sort of simplistic “they said x and y” doesn’t map to it.

        I have difficulty imagining spending billions on an issue many scientists say is far from certain.

        Yeah, we have lots of problems to deal with. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t deal with each. And you’re simply wrong when you state “many scientists say is far from certain”. No, they don’t. This has been settled for a long time. Try taking a look at the IPCC report, and listening to how many of our problems combine: http://arstechnica.com/science/2014/03/ipcc-report-on-climate-impacts-and-adaptation-released/ , http://arstechnica.com/science/2014/04/why-climate-change-hits-the-worlds-poor-harder/

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      2. John, I think you need to remember that the date of 2100 is just a stake in the ground. It doesn’t all magically happen in that year. The earth is warming now, the oceans are acidifying now and the impacts are already happening. According to Michael Mann, what politicians agree is a danger threshold, 2C warming, will be reached by 2036 (2046 if ECS is half a degree lower). That’s only 22 years away and it won’t be pleasant long before that. So don’t think this is a problem for the future. For many people, the future is here now and more will experience the future every year from now on.

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    2. Bill,

      Not just Hansen but James Lovelock as well. To them, going nuclear is the bees knees. I see that as a problem. It’s difficult to believe that we can have an incident like Fukushima and still no one cares that we’re blowing through radioactive waste, some of it with a half life of billions years (for uranium 238 for instance), like Beijing is blowing through oxygen. Does it make sense to nurture an industry whose basic by-product is lethal and that anyone would freely admit will far outlast us on a scale of billions of years when we don’t even know where to put it? But there it is. We fouled the gulf of Mexico and it remains fouled to this day, a vast sewer of death and yet those same people plan to move into the pristine waters of the Arctic and give the Earth another redo. Make sense?

      What’s the answer? I wish I knew. Nuclear isn’t it.

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    3. Sadly, Hansen doesn’t take into account what might happen if the nuclear option doesn’t save the day (or the nuclear option combined with other actions doesn’t save the day). If warming still reaches levels where drought and floods wreak even more havoc than they are already doing, then I would expect many societies to become unstable (all complex societies do, anyway). Since many of those will be nuclear societies (since a massive nuclear build out is part of Hansen’s “solution”), then the cure could become worse than the disease.

      No, nuclear is not a sensible option.

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      1. I have to say, I just don’t get this. Why the expectation that societies collapse overnight, and the folks running nuke plants either run for the hills or become raving lunatics instantaneously, failing to even initiate shutdown procedures on the way out the door? That just doesn’t seem realistic to me.

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      2. Scott,

        I’m not saying that complex societies collapse instantly but that they become unstable. if there are, let’s say, tens or hundreds of nuclear reactors in such a society, is that a good situation or a bad situation? Initiating shutdown might be done, or not, at the point where it needs to be but then what? Will those nuclear reactors be carefully decommissioned over the following few decades and the waste material managed for centuries to millennia? If you can honestly say “yes” to those questions, then I think you’re sadly deluded. The thing is, I never see the possibility of its not working as part of the argument for a nuclear buildout tactic.

        Bill says it’s best to try and fail than to do nothing and fail. Well, yes, I’d agree except that we could probably do an awful lot without building nuclear plants. My take is that “we” will probably fail (after all, humans are what they are and we’ve seen very little evidence that they can collectively act in a different way) so why make the future even worse than it already is? Advocating nuclear as part of the “solution” assumes that everything about the buildout (e.g. safety features) and its impact will go smoothly and as planned. That is almost certain to not be the case – humans aren’t perfect and we can’t account for every eventuality, everywhere.

        Rapid and, hopefully, planned energy descent is really the only sensible approach, as far as I can see, coupled with very different ways of growing our food and giving nature a change to restore itself. I know, I know, that isn’t going to happen. So take from that what you will.

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      3. sj wrote:
        “I have to say, I just don’t get this. Why the expectation that societies collapse overnight, and the folks running nuke plants either run for the hills or become raving lunatics instantaneously, failing to even initiate shutdown procedures on the way out the door? That just doesn’t seem realistic to me.”

        Despite this idea having been popularized by GM, I don’t believe it’s controversial. It is supposed to take several decades and lots of resources to decommission a present-day nuclear plant (not so with next-generation plants) and make them flood, etc. -proof, i.e., it’s not just a matter of remembering to hit the lights going out the door.

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    4. john wrote:
      “It’s difficult to believe that we can have an incident like Fukushima and still no one cares that we’re blowing through radioactive waste, some of it with a half life of billions years (for uranium 238 for instance), like Beijing is blowing through oxygen”

      Hansen cites France as a country that has done Nuclear right. I believe they are incident-free (I may be wrong about this) and get a very large portion of their electrical energy from nuclear. They also accomplished this in a short period of time.

      In one decade (1977–1987), France increased its nuclear power production 15-fold, with the nuclear portion of its electricity increasing from 8% to 70%

      There is a 4th generation of nuclear technology that is on its way that won’t have the waste problem, since it utilizes nearly all the nuclear substrate in producing energy, versus what we have now that utilizes a tiny fraction. Also, the 4th-gen technology is supposed to be able to burn nuclear waste, so there is the solution, also, to the waste we will produce and the waste we have already produced. I don’t know when the new technology is supposed to be ready.

      However, the long-term future of nuclear power will employ ‘‘fast’’
      reactors, which utilize 99% of the nuclear fuel and can ‘‘burn’’
      nuclear waste and excess weapons material

      He also points out that, in the US at least, nuclear has a much better health and fatality record than fossil fuels, by orders of magnitude. I would add that the two mega disasters, Chernobyl and Fukushima were, extremely early-phase nuclear and old-technology/risk-oblivious incarnations, respectively.

      Another problem with nuclear that he doesn’t address is one that I think Heinberg would bring up. Density and cheapness of fuel is what has brought us to our present unsustainable population. Nuclear would be like pouring gasoline on that fire. But, if we are able to come together to defeat the warming problem, we will probably have the capability to also control and reduce population to sustainable levels. Over time, renewable energy will also get cheaper and will probably eventually be able to phase out nuclear.

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      1. “Over time, renewable energy will also get cheaper and will probably eventually be able to phase out nuclear.”

        I should also point out that buildout time for renewables is the reason we need nuclear now—not the price—since they are already competitive with fossil fuels in a large portion of the world, even without the added factor of a carbon tax (fair price). The obstruction now is infrastructure—manufacturing base, etc. It would simply take too long to get to the needed level of fossil fuel replacement.

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      2. France is not incident free. Last time I looked (a few years ago), they had quite a high rate of incidents (more than one per day, as I recall). The severity is almost always low (with a few rare exceptions) but it’s only a matter of time, right? And with a massive build-out of nuclear capability across the globe in many and varied societies, the likelihood of an incident rises, right? That’s just statistics. So if this “solution” is taken seriously and acted on, expect serious incidents to occur more often.

        And i keep reading about the long term future is this or that technology (fast breeder, thorium, etc.) but most alternative technologies have been known about for a long time, yet, more “conventional” plants get built. I suppose we can keep our fingers crossed, though.

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      3. mikeroberts wrote:
        France is not incident free. Last time I looked (a few years ago), they had quite a high rate of incidents (more than one per day, as I recall). The severity is almost always low (with a few rare exceptions) but it’s only a matter of time, right?

        That sounds about right. This is the Wikipedia table of accidents and incidents for France nuclear since their first plant in 1969. I think people can live with that kind of performance.

        mikeroberts wrote:
        And with a massive build-out of nuclear capability across the globe in many and varied societies, the likelihood of an incident rises, right? That’s just statistics. So if this “solution” is taken seriously and acted on, expect serious incidents to occur more often.

        More often, yes, but per capita and per area, no. And, presumably, we have learned from experience and will improve. Plus, standardization, as much as is possible, will increase competence and further reduce problems.

        mikeroberts wrote:
        And i keep reading about the long term future is this or that technology (fast breeder, thorium, etc.) but most alternative technologies have been known about for a long time, yet, more “conventional” plants get built. I suppose we can keep our fingers crossed, though.

        I agree. But I also know there have been some strange twists and turns in the nuclear technology path. Hansen thinks we would be much farther down the road if not for the obstructiveness of the Environmentalists (however good their intentions). Even without the promise of major breakthroughs, I think nuclear is a needed stop-gap. Wadhams is on board with this, too.

        mikeroberts wrote:
        Rapid and, hopefully, planned energy descent is really the only sensible approach, as far as I can see, coupled with very different ways of growing our food and giving nature a change to restore itself.

        Have you run the numbers on this? I’m told it doesn’t feed the world (Wadhams, Heinberg, Hansen). We need to ween slowly from high-density fuels until we massively lower the population. This will happen voluntarily or otherwise.

        mikeroberts wrote:
        after all, humans are what they are and we’ve seen very little evidence that they can collectively act in a different way

        I plan on looking into the pre-WWII period that Chomsky spoke of, when workers revolted and forced Roosevelt’s hand (don’t bother checking your high school textbooks). That seems like it could be a useful and instructive episode. You don’t know what you can do until you try.

        Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back– Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now

        Google: Goethe Begin it now

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      4. Incidents per capita and per square kilometre will also rise, Bill, unless you expect population to increase only as quickly as nuclear build-out (in the case of per capita) and the surface area of the planet to grow at that rate. More plants translates to more incidents. More incidents translates to more serious incidents. That translates to more people and more ecosystems being affected. This is surely just simple statistics.

        I don’t really care if Hansen, Wadhams and other scientists are on board with a nuclear build-out. If the don’t address the full range of consequences then they simply have an opinion, and not a well considered one.

        Personally, I’m glad that the nuclear rush was halted by environmentalists (or whatever caused it) because I’d rather have my kids and grandkids had “only” a ravaged ecosystem to worry about rather than an irradiated ravaged ecosystem. However, I don’t regard a nuclear build-out likely to occur (not that more nuclear reactors won’t be built but not at the kind of rate that would be needed to possibly affect the climate outcome). To me, it’s a bit like geoengineering – an attempt to “fix” the problem without changing our lifestyles. It can’t work (IMO) and will just continue the destruction of the living planet if it does.

        Humans are a species. Expecting a species to act in an uncharacteristic way is uber-optimistic.

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      5. France implemented their nuclear infrastructure several decades ago, they did it in the space of a decade, achieved a high density of nuclear power, and suffered nearly no consequences. Health & mortality -wise, a better outcome than the fossil fuel alternative, not even considering the CO2 benefit. I think your statistical evaluation needs review.

        As for the environmentalists’ blocking nuclear buildout, I think that may have been reasonable back then but, according to Hansen, they also quashed investment in R&D, which could have yielded benign technologies which, right about now, would be handy to have.

        I think the 2C scenario runs magnitudes higher risk for nuclear catastrophe and planet irradiation through nuclear war than any very slight risk of moderate, localized contamination from minor incidents. Gwynne Dyer paints just such a scenario for when India (a nuclear power) cuts off Pakistan’s (another nuclear power) water supply as the Himalayan glaciers dry up.

        We have decades more experience with Nuclear than what France had when they did their buildout, and the density of generating plants now would not be that much different from what they have in France, since they are getting most of their electricity from nuclear.

        Hansen has grandkids. He dedicated a famous book to them. They are his motivation, appearing in his slides near the beginning of most of his lectures. He and Wadhams have spent a lifetime of informed engagement with the issues. Your dismissal of them seems, well… ill-considered.

        There is a youtube about “radioactive wolves” in Chernobyl. You might find it interesting—from a statistical standpoint.

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      6. Bill, I dismiss Hansen’s and Wadham’s opinions on this because I haven’t seen them address all the issues of a nuclear buildout in our current situation. If they have addressed all the issues, I’d be happy to review what they’ve said, if you have links.

        If you think nuclear war following 2C is likely, I don’t see why adding more nuclear reactors to the mix is a good idea but your mileage may vary. 2C seems virtually certain to me. Michael Mann thinks it will happen before mid century, even with strong mitigation actions.

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      7. @Bill Shockley

        You wrote:
        David Letterman dismisses James Hansen

        I think you might want to add more detail here: Letterman believes that Hansen is underplaying impacts. Additionally, Letterman is very supportive of Hansen being arrested and his work! Your comment could be easily misread.

        Scott, can you add more detail in reference to Letterman’s inquiry about Dr. Steven Running (5:40 minutes), who Hansen knows very well, where Hansen says the climate will only add a few tenths of a degree Celsius if all CO2 emissions ceased today. Does this have to do with climate sensitivity being logarithmic?

        Thanks!

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      8. Actually, I didn’t get the impression that Letterman was disagreeing or anything like that… Just clearly passionate, and with a little dry humor added– because his audience expects jokes.

        Well, the temperature response to added CO2 over time is sort of an asymptotic thing. This gets back to the “40 year lag” stuff that has been discussed here. He’s clearly talking about the immediate future, so no long-term-ESS stuff here, and I’m not sure he was including the question of what happens when you stop emitting aerosols, which complicates this.

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      9. Balan wrote:
        ***I think you might want to add more detail here: Letterman believes that Hansen is underplaying impacts.****

        and

        … Letterman’s inquiry about Dr. Steven Running (5:40 minutes), who Hansen knows very well, where Hansen says the climate will only add a few tenths of a degree Celsius if all CO2 emissions ceased today

        This is a good point and I had totally missed this part of the conversation. I doubt that Hansen’s view of ECS is substantially different from Running’s or any other major climate researcher. Hansen differs in practical terms of possibilities because his plan for remediation includes a world-wide program of reforestation and soil management that would remove 100Gt of carbon from the atmosphere. That’s the reason he sees ~1C as doable (less and less as each year passes without the initiation of a strong carbon tax).

        Like

      10. Balan wrote:
        … Letterman’s inquiry about Dr. Steven Running (5:40 minutes), who Hansen knows very well, where Hansen says the climate will only add a few tenths of a degree Celsius if all CO2 emissions ceased today

        Listening again, I think I’m wrong about Hansen taking into account CO2 removal measures to come up with his “few tenths of a degree Celsius”. But I also don’t think he differs that much from the view that puts global temperature at +2C by 2100 in the no-emissions scenario. I think his opinion would be 1.8C or thereabout. It’s an interesting detail, nonetheless.

        Without doing a major search for a good quote from Hansen in the literature or videos, one could grab the y-coordinate at the year 2050 from his BAU graph in Assessing ‘‘Dangerous Climate Change’’

        It comes out to about 1.7C. Compare this to Wadhams’ 2C from his recent presentations, and the implied ECS numbers are not too different. This is indirect, admittedly, and there is room for error, but such is my reasoning.

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      11. balan wrote:
        “Hansen says the climate will only add a few tenths of a degree Celsius if all CO2 emissions ceased today.”

        In 2007 at the Nobel Conference, Hansen said if emissions stopped immediately, you would have a half to three quarters of a degree of temperature increase. So that would be

        0.8 + 0.5 = 1.3
        0.8 + 0.75 = 1.55

        Then adjust for 6-7 more years of carbon emissions (say, 20% more) + .05C higher temp., and you would get roughly

        0.85 + 0.6 = 1.45
        0.85 + 0.9 = 1.75

        Comparing amount of increase between Wadhams and Hansen, it would be

        2.0 – 0.85 = 1.15 Wadhams
        1.6 – 0.85 = 0.75 Hansen

        So, proportionally, Wadhams implies about

        1.15/0.75 = 1.53

        or, about 50% higher ECS. Say 4.5 vs 3.0.

        Body language-wise, they are both equally urgent in what we need to do.

        Don’t expect anything to happen at the federal level in this country or any other country that is still under the boot of our rapacious lust for resources and domination (most of the world).

        Youtube: James E. Hansen at Nobel Conference 43
        minute 11:20

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      12. I forgot I had done a similar estimate using the chart from the “Assessing Dangerous Climate Change” paper. Turns out his ECS numbers do not appear to have changed much in the intervening 6 years. +1.7C is near the high end of his earlier range, adjusted for the extra emissions.

        Also, my calculation for Wadhams’ implied ECS based on using 3.0C for Hansen is way off. I did it the right way, using logarithms and I get Wadhams’ ECS = 3.52. You can check my math.

        Assuming Hansen is working with ECS = 3.0, derive his CO2-equivalent concentration:
        log(x) * 3.0 = 1.7
        log(x) = 0.57
        x = 1.48
        280ppm * 1.48 = 415ppm

        To get Wadhams’ ECS value:
        0.57 * X = 2.0
        X = 2.0 / 0.57 = 3.52

        So Wadhams’ ECS value is only about 17% higher than Hansen’s. Assuming Wadhams and Hansen agree on greenhouse gas concentrations, which I think are not controversial.

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      13. This graph shows the logarithmic relationship between CO2 ppm increase and temperature response (note log scale on the x-axis).

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    5. mikeroberts wrote:
      “Sadly, Hansen doesn’t take into account what might happen if the nuclear option doesn’t save the day (or the nuclear option combined with other actions doesn’t save the day). If warming still reaches levels where drought and floods wreak even more havoc than they are already doing, then I would expect many societies to become unstable (all complex societies do, anyway). Since many of those will be nuclear societies (since a massive nuclear build out is part of Hansen’s “solution”), then the cure could become worse than the disease.

      No, nuclear is not a sensible option.”

      Your argument reduces to be “the only option is worse than no option because it makes failure worse than failure would already be”.

      I prefer the only option over doing nothing or pretending that we are doing something. I think we would get it right, too.

      Like

      1. SJ,

        I agree with what you said about nuclear power and Guy McPherson’s remarks. I don’t see the earth warming so quickly that people will run screaming from power plants w/o shutting them down. I think he says the collapse of civilization would mean nuclear power plants will suddenly go unmanned. Yeah, maybe in a Fukushima style incident where people see a tidal wave rushing their way, sure, they’re going to run. But I think that kind of thing will probably be fairly rare and anyone deciding to evacuate a power plant would have more than enough time to initiate a shutdown.

        On the other hand, from what we see at Fukushima, all those rods and all that waste is so hot, just hitting the off button isn’t going to cut it. Likely, at least someone is going to have to hang around for probably a long time to make sure the shutdown continues safely. My guess is, no shutdown plant will ever be safe enough. Just my guess.

        I think something else should be said about the collapse of civilization and nuclear power. Even if “civilization” did collapse, and someday it will, it always does, that doesn’t mean there won’t be any governments left to run roughshod over the people. Those who think that should visit the poorest countries in the world. The most repressive governments also happen to be the poorest (though richer countries seem to be trying to play catch up lately). Let’s say that money dries up and work on infrastructure stops, unemployment soars and stores close. People become poorer and unrest develops. What happens next?

        Even when the economy collapses and Governments don’t have the money to build bridges, they’ll always have the money to maintain their armies. Perhaps they’ll become less adventurous outside their borders, but maintaining control within will never be a problem. The more threatened a government feels, the larger its police force will grow. So, unless a Roman Empire style collapse is in the works, nuclear plants will be manned if only by force. No plant is going to be allow to simply meltdown.

        But yeah, no energy should be produced when there exists no good options for the safe disposal of it’s wastes. That should be a given. And when that waste happens to be lethal for billions of years and we’re continuing to build our stocks of waste every year, is this really a question?

        Like

  25. SJ,

    I happened to watch a recent series of NASA lectures and I found one particular graph presented by NASA’s Piers Sellers of interest. Of this graph, Mr. Sellers said,

    “It may be the most expensive graph ever made, and that’s not just for the colors. This cost several years of effort by thousands of scientists worldwide to put together, and it tells us something we didn’t know until very recently. Something new and something very very simple.”

    Likely you’ve already seen this but on the off chance you haven’t, I found it.

    http://ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/summary-docs/leading-edge/2013/images-docs/ipcc-wgI/ipcc-ar5-wgi-cumulative-total-anthropogenic-co2-emissions-from-1870-gtco2/image_view_fullscreen

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    1. Ah, yes, you have to know quite a lot in order to produce a graph like that. That was a key take-away of the new IPCC report.

      Like

      1. Hi, Scott.

        I’ve been in direct communication with Dr. Peter Wadhams at Cambridge University and he’s very insistent on David Wasdell’s analysis that the IPCC is off considerably on climate sensitivity, and is largely basing much of its conclusions, as I understand him, on political considerations and corrupt modeling. He is very dubious and upset about the so-called safe 2 C number touted by the IPCC Summary for Policy Makers. Despite the name Apollo-Gaia Project, I’ve gone through Wasdell’s analysis and have serious questions about the accuracy on which the IPCC is basing its consensus. Wadhams is placing his emphasis on observations rather than models, and believes, it seems to me, that Wasdell is really on to something. I’m asking him for confirmation from other climate scientists like himself on Wasdell’s work, but so far I can’t get anyone else from Wadhams who is willing to jump on board the Wadhams-Wasdell train, despite my tendency to seriously consider their point of view. Wadhams has, apparently, revised his arctic sea ice melt to more consensus-based estimates, so he’s not like unreasonable when he appears to see his own errors. He’s insisting, however, that we ran out of our carbon budget some time ago, and that our IPCC consensus is based on faulty sensitivity. The Wasdell report, again, is free for anyone to go through. It took me a few hours to go through the first pass through, and I’ll be visiting it again several times as I comb through the IPCC AR5 WG reports. He makes some really strong arguments in his document, though his formatting needs an English teacher’s touch. Wadhams gave me Wasdell’s contact info to dive into the details more thoroughly, which I intend to do. If Wasdell turns out to be half true, I can understand the dire nature of Wadhams dread on arctic sea ice melt.

        As an aside, it would seem that just with .85 C warming today, with arctic sea ice in a death spiral, and the Antarctic West Ice Sheet in terminal and unstoppable decline, and Greenland close behind, Wadhams and Wasdell are correct that the 2 C danger threshold is a sham. The original 1 C melting of Hansen way back, before he came out in favor of 2 C, then flip-flopped back again, is testimony to the trickiness of 1 C vs. 2 C danger thresholds. I hope to hell both W&W are wrong, but then again, they might not be. It’s not a risk I’m prepared to take.

        Your comments and insight are always welcome!

        In gratitude…

        Like

      2. Well, that’s extremely disappointing. When confronted with something written by a hobbyist that claims to overturn or supersede an entire field of peer-reviewed research, it’s (British understatement follows) dangerous to assume that’s true. It’s not really fair to say that Wasdell is “placing his emphasis on observations rather than models”, and ditto for Wadhams. (There are many ways to skin the “climate sensitivity” cat, by the way, and actual researchers are pursuing them all.) And again, the only Wasdell numbers I’ve seen are for Earth System Sensitivity– the-thousands-of-years-from-now sensitivity.

        Here’s a couple comments from Gavin Schmidt (Ctrl+F “wasdell”): http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/08/cmip5-simulations/comment-page-2/ , http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2014/02/unforced-variations-feb-2014/comment-page-7/

        The 2C target is not “everything less than 2C is fine, everything greater than 2C is armageddon”, obviously. Folks got together, looked over the available information, and noted that limiting warming to 2C this century was achievable while the impacts really started picking up around that point. Hence, it was agreed that negotiations would focus on that goal. There isn’t a whole lot else to be made of the number.

        Like

      3. The 2C limit seems to be based on old science. Kevin Anderson (Tyndall Centre) mentions this in his talk a couple of years ago. But, having agreed on this limit (supposedly), it has become entrenched as the holy grail. Hansen et al (2013) showed that a more realistic limit is 1C and that it is only possible (with luck) to reach that with a slight overshoot to 1.1C. Of course, dangerous climate change is already being experienced at various places around the world. 2C seems to be largely a political limit and perhaps gets repeated because it still seems like there is time to avoid it, as we’re only at 0.85C (or maybe 0.89C, if the Cowtan and Way corrections are applied). Avoiding 1C, on the other hand, is pretty much unavoidable at this point.

        From Gavin’s comments on Wasdell, it looks like he’s saying that Wasdell may be correct, but in the very long term (ESS), which doesn’t take into account mitigating actions or conditions that may apply in the intervening centuries (perhaps, for example, the collapse of industrial civilisation over the next few decades to a couple of centuries, which would pave the way for much vegetation to reduce the atmospheric concentration of CO2 – and, to a lesser extent, weathering of rocks – without more going into the air). I guess, his comments are fair but perhaps miss the underlying point that IF we don’t do something, then we’re condemning future generations to intolerable conditions. So Wasdell’s analysis seems a reasonable way to focus the mind. If we think magic will happen, then no-one will do anything and natural forces will take over (with the latter seeming to be the most likely path).

        Like

      4. Oh, forgot to add, John and Scott, that Wasdell in his analysis above is mentioning the IPCC chart that cost so much to make throughout his paper. Enjoy!

        Like

      5. Balan, regarding Wasdell, Wadhams and disputed climate sensitivity numbers, you might run your questions by David Spratt, author of the book Code Red and also the Code Red climate change blog. He seems very much in synch with Wadhams and, according to his Wikipedia entry, bases a lot of his stuff on Hansen’s work. From the few articles I’ve read, I like his blog. This was an excellent entry about destabilization in the antarctic, and this was one of several entries about the available (none) carbon budget that seemed to mirror the Wadhams video of the debate that you transcribed. I’d also run your questions by Michael Mann, since he seems to be aggressive in his estimates, possibly based on his view of sensitivity. Came across this, not directly related, but good/amusing video of his the other day.

        I’m not aware of a Hansen 1C 2C flip-flop. Do you have a reference?

        Like

      6. sj wrote:
        I definitely won’t be endorsing the accuracy of Climate Code Red…

        Do tell!

        Like

      7. From what I’ve been shown, it isn’t a great source. It seems to recirculate things from the “Nafeez Ahmed stratum” of the blogosphere more than it presents a solid grasp of the published science.

        Like

      8. I find Ahmed to be spottily inaccurate, possibly due to rushing too much—he seems to always have a lot on his plate—but he seems fundamentally honest and open, vis. his flip-flop-flip in his spat with Tobis. So, I don’t take it as a negative to lump Spratt with Ahmed. Granted, they are not climate scientists, but Spratt could possibly have some facts that could help Balan along.

        BTW, for what it’s worth, Hansen liked Spratt’s book:

        “A compelling case for recognizing, as the UN secretary-general has said, that we face a climate emergency.” —Dr. James Hansen, director, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Goddard Institute for Space Studies

        Like

  26. Youtube: Dr Stephan Harding – Gaia Theory & Deep Ecology

    I had a problem watching Lovelock’s videos because I can only make out about 1 in 5 words and that is insufficient to carry the meaning. I think it’s because he’s old and he’s British. The above video seems like a good interpretration of Gaia and how it can be implemented practically. Gaia may not hold water scientifically (hard to get around the teleological side of it. It’s like the last gasp of old Religion), but it attracts good minds and encapsulates a good body of ideas.

    Lovelock is obviously a rare genius—he starts from scratch on everything; great empiricist; great conceptualist.

    Like

  27. Dear Scott,

    Been away for a while and busy with students, content creation, and retooling all my courses for dealing with climate change. My students are thankful to you and others for all the learning happening on this blog, and gratitude for your constant care and speedy replies here.

    On a topic not usually mentioned here, but I’d like your insight. I was doing some research and came across a book by a woman named Donna Laframboise who wrote a book titled, The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for the World’s Top Climate Expert. What caught my attention is its 194 glowing reviews on Amazon, and her claim that the IPCC reports are not actually peer-reviewed. See Part One of a three-part video. Now, immediately I suspect that this probable drivel comes from the climate denier lobby, funded, I guess, by a special grant from the Heartland Institute or some similar organization. However, not sure. In particular, I’m fascinated by it’s apparent plausibility, despite knowing it can’t be correct.

    Your comments…?

    Thanks in advance!

    Like

    1. If you wonder whether you should take that book seriously, you really need look no farther than the list of people who give it it’s review blurbs. It’s a who’s-who list of climate contrarians: Curry, McKitrick, Ridley, Tol… (The same Richard Tol who was a lead author on AR5, made a big stink about taking his name off at the finish line because it was “alarmist”, and whose papers included fundamental and ridiculous errors that had to be scrubbed from the final report– probably the biggest mistake in the AR5 process.) There’s no shortage of bullshit like this out there, as there’s a huge partisan hunger for screeds taking down the great liberal hoax of climate change. This is just another one.

      Couldn’t take a peek at the video, as you forgot to drop in the URLs for your links ;)

      Like

      1. Thanks, Scott… Here is the link to Part One:

        Thanks for reply! Very interesting to me… now, about her contention and accusation that the IPCC reports are not all peer-reviewed?? That so can’t be true. Wonder what the hay she’s referring to… Any idea? Can’t catch any specific references, except 12:30… (in Part One), and Part Two (2:45 min) is when they get into the specifics. Not that I’m a big Judith Curry fan, despite her incredible research ability, from her wiki page, ‘Climatologist Judith Curry wrote that Laframboise’s book “makes a clear and compelling case regarding problems with the IPCC.”‘

        Key accusations all revolve around AR4 report:

        http://www.noconsensus.org/ipcc-audit/findings-main-page.php

        • IPCC Using Unqualified & Biased Authors
        • Graduate students are being given roles as lead authors, or coordinating authors. Example of Richard Klein as lead author at age 25. Another example of a guy being appointed as lead author before getting his Master’s degree. First Health Chapter written by woman without any publications as contributing author. Hired legendary scientist Bill Heir (sp?) that worked for Greenpeace for twenty years. Richard Moss, working for WWF… Jennifer Morgan who worked for activist organizations, helping to prepare AR4. Her issue is that IPCC authors should be neutral and appear neutral when deliberating on climate change science.

        Part Three
        * Accuses IPCC chair of hyping peer-review despite up to 30% of the articles not being peer-reviewed, otherwise called “grey literature” (not to be confused with aliens – ha ha ha!). Out of 18,000+ references, 30% of sources were not peer-reviewed, including press releases, and some other sundry things. WG3 over 50% not peer-reviewed. Lack of enforcement mechanisms for preventing conflicts of interest.

        • IPCC is a political body that does not give the scientists the last word, and SPM is negotiated by politicians on what science report says.

        Part Four
        Encourages debate on a variety of opinion…
        Admits to being a climate skeptic…

        Like

      2. I appreciate the summary.
        The “not peer-reviewed” claim is some bold nonsense. Each section of the report is the work of many authors, and receives a frankly outrageous volume of comments from reviewers. Take AR5 WG1 for example: http://www.climatechange2013.org/ipcc-process/ The first draft, written by 259 authors, went out for expert review– which, in that round, did not include governments but did include a few folks like Wasdell or some “skeptics” who signed up because they could– and got over 21,000 comments from 659 reviewers. The usual peer review process for a paper is that an editor receives it, sends it out to 3 reviewers, and after a round or two of changes it’s either accepted or turned down. This is a whole different beast.

        And then, the report is summarizing peer-reviewed research. Not every citation is a peer-reviewed paper, as they include things like reports from governmental meteorological agencies and, in the impacts and mitigation sections, probably stats from NGO reports. You can scan for yourself- I just skimmed a few pages of references from WG1 Ch 2 to give you an example, and spotted 3 meteorological agency reports and a stats textbook in amongst about 150 journal papers…

        The authors do, in fact, get the last word on everything. Even in the section where they have the least control, the SPM, they don’t have to allow edits they feel are inaccurate.

        The bottom line is that people who don’t like what the IPCC reports say– be they McPhersons or climate change deniers– invent the reasons they need to dismiss the IPCC. In the real world, all the climate scientists I know treat the reports as what they are– pretty damn solid summaries of the state of the science.

        Like

    1. Hi guys,

      Just a note, I watched a video interview with Chris Hedges who was in attendance at something called the Earth at Risk 2014 conference. He’s not a climate scientist but his views on Climate Change are… interesting. He said something to the tune of, the earth is going to be in a uncomfortable position likely within 20 years. Actually, he worded it much more strongly, but I always err on the conservative side. The gist I took away is rather more apocalyptic. What do you guys think?

      Like

      1. A bit more. A video (part 1 of 3) by Jennifer Francis of Rutgers. She states that the arctic is warming rapidly, leading to abrupt CC. She has a few rather startling charts as well. Here they are, w/o comment from me:

        http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http%3A%2F%2Fi47.tinypic.com%2F34fcoky.gif&imgrefurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.fiero.nl%2Fforum%2FForum6%2FHTML%2F057033-54.html&h=543&w=800&tbnid=dS9HyxaxVjBzZM%3A&zoom=1&docid=tX5_FCgSRvulgM&ei=DcN2VPWtDMe7iQLZ0YHYCg&tbm=isch&ved=0CFgQMyg0MDQ&iact=rc&uact=3&dur=366&page=2&start=40&ndsp=49

        Here is the video,

        One other video with Paul Beckwith. Here he says that he wouldn’t be surprised if globnal average temperatures rise by as much as 5 – 6 degrees within the next 10 to 20 years,

        I love his cats. : )

        Like

      2. Jennifer Francis’ hypothesis about Arctic warming driving some recent wild behavior of the jet stream is very interesting stuff, but it’s a hypothesis on which there is real debate among climate scientists. Still an open question.

        Beckwith is a PhD student who has been much-discussed here… I touched on what you’re referring to in my post on Guy McPherson, and it came up again in a comment exchange with Guy following a podcast interview I did. It’s only a few comments down from the top here: http://www.ecoshock.info/2014/09/human-extinction-not-so-much.html

        Like

      3. Francis’s theory has generated some controversy, but it’s not mainly about the validity of her theory, which has been substantiated by her own and others’ statistical studies. This post on the Climate Denial Crock of the Week blog covers the controversy remarkably well. Mostly, her theory was embraced as “OMG, how obvious! How could we not have seen that ourselves?!!” She was a presenter with other arctic elite researchers at a recent Royal Society conference.

        Like

      4. sj wrote:
        “The link doesn’t support your contention.”

        Which link? Which contention?

        Like

      5. Your contention that “Francis’ theory has generated some controversy, but it’s not mainly about the validity of her theory… Mostly, her theory was embraced as ‘OMG, how obvious!'” None of your links support that, but I expected only the Climate Crocks link was really intended to.

        Like

      6. Coincidentally, but not surprisingly, since he is a big fan of Francis’s, robertscribbler has a new post today ascribing more support for her theory to new climate patterns.

        Like

      7. sj wrote:
        Your contention that “Francis’ theory has generated some controversy, but it’s not mainly about the validity of her theory… Mostly, her theory was embraced as ‘OMG, how obvious!’” None of your links support that, but I expected only the Climate Crocks link was really intended to.

        I think I was adequately clear with this sentence:

        This post on the Climate Denial Crock of the Week blog covers the controversy remarkably well.

        I also wrote:
        Mostly, her theory was embraced as “OMG, how obvious! How could we not have seen that ourselves?!!”

        It’s how I felt and judging by its quick impact I conjecture many felt the same. Ideas can have beauty, and Francis’s theory is an example of that. I was moved by the explanation of how the jet stream loses its force as the incline that carries it lessens, and it begins to meander. Just like a terrestrial river does. An idea, simple at its core, with great power.

        Like

      8. Obviously the simplicity or elegance an idea appears to have to you does not necessarily say anything about its veracity, and certainly shouldn’t trump the fact that many of her peers (who are much more finely-tuned to these systems than you or I) don’t feel the same way. We don’t know if the hypothesis is true or not. That’s life on the edge. You can throw in with it if you like, but it’s important to acknowledge where it’s at.

        So, again, your assertion that “Francis’ theory has generated some controversy, but it’s not mainly about the validity of her theory” is unsupported.

        Like

      9. It’s not just the elegance of her idea, but that it was embraced. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the reception in the scientific community was more astonished embrace than controversy. Like a great Rolling Stones song or a Beethoven Symphony. It had power. The kids and the young at heart knew the Stones were great. They only became respectable a generation later. I think you would agree that Francis is quite famous now, and not in the controversial sense.

        It’s incumbent upon you to show serious controversy. It’s impossible to prove a negative. I only read the first page of the Science article you cited. It opens with the story of a scientist who arrives hostile and leaves unpersuaded. Nothing of the science exchanged between lecturer and listener. Very much in the pattern of Schmidt’s attack on Wadhams.

        If there’s a point I should take from that article, please paraphrase.

        Like

      10. I don’t think that’s even remotely accurate. It’s interesting work; lots of people do interesting work. Your hyperbolic description is the first time I’ve seen superlatives ascribed to it. It’s been around like any other line of research— some think it could be right, others don’t buy it, a few bend their research to investigate it directly. Francis is recently “famous” in that her idea has gotten lots of press coverage. That’s scientifically irrelevant.

        I’m gonna go ahead and ask you to read the other three pages for yourself. Not too much to ask.

        Like

      11. sj wrote:
        “I don’t think that’s even remotely accurate. It’s interesting work; lots of people do interesting work. Your hyperbolic description is the first time I’ve seen superlatives ascribed to it. It’s been around like any other line of research— some think it could be right, others don’t buy it, a few bend their research to investigate it directly. Francis is recently “famous” in that her idea has gotten lots of press coverage. That’s scientifically irrelevant.”

        I’m not sure what you think is hyperbolic about my description. Calling her theory “beautiful” and “powerful”? Perhaps it’s putting the cart before the horse, but if her theory is valid, I don’t see any hyperbole. Like the greenhouse effect or the theory of evolution, it explains a lot of stuff and my guess is the effect will become more pronounced as sea ice continues to decline.

        There is another Crock post that deals with just the scientific controversy rather than the war over public perception.

        New ideas generate reflexive backlash. It is a human phenomenon. I haven’t seen any serious objections to her theory that aren’t either ambiguous or that she hasn’t countered convincingly. Mostly, the data set needs more years of data.

        I scanned the remainder of the Science article but haven’t really read closely enough to form an opinion of the value or intent (although, the opening page is not encouraging). Two things I find interesting off the bat:

        1) the story about Francis’ rejoinder to the Barnes paper that “refuted” Francis & Vavrus. Did Barnes ever reply to Francis or did she declare Francis to have “cheated” by questioning her motives and therefore “quit”? I find this episode hilarious and too much like I would have done myself if I were in Francis’ position. LOL

        2) Kintisch claims

        She has conceded some scientific points, too. She largely dropped one part of her hypothesis—that a curvier jet stream is leading to more atmospheric “blocking”—after Barnes published an analysis challenging the idea

        My guess is this is a misrepresentation, but I need to look into it.

        Like

      12. They didn’t. Like McPherson’s similar mistake, they have a “6C scenario” where the trajectory of emissions in 2050 is consistent with eventual warming of 6C. I actually left a comment on that video— we’ll see if Paul responds in any way.

        Like

      13. WHO let the dogs out

        Hoerling, the scientist asking questions at Francis’s lecture in “an aggressive, unusual manner” is, unsurprisingly, a career pitbull. He did a hack job critique of a Hansen NY Times op-ed; his hack-job subsequently was debunked by Joe Romm, who felt justified calling Hoerling an idiot in an aside from the body of his debunking article:

        CCNG readers, Hoerling seems to me to be some kind of useful idiot or embedded denier in NOAA — he has repeatedly come out with snap analyses of extreme weather events that have been thoroughly debunked once real climatologists spend the time to do a thorough and reasoned analysis — but of course by that time the damage is done. Hoerling’s behavior in this regard is unprofessional and just scientifically inaccurate.

        I wonder: Is Hoerling’s rabbies shot up to date? Why does NOAA allow such shameful behavior to reflect back on their institution? Is Kintisch not aware of Hoerling’s pedigree? How about Science mag?

        Like

      14. Man, when you get going, you really get going. Imagine your outrage if someone had “felt justified” calling Peter Wadhams “an idiot”! What shameful behavior! (By the way, Joe Romm did not write that. The proprietor of the blog you linked to added that in.)

        Why does NOAA allow such shameful behavior to reflect back on their institution?

        I honestly think your image of how scientists interact is just unrealistic. Scientists disagree sometimes— on topics they’ve more-or-less devoted their lives to— and when humans disagree they can get a little worked up and put too much mustard on their words. They get frustrated when they think someone “doesn’t get it”. That’s life. Was Hoerling being a dick during Francis’ talk? It sure sounds that way, though I wasn’t there and the writer may be playing up the drama a bit. Was Hoerling wrong about Hansen’s point? I think so, but I don’t remember all the details of this kerfuffle. Is there probably a reason Hoerling is at NOAA and leading their team that tries to do rapid evaluations of extreme weather events? Yeah.

        So… what’s the point here?

        Like

      15. sj wrote:
        “So… what’s the point here?”

        The point is the same, even though Romm didn’t call Hoerling an idiot.

        The point is that Hoerling attacks to attack, not to correct falsehoods or to pursue truth.

        Why do you suppose there was no reply from Hoerling to Romm’s debunking? Because his job (the damage) was already done.

        Like

      16. Your assertions and a bold accusation about someone’s integrity and intelligence based on… what? The fact that he was wrong once and was a little mean to someone you like?

        To be honest, I get really tired of wrestling with your world of black and white extremes. Peter Wadhams is a paragon of gentle brilliance, Gavin Schmidt is a disgrace and a denier, Jennifer Francis is the new Einstein, Hoerling is a corrupt and foul liar. I would love it if you could dial things back from 11. Maybe instead of throwing people into categories— the infallible vs the false— you could slow down and sort through the details down here in Gray World.

        My question was what is the point of this lovely aside about Hoerling?

        Like

      17. sj wrote:
        “Was Hoerling being a dick during Francis’ talk? It sure sounds that way, though I wasn’t there and the writer may be playing up the drama a bit.”

        The remark I quoted was not the author’s (Kintisch’s) but rather an attendee’s.

        Later, some attendees praised Francis’s
        performance. “The way [Hoerling]
        aggressively interrupted was unusual,”
        says Arctic scientist Walt Meier of NASA’s
        Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt,
        Maryland. “But she handled it very well,
        with grace.

        Sorry I wasn’t clear.

        Click to access Melting%20Arctic%20ice%20and%20climate%20extremes.pdf

        Like

      18. sj wrote:
        “Imagine your outrage if someone had “felt justified” calling Peter Wadhams “an idiot”! What shameful behavior! (By the way, Joe Romm did not write that. The proprietor of the blog you linked to added that in.)”

        Sorry, I’m not getting the point here, since Romm did not do that. On the other hand, that is what Schmidt essentially did. And I was rightfully outraged.

        Or, perhaps you are ironically alluding to me calling Wadhams stupid for choosing a single year as his prediction target rather than a more forgiving and realistic range of years. This is called petulant affection, since I admire the man (and said so in the same post) and it is not expressed in the sense of an attack.

        To state the obvious.

        Like

      19. Err… no. If you can’t see the hypocrisy, I’m not sure I can help.

        This is too mixed up. I’m leaving it be.

        Like

      20. sj wrote:
        ” Is there probably a reason Hoerling is at NOAA and leading their team that tries to do rapid evaluations of extreme weather events? Yeah.”

        He may be perfectly capable at his job with NOAA. Being corrupt doesn’t make him stupid.

        Or, not. It wouldn’t be the first time an incompetent held a government job. But my guess is corruption and/or lack of diligence is more common than lack of ability.

        “Idiot” is more an epithet than a descriptor.

        Like

      21. sj wrote:
        To be honest, I get really tired of wrestling with your world of black and white extremes.

        Actually, I think you get tired of dealing with facts and logic. Please show me where I failed to adhere to these two criteria.

        Peter Wadhams is a paragon of gentle brilliance

        Peter seems like a genuinely gentle man. He also seems conscientious, passionate about his work, sincerely concerned for the health of the world’s bioshphere, and man enough to speak his mind and to use his prominent position in the scientific world to gain presence. As he should. He preaches the radical ethos of common sense prudence.

        Gavin Schmidt is a disgrace and a denier

        Not sure what motivates this man. Is it a grudge he holds from the modeling vs empirical evidence wars? Or does he simply hate extrapolation, in any circumstance? LOL His behavior towards Wadhams was disgusting.

        Jennifer Francis is the new Einstein.

        Please pardon her for coming up with a beautiful and potentially powerful idea. This happens every so often with smart, obsessive people. See Jerry Seinfeld, Joey Ramone, Charles Keeling, Charles Darwin…. Give me a minute and I’ll give you a thousand more.

        Hoerling is a corrupt and foul liar.

        Nothing I can add there.

        I would love it if you could dial things back from 11. Maybe instead of throwing people into categories— the infallible vs the false— you could slow down and sort through the details down here in Gray World.”

        Please show me what details I”ve left out. Thanks.

        Like

      22. sj wrote:
        *Err… no. If you can’t see the hypocrisy, I’m not sure I can help.

        This is too mixed up. I’m leaving it be.*

        Oh well, I must be a hypocrite AND too stupid to see it. Shucks!

        Like

      23. sj wrote:
        My question was what is the point of this lovely aside about Hoerling?

        Why don’t you tell me what was the point of the Hoerling episode in Kintisch’s story? I’m not sure what it was, since I haven’t read the whole story and don’t yet see its overall thrust. I’m guessing it is the story of the travails of a sensitive woman scientist dealing with the maelstrom that results when your brain progeny puts you near or at the vortex of an unprecedentedly contested scientific debate, vis the stakes of fossil fuel fortunes and the planet’s fate. With maybe a little spin added.

        Like

      24. Oh Jesus… You still haven’t read the damn thing?? All this wild raving, and you don’t even know what you’re raving about! What a waste of my time, and yours, as well. You probably spent more time writing those sentences about what you presume the article to be about than it would take you to read it.

        I guess this is what I get for passing along a useful article— one which I’d wanted to post for the curious before but couldn’t because of the paywall.

        Liked by 1 person

      25. sj wrote:
        Q.E.D.

        Once again, you fail to see the difference between claim and proof.

        You demand detail but fail to provide it yourself.

        Like

      26. sj wrote:
        “All this wild raving”

        Meaning, I have strayed from the facts. But you refuse to address those things.

        sj wrote:
        “What a waste of my time, and yours, as well.”

        I can’t help how you feel, but I have enjoyed the research I’ve done into the Barnes-Francis and the Hansen-Romm-Hoerling flaps. Fun and informative—what more could one ask?

        sj wrote:
        “You probably spent more time writing those sentences about what you presume the article to be about than it would take you to read it.”

        I don’t feel that way. The words have come easily.

        sj wrote:
        “I guess this is what I get for passing along a useful article— one which I’d wanted to post for the curious before but couldn’t because of the paywall.”

        I guess I should say thanks. It was… interesting!

        Your namesake, Samuel Johnson, said, even if you don’t read the whole book, if you have gone to the trouble of getting it, you should at least crack it open and take a look. Doesn’t matter what page you open to. I’ve always found that an interesting statement. I presume it applies to articles too. Maybe someday I’ll take the time to finish reading this one.

        Thanks again.

        Like

    2. I’ve always viewed him as the closest thing to Chomsky without being Chomsky. Intense, experienced guy. First time I heard him talk about climate. He wasn’t too impressed with the climate march in NYC. “We need to lay our lives on the line”. Never heard him mention Wolin before. Never heard of Wolin before.

      Interview ended kind of strange. Like there was an attitude somewhere. Interviewer seems on brink of heart attack. LOL Thanks for the clip.

      Like

      1. The way I see it, and I prefer to let the information drag me whence it will (that’s, incidentally, the definition of good science), if something crops up that I don’t happen to agree with but there it is, I broaden my thinking. So, yeah, I no longer think the earth is flat (for illustrations sake), that we’re the center of the universe or worry about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

        But we’re dealing with people here. No matter how many of us believes we’re righteously correct in whatever our focus happens to be, opinions can’t help but be subjective. People develop an interest in being right even when they later find that they’re position is not absolutely correct. We’re not machines, at least not yet thank God. Nor does anyone alive have a handle on THE TRUTH. At what point in history will we stop and say our understanding is finally perfect and we can kick off our shoes and celebrate?

        In that sense, science can become a religion for some people. Those not involved in primary science need faith to believe that what other people are telling them is correct. Thus, it’s a belief system not unlike any other religion. For the primary scientist who can test the numbers for themselves, less so, though those numbers may be based on faulty information. For the rest of us, we have to take their word for it. It’s therefore incumbent upon scientists to be as flexible in their wanderings as possible. Inflexibility is insincere and the antithesis of science. Rather the realm of soothsayers.

        Clearly when an investigative body has a vested interest in a particular outcome, it’s findings should be considered questionable at best.

        For the moment, the science says we’re hip deep in shit. I’m a skeptic but even I know there’s no whitewashing that.

        Like

      2. I very much agree with you that people have a challenge to decide which pieces of scientific information to trust given all the sources out there, but I really don’t like using the religious frame. Religious claims are, essentially, unverifiable, whereas all scientific claims are verifiable. Science also has a very tangible track record of demonstrated effectiveness. The word “faith” accommodates a couple different concepts, and I like to keep them separate. I don’t think that believing scientific information is akin to believing a priest. The challenge for the public here is sifting through complex issues when the information they receive is piecemeal, hard to understand, or filtered through distortions. And if one of these issues gets snagged into the culture wars, it gets even worse.

        Like

  28. One way or another, it’s a mad race for the finishing line. You know, sometimes you just feel like saying, ‘To hell with it’.

    NASA Bombshell: Global Groundwater Crisis Threatens Our Food Supplies And Our Security
    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/10/31/3586561/global-groundwater-crisis/

    World Population Will Soar Higher Than Predicted
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/world-population-will-soar-higher-than-predicted/

    World Is Locked into ~1.5°C Warming & Risks Are Rising, New Climate Report Finds
    http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2014/11/23/climate-report-finds-temperature-rise-locked-in-risks-rising

    Reflecting sunlight into space has terrifying consequences, say scientists
    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/nov/26/geoengineering-could-offer-solution-last-resort-climate-change

    Americans would rather adapt to extreme weather than curb climate change
    http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2014/1124/Americans-would-rather-adapt-to-extreme-weather-than-curb-climate-change

    On the population issue, to suggest, as we’ve been hearing for the last few years, that population would likely increase just a few hundred million to 8 billion in the next 86 years (2100) when it’s already increased from just 2+ billion in the 70’s to 7.2 billion in the last 40 years strikes me as rather optimistic. But hey, that’s just me.

    If, as it appears, science is as conservative with their estimates of climate change tipping points as it is with population growth estimates, it may be time to buy that boat.

    Like

    1. What did you use for search terms??! You could fill in for GM if he takes a day off. LOL

      Like

      1. Bill and SJ,

        I just typed in climate news I think it was. Or current climate news. Something like that. I didn’t bookmark it. I found a climate science site that had links to other science websites like Scientific American. No alarmist sites that I could see. I just tried to find it again but couldn’t. Probably if I sat here for awhile I could. If I find it again, I’ll post it here.

        Those were just a few of the stories like that they had. Links took me to other sites with similar sounding stories that I didn’t bother to post. Kind of depressing.

        I was thinking about something. I saw that recent NASA video that shows how the earth pulls C02 out of the atmosphere during the warmer months of the year while it builds back up during the colder months when the forests are dormant and we’re burning all that coal. You know, it occurs to me that a solution to Climate Change isn’t all that difficult to implement. For one thing, why don’t we stop cutting down the forests! The video appears to show that every bit of carbon is sucked out of the atmosphere during the summer months. If it’s a choice between saving the timber industry or the earth itself, I mean, is it really a choice?

        The other thing is, lets start reforesting the earth with evergreen trees. Yeah, it’s a big job, we did a real number to the earth, but it’s possible. Yeah, we’d have to do without wood but anybody have a better choice. Maybe figure out something else we can use during the winter besides coal to heat our homes. Yeah, I’m being simplistic, but it’s better than nothing, right? Any thoughts?

        Like

      2. Deforestation is a significant contributor to CO2 emissions, which is why movements to stop it have had climate motivations in addition to other ecological motivations. Reforestation, unfortunately, can’t solve our problem. Vegetation only removes CO2 to the extent that it builds plant material. When plants die, if they decay, that CO2 goes right back up into the atmosphere. (Some organic carbon stays in the soil for a while; some gets buried in wetlands that lack the oxygen for rapid decay.) This means that reforestation can really only remove as much CO2 as deforestation put there. It can’t touch the fossil fuel contribution.
        You might appreciate this, given the things you’ve been looking at recently: http://arstechnica.com/science/2013/10/geoengineering-through-the-eyes-of-the-ipcc/

        Like

  29. Good arcticle Scott. I did have a little chuckle when I read the part, ‘pipes held up by blimps’. Sounds reasonable but imagining all those pipes rising some miles into the sky only demonstrates the size of the problem. But great article anyway.

    I found the website I’d mentioned earlier, it’s a hub for climate related sites. You might find it of some use yourself, if you’re not already familiar with it.

    http://www.sej.org/library/climate-change/staying-up-to-date-publications-follow

    Like

  30. For those interested, here is a new video with several scientists including Guy McPherson in something of a debate. One of those on the panal, Rick Nolthenius, does an amazing job decimating Guy’s arguments regarding abrupt climate change. Indeed, while he states that climate change is perhaps a problem in the theoritical sense, he says that it’s really not something anyone alive need worry about today and perhaps not for thousands of years. He laments with Guy about the supposed rate of species extinction brought about through human activity, but says he believes that may be the source of Guy’;s obsession with the collapse of society. I think so too. Here it is.

    Like

    1. I skimmed through that to get a feel, and I agree that Nolthenius did a fine job. I think you’ve mischaracterized his views, though. He definitely wasn’t saying that “it’s really not something anyone alive need worry about today and perhaps not for thousands of year”. He was presenting the standard IPCC-like outlook. (If anything, I noticed he felt like the IPCC reports were soft-selling things a bit.)

      Like

      1. SJ,

        I guess that’s what happens when I try to do two different things at once, work and listen to a video. The part that I had heard started about 20:09 into the video wherein Rick says,

        “We do see methane but we don’t see disaster, not near term… It would take 2,000 years for the heating to reach and destabilize the clathrates at their stability depth.”

        Too he mentioned that C02 in the past has been far higher than it is now and then methane was perfectly stable. No problem.

        But I also heard the part you referred to,

        “I’m going to officially call. I guess this is going to go Youtube at some point. I would love to see the many fine, good quality brilliant scientists in the IPCC issue a parallel statement divorcing themselves from the UN (US?) so they don’t need a sign-off on Government officials who are the biggest polluters in the world and they don’t need a sign off from volunteers and they can just issue it straight because I read the original papers and they are more gloomy then the official pronouncements. Their official pronouncements are very…watered down unfortunately. It’s very unfortunate.”

        I think I got that all the way he said it. So I guess he’s saying things could be better but it’s not that bad. Apocalypse later. : )

        Like

      2. Hmm, from your transcript, I can’t see the bit where he thinks “it’s not that bad”, as you put it. It sounds more like he thinks it’s worse than the IPCC reports say it’s likely to be and that many scientists who contribute to the IPCC reports would attest to the worse situation if they could speak freely. But I’ll have to watch it to get a clearer picture.

        Like

  31. Nick Breeze has a new interviewwith Jennifer Francis (~11 minutes). She doesn’t appear to have dropped her claims about blocking. I think Kintisch got this wrong. Especially since Francis completely rejected Barnes’ analysis. The link from the WP article to her complete response is broken now.


    I am pleased that Dr. Barnes, a respected and talented atmospheric dynamicist, has taken an interest in the topic of linkages between the rapidly changing Arctic and the large-scale circulation. The emerging influence of Arctic amplification (AA) on mid-latitude weather patterns is complex, and her expertise will help resolve some fundamental dynamical questions that are relevant to understanding mechanisms driving these linkages as the Arctic continues to warm faster than elsewhere.

    What perplexes me, however, is that her intent in interpreting the new results in Barnes (2013) seems less than objective and is a direct attempt to disprove the work presented in Francis and Vavrus (2012; hereafter FV12). A very different interpretation of the results could be made. While her overarching conclusion is that the connections between AA and mid-latitude extreme weather are unfounded, I see a great deal of support for our results in her new work. For example:

    Figure 2 presents time series of wave amplitudes (or extents) measured using two methods: one similar to ours and an alternative based on seasonal latitude differences. In all cases the trends are positive, suggesting an increase in amplitude during fall and summer, albeit only some of the trends are statistically significant. Because AA has emerged from the noise of natural variability only in the last 15 year or so, it is not surprising that its influence would not drive 30-year trends in a statistically significant way. Note that her new method does exhibit significant trends. This supports FV12.

    My interpretation of the results in her Figure 3 is that in the ranges of 500 hPa heights that typically occur in mid-latitudes during summer (5.6 to 5.8 km) and autumn (5.5 to 5.7 km), the wave amplitudes are increasing from the early to the later part of the record. This, once again, supports FV12. She claims that because warming is shifting a particular height contour northward, it is incorrect to conclude that wave amplitudes are increasing. In fact, it is this northward shift – in particular the larger shift in high latitudes where warming is greatest – that we hypothesized would be a factor causing the waves to elongate.

    Figure 4 presents measures of wave phase speed. While FV12 did not present wave speeds, we speculated that larger amplitude waves should have slower wave speeds. Her measure of phase speed for waves at 500 hPa slows with time, supporting our speculation. She then measures speeds at the 250 hPa level and finds no change in speed. This much higher level is near the tropopause, often above the jet stream, and can be affected by dynamics of the stratosphere. The stratosphere is cooling with increasing greenhouse gases, leading to very different dynamical changes. Why did she choose to analyze this level? My only guess is to deliberately cast doubt on FV12.

    The mechanisms linking Arctic amplification with large-scale circulation patterns are clearly not simple and we still have much to learn. These new results provide additional insight into those linkages, but it appears that the interpretation of these results in Barnes (2013) was conducted with a particular intent. I welcome and appreciate Dr. Barnes’ contribution to the community’s efforts to understand the effects of AA on large-scale circulation changes, but perhaps a more balanced approach to interpreting the results could be applied going forward.


    “She has conceded some scientific points, too. She largely dropped one part of her hypothesis—that a curvier jet stream is leading to more atmospheric “blocking”—after Barnes published an analysis challenging the idea”

    Click to access Melting%20Arctic%20ice%20and%20climate%20extremes.pdf

    Did some checking on John Wallace, the University of Washington professor who was interviewed for the article. He has a history of not liking climate change getting attention. From 2010, an odd and at times irrational argument, and from 2005, how in 1994 he implored Al Gore to go easy on climate change.

    The vote for/against Francis, at least as presented by Kintisch, seems largely to be divided along political lines of pro/anti-climate change. Not what I call a real scientific debate.

    Like

    1. James Screen is the one other scientist quoted in the article, other than the White House Science Adviser, Holdren. Kintisch quotes from a paper of Screen’s published in Geophysical Research Letters:

      ” Last year in GRL, for example, climate modeler James Screen of the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom and a colleague reported that they had measured the meanders and found few
      statistically significant changes. “It could easily just be natural variability,” Screen says. The pair did find a reduction in the size of the jet stream’s vertical waves, which rise and fall perpendicular to Earth’s surface. But that is inconsistent with the Francis hypothesis, they say, because it would translate into fewer temperature extremes at any specific latitude.”

      Apparently, this is not the whole truth, since this video of Screen’s from last year links, for example, wetter summers in the UK with declining sea ice, and a shifting jet stream as the intermediary. His computer model confirms the behavior. Kind of Francisesque!

      Like

      1. Appears the Francisesqueness of Screen’s video was more than a fluke. They are collaborators:
        Recent Arctic amplification and extreme mid-latitude weather

        Judah Cohen, James A. Screen, Jason C. Furtado, Mathew Barlow, David Whittleston, Dim Coumou, Jennifer Francis, Klaus Dethloff, Dara Entekhabi, James Overland & Justin Jones

        The Arctic region has warmed more than twice as fast as the global average — a phenomenon known as Arctic amplification. The rapid Arctic warming has contributed to dramatic melting of Arctic sea ice and spring snow cover, at a pace greater than that simulated by climate models. These profound changes to the Arctic system have coincided with a period of ostensibly more frequent extreme weather events across the Northern Hemisphere mid-latitudes, including severe winters. The possibility of a link between Arctic change and mid-latitude weather has spurred research activities that reveal three potential dynamical pathways linking Arctic amplification to mid-latitude weather: changes in storm tracks, the jet stream, and planetary waves and their associated energy propagation. Through changes in these key atmospheric features, it is possible, in principle, for sea ice and snow cover to jointly influence mid-latitude weather. However, because of incomplete knowledge of how high-latitude climate change influences these phenomena, combined with sparse and short data records, and imperfect models, large uncertainties regarding the magnitude of such an influence remain. We conclude that improved process understanding, sustained and additional Arctic observations, and better coordinated modelling studies will be needed to advance our understanding of the influences on mid-latitude weather and extreme events.

        Like

    2. The link from the WP article [By Jason Samenow August 21, 2013] to her complete response is broken now.

      I am guessing that “complete response” was a draft that led to/became a journal article, as that’s how science works.

      So, in the absence of an Internet Librarian (where are the librarians, anyhow?) I poked around.
      I looked up the directory tree from the dead link and reached Dr. Barnes’s publication page
      http://barnes.atmos.colostate.edu/publications.html
      I’m guessing the published version of the draft referred to in the August 21, 2013 Washington Post is:

      Click to access Barnes_DunnSigouin_etal_2014_GRL_wsupp.pdf

      Like

    3. Hank Roberts wrote:
      “I am guessing that “complete response” was a draft that led to/became a journal article, as that’s how science works.”

      Sorry I wasn’t clear. “Her” referred to Francis. I’m thinking now that the snip I posted was actually the complete response. It was hard to know for sure with the link busted.

      Hank Roberts wrote:
      “I’m guessing the published version of the draft referred to in the August 21, 2013 Washington Post is:

      http://barnes.atmos.colostate.edu/FILES/MANUSCRIPTS/Barnes_DunnSigouin_etal_2014_GRL_wsupp.pdf

      I think the two are separate papers, i.e., not a revision chain, but thanks for the link to the 2014 paper as that seems to be the one that Eli Kintisch suggests freed Francis of her delusions.

      Hank Roberts wrote:
      “P.S. — Barnes et al. 2014 has been cited — Scholar finds 15 citing papers:

      scholar.google.com/scholar?cites=10879827905530171097
      Those are worth looking through, for those who like the way science works.”

      Thanks for the homework assignment. (Will there be a test?)

      Hank Roberts wrote:
      “Opinions may vary, of course, everyone is entitled to at least one, Because As We All Know, The Green Party Runs the World.”

      Surely. And even better when they are backed by logic and fact. I love those kind!

      Like

  32. England slammed by winter storms.
    Met office attributes weather to climate change with high probability.

    Met Office slammed by politician.

    Met Office looking into new theory that attributes Jet Stream stretching and sticking to climate change.


    The persistence of the weather patterns affecting both the UK and also the US, whereabnormally cold conditions have continued to affect the eastern and southern states through January, has raised questions about whether the jet stream is making greater excursions, north and south, and whether these waves in the jet stream are becoming more locked in one position13. This is a critical question because it raises the possibility that disruption of our usual weather patterns may be how climate change may manifest itself. The Met Office is now actively researching the best way to detect changes in the dynamics of the jet stream.
    .
    .
    .

    13 Francis and Vavrus, 2012: Evidence linking Arctic amplification to extreme weather in mid-latitudes.
    Geophysical Research Letters, DOI: 10.1029/2012GL051000;


    Hat tip to Spike@robertscribbler

    Like

      1. My guess, for what it’s worth, is that it’s just normal variation. We’re so sensitive to any anomaly, we think the faintest variation is a disaster. Ridiculous. If a ship goes down olff the east coast, it must be The Devil’s Triangle. If a few stones have been place in a line at Nazca, it must be a runway for alien spaceships. If there’s an earthquake someplace, it must have been created by fracking or some deliberate government test. You’ll see, next year they’ll be something else. Have a beer.

        Like

  33. Francis famously speculated that Huricane Sandy’s unusual storm track was the result of an arctic-amplification-distorted jet stream.

    A paper that cites Francis & Vavrus (2012) estimates, based on historical records, Sandy’s singular track to be a 1 in 714 year occurrence.

    What are the chances of that happening?

    Abstract
    [1] Hurricane Sandy’s track crossed the New Jersey coastline at an angle closer to perpendicular than any previous hurricane in the historic record, one of the factors contributing to record-setting peak-water levels in parts of New Jersey and New York. To estimate the occurrence rate of Sandy-like tracks, we use a stochastic model built on historical hurricane data from the entire North Atlantic to generate a large sample of synthetic hurricanes. From this synthetic set we calculate that under long-term average climate conditions, a hurricane of Sandy’s intensity or greater (category 1+) makes NJ landfall at an angle at least as close to perpendicular as Sandy’s at an average annual rate of 0.0014 yr–1 (95% confidence range 0.0007 to 0.0023); i.e., a return period of 714 years (95% confidence range 435 to 1429).
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/grl.50395/abstract?deniedAccessCustomisedMessage=&userIsAuthenticated=false

    Like

      1. From your ars article:

        “A group of researchers have probed this question by inspecting the latest generation of climate models to see if they might simulate more storms like Sandy in the coming decades.”

        Link?

        From your article:
        “They compared model simulations of the end of this century to the present day, looking at how frequently they exhibited each of the conditions that led to Sandy’s behavior.”

        What about the intervening 85 years? There’s a lot that can happen to ocean circulation, for example, in that time period.

        From your article:
        “But if this analysis is correct, climate change deserves no blame for the most important conditions that made Sandy a ‘superstorm.'”

        How so? The study (according to your article) analyses conditions 85 years from now.

        From your article:
        “That would be good news for the folks living on the coast.”

        More good news: the government’s picking up the tab for the increased risk the insurers refuse to take on. Good news for beachfront owners. Bad news for all the other taxpayers. Same thing happened in Florida. Jeremy Jackson predicts economic collapse when south Florida goes under.

        Then there’s also the problem of the models not doing a reasonable job of predicting ice loss in the arctic. Plus, are you sure we understand all the atmospheric dynamical mechanisms? Are they showing the increasing waviness and stickiness of the jet stream? Your argument is circular if they don’t.

        By the way, Francis’s theory includes a northern shift of the jet stream. She also thinks incorporation of her theory will improve the ability of models to predict sea ice loss.

        Like

      2. Link?

        You just read it. That’s a description of the paper.

        What about the intervening 85 years? There’s a lot that can happen to ocean circulation, for example, in that time period.

        It wasn’t a transient climate question. Warming is hypothesized to have an effect on the statistics of something. The easiest way to increase your signal-to-noise ratio is to simulate a lot of time at the cooler state, and then simulate a lot of time at the much warmer state. That was the strategy used.

        How so? The study (according to your article) analyses conditions 85 years from now.

        The study was looking for a causal connection between temperature and blocking. It found none. Therefore, it follows that the temperature change we’ve experienced was not to blame for the blocking event that led to Sandy.

        Then there’s also the problem of the models not doing a reasonable job of predicting ice loss in the arctic.

        The exact magnitude of sea ice isn’t actually that important, so long as it’s large enough to an induce a detectable effect. It’s been a long time since I read that paper, but I doubt any of those models had sea ice left in 2100.

        Plus, are you sure we understand all the atmospheric dynamical mechanisms?

        That question is kind of vague, but no, and I can’t imagine making that absolutist claim. Some specifics we’ll have lots of confidence in; other specifics we’ll have less confidence in.

        Are they showing the increasing waviness and stickiness of the jet stream? Your argument is circular if they don’t.

        It’s not “my argument”. It’s a summary of a paper.
        Your statement doesn’t make any sense. The study set out to investigate a hypothesis about what the jet stream is doing. It did this by running a climate model experiment. It reported the results. The jet stream did whatever it does in our models. Demanding that the jet stream display the hypothesized jet stream behavior in order to accept a test of that hypothesis is what would be circular…

        Like

      3. sj wrote:
        *Link?

        You just read it. That’s a description of the paper.*

        OK, I’m stupid. I didn’t realize I had clicked on your link.

        Bill Shockley wrote:
        What about the intervening 85 years? There’s a lot that can happen to ocean circulation, for example, in that time period.

        sj wrote:
        It wasn’t a transient climate question. Warming is hypothesized to have an effect on the statistics of something. The easiest way to increase your signal-to-noise ratio is to simulate a lot of time at the cooler state, and then simulate a lot of time at the much warmer state. That was the strategy used.

        But if ocean circulation is changed and the pattern of sea surface temperatures have changed, then the “no-sandies” conclusion could be for some reason other than “no jet stream weakening”.

        In other words, the conclusion of the paper could be correct, and still show a weakened jet stream.

        Are you journalistically trying to protect your sources? Is it government classified? Come on with the link!

        I shouldn’t have to rely on your interpretation of the paper to judge its intent, its methods and its conclusions, however faithful you feel you were with your interpretation.

        Either way, Francis did the same (projected ice loss into the future), presumably with some of the same models as used in your paper, and came to the opposite conclusion (regarding jet stream weakening. It’s possible she would agree about Sandies). Paper forthcoming. I’ll include the link.

        Like

      4. Are you journalistically trying to protect your sources? Is it government classified? Come on with the link!

        The paper is linked at the bottom of the article. They always are.

        I just checked the paper, and I remembered the method wrong: their end-of-century model stats come from analyzing 2076-2099 in all the RCP 8.5 model runs. So they were all simulations that warmed over the 21st century.

        Like

      5. sj wrote:
        The paper is linked at the bottom of the article. They always are.

        OK, then. I AM stupid. Sorry for being unclear.

        The link from your ars article is only the abstract. This is the full paper:
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3780869/
        Francis’ friend Elizabeth Barnes is lead author.

        Here is Francis’s original paper outlining the atmospheric conditions/causes/characteristics of Hurricane Sandy (it’s short):

        Click to access 26-1_greene.pdf

        Intuitively, it’s hard to believe Sandy-type pre-conditions will become less common. The whole world is anomalous/becomming more anomalous, yet we are supposed to believe Sandy is the isolated case that is simply a freak occurrence (once in 700 years) and will become even less likely with time. It just rubs the brain the wrong way.

        I’d be more sympathetic with the Barnes study if they didn’t jump 60 years into the future and, rather, showed the entire progression of probability. Don’t Hansen’s storms of his grandchildren land in there somewhere?

        Like

      6. Not exactly earth climate related but certainly science related in general. This is a beautiful website, an online observatory,

        http://www.solarsystemscope.com/

        Hypnotic. Really beautiful. See from up here, the Earth is a jewel. Check out the dwarf planets as well. Pluto is wonderful to watch but don’t forget to set the planets rotating just a little (at the bottom of the screen. Anyone know of any other planetary programs like this???

        Like

      7. MODEL vs model

        Francis says she has tried out a variety of models and that they show the wavy patterns will increase as greenhouse gas accumulates in the atmosphere.

        “The other thing we’re looking at is not just looking to the past and looking for trends in the real world but using these climate models or computer simulations for the future that we use to try to project what we’re expecting to see happen in the future as greenhouse gases continue to increase. So we’re looking at these simulations by a variety of these climate models and there are many of them around the world now and how these models are projecting these changes in the jet stream as well. And our early indications are that they are projecting that these large wavy patterns in the jet stream are going to increase in the future as far as we can tell and it’s preliminary research that I haven’t published yet but it does look that they are going to increase. ”

        Youtube: Interview With Dr Jennifer Francis – Arctic Sea Ice Loss, Jet Stream & Climate Change
        Nick Breeze
        8:20

        I forget where I saw it, but she also says some computer models don’t show the wavy jet stream because they aren’t using enough arctic amplification.

        Like

  34. Hey SJ, you’re one of the experts!

    Ever heard of Mississippi Mud? It’s a black and tan beer. Best beer I’ve ever had, can’t find them anymore. Rats.

    Well anyway, I just happened on this. An interesting article about Climate Change by James Hansen. It’s old but perhaps gives some insight into the development of the CC philosophy from it’s beginnnings. Here’s the first paragraph along with the link,

    “Whither U.S. Climate?

    By James Hansen, Reto Ruedy, Jay Glascoe and Makiko Sato — August 1999

    What’s happening to our climate? Was the heat wave and drought in the Eastern United States in 1999 a sign of global warming?

    Empirical evidence does not lend much support to the notion that climate is headed precipitately toward more extreme heat and drought.”

    http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/briefs/hansen_07/

    Man, I don’t even have a Bud in my fridge. I guess I’ll have to settle for a pomegranate.

    Like

    1. Mississippi Mud, eh? Can’t say I’ve had the pleasure— I’ve probably always lived too far north for their distribution.

      Like

    1. Hmm. I’m a bit confused by the terminology here. Is this paper saying that the warming “effect” rises to a maximum early but there is a continuing warming effect for centuries? That’s what I’ve taken from Hansen’s work and which is why the Skeptical Science article referenced go the title of its piece wrong – there is no delay between cause and effect.

      Like

      1. I think the graph in the tweet (Fig 1 in the paper) shows it pretty well— emit a packet of CO2 and watch how the surface temperature responds over a century. (The y-axis label is complex. It’s just temperature.) The warming takes place over about a decade before temperature plateaus. Caldeira just put up a short youtube video that might be helpful for putting in plainly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btyEr6oc1Gs

        Like

      2. Hmm, OK, thanks. It’s a purely hypothetical situation, of course (emitting a pulse of CO2 and then letting it play out), but how does it relate to the response function shown in Hansen’s paper, Earth’s energy imbalance and implications (PDF)? It shows the temperature response to a doubling of CO2 playing out over 2000 years (very slowly rising at that point) with 60% of the final warming taking about 40 years.

        Like

      3. Same deal- that’s the same sort of figure as the one in Ken Caldeira’s tweet I asked about. In Hansen’s simulation, CO2 is held constant after doubling.

        Like

      4. sj wrote:
        Same deal- that’s the same sort of figure as the one in Ken Caldeira’s tweet I asked about. In Hansen’s simulation, CO2 is held constant after doubling.

        Doesn’t this belie the concept of “pipeline heating”? Your interpretation suggests that ECS is based on a calculation in which CO2 concentration is held artificially at a constant level, whereas in real life it would presumably fall off as a result of oceanic uptake and whatever other means there are.

        But on the other hand, ECS and “pipeline heating” are considered synonymous, are they not?

        I’m not sure of the interpretation of Caldeira’s graph, but I suspect it may have to do with the initial conditions which, in his graph, may be “@equilibrium”

        I do note that in the Wikipedia definitionof ECS, CO2 levels are assumed to be at sustained levels:

        the equilibrium change in global mean near-surface air temperature that would result from a sustained doubling of the atmospheric (equivalent) carbon dioxide concentration (ΔTx2).

        But there seems to be considerable variation in the way ECS is defined practically, in common useage. I would argue that Hansen’s and Wadhams’ ECS values (eg., 1.7 and 2.0) don’t make this artificial assumption of sustained CO2 levels. And I would also guess that the effective peak time they assume in their calculations for a packet of CO2 is much greater than 10 years. Given the amount of momentum that they argue is in the system and the time over which it would play out.

        Like

      5. Your interpretation suggests that ECS is based on a calculation in which CO2 concentration is held artificially at a constant level, whereas in real life it would presumably fall off as a result of oceanic uptake and whatever other means there are.

        These are things that answer different questions. One is “What happens if CO2 is maintained at a higher level by the balance of sources and sinks?” and the other is “What is the impact of an individual ‘puff’ of CO2?” The difference is an important and interesting one, and one that I don’t think I’ve taken into account properly when thinking about the future. There’s always another wrinkle…

        But on the other hand, ECS and “pipeline heating” are considered synonymous, are they not?

        Not as I’ve seen the phrase used, no. Warming “in the pipeline” usually refers to subsurface ocean warming that hasn’t had its full influence on surface temps yet. (That is, the situation we’ve been in over the last decade or so.) ECS, on the other hand, includes sustained warming of the ocean. I think what Caldeira’s new paper is really showing (and I wish there was a figure breaking out these contributors) is that after a decade or so, any sluggish warming from the ocean is counter-balanced by the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. That’s in the absence of continuing emissions to maintain the concentration.

        ECS is a very rigorously defined thing in the modeling community. Now, when the rest of us schmucks talk about “climate sensitivity”, all bets are off…

        Like

      6. mikeroberts wrote:
        “but how does it relate to the response function shown in Hansen’s paper, Earth’s energy imbalance and implications (PDF)? ”

        Nice paper. Thanks.

        Like

      7. robertscribbler interprets it the same way (which doesn’t necessarily make me right):

        The recent study claiming CO2’s warming impact is felt fully within 10 years is what I was referring to.

        If that were true, we’d have already warmed by 1.4 to 2.2 C, not the 0.8 C we see today. Or climate sensitivity is lower. But that begs the questions — why was the Pliocene 2-3 C warmer than 1880 at 400 ppm CO2, and why did it only take a 100 ppm increase in CO2 and related somewhat minor increase in methane to sustain a 4-5 C warming at the end of the last ice age?

        When it comes to studies like these, rule 1 is to go back and look at the geological past. And if the study doesn’t jibe, then it’s probably not valid.

        Like

      8. Bill Shockley wrote:
        * I would argue that Hansen’s and Wadhams’ ECS values (eg., 1.7 and 2.0)*

        I mean ECS-based predictions of +1.7C and +2.0C — not ECS values.

        Like

      9. sj wrote:
        Not as I’ve seen the phrase used, no. Warming “in the pipeline” usually refers to subsurface ocean warming that hasn’t had its full influence on surface temps yet. (That is, the situation we’ve been in over the last decade or so.) ECS, on the other hand, includes sustained warming of the ocean. I think what Caldeira’s new paper is really showing (and I wish there was a figure breaking out these contributors) is that after a decade or so, any sluggish warming from the ocean is counter-balanced by the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. That’s in the absence of continuing emissions to maintain the concentration.

        You may be right about a rigorous definition of ECS, in which case I need to revise some of my calculations. I also need to point out that Hansen didn’t give a time-frame for his 0.5 – 0.75C estimate of pipeline heating. But I doubt he was thinking 2017 (in 2007 when he made that statement). Or am I still misinterpreting the intent of the Caldeira paper?

        Hansen also has a paper on calculating the time-frame for atmospheric heating in response to greenhouse gas accumulation. I’ll have to look that up, because it is close to an apples to apples comparison with Caldeira.

        Like

      10. I’m not sure exactly what Hansen was including when he said that and the details hold some pretty tricky devils here.

        But no, he certainly wouldn’t have been thinking 2017, which is kind of the point of the Caldeira paper. (I guess it’s kind of rude that I’ve been calling it that- Katharine Ricke is the first author. Henceforth, Ricke & Caldeira.)

        Like

      11. IMPROPER mixing

        Hansen’s paper on the timing of climate response:
        Climate Response Times: Dependence on
        Climate Sensitivity and Ocean Mixing

        Click to access Hansen_etal_1985.pdf

        With all the mixing and matching of models and runs (6000 permutations), it seems like the authors got a mustard-piece rather than a masterpiece. In Hansen’s paper a VERY simple model shows a 10-year response time. But the paper points out that this model ceases to apply if much heating is still in the pipeline, i.e., if sensitivity is high. Here, he means that 3.0C is a high sensitivity. So, the authors are improperly mixing high-sensitivity assumptions with low sensitivity assumptions to come up with a low-resolution mean that doesn’t have a lot of meaning.

        He also points out, as the title of the paper indicates, that changes in Ocean circulation can play havoc with response time, as is likely to happen with large-scale melting of land ice. Thus, Storms of My Grandchildren.

        Hansen’s paper is from 1985 but the logic seems still valid.

        Like

      12. 1- It’s not the same. That is a scenario of increasing CO2 concentration and then holding it there. ECS stuff.

        2- It wasn’t a 10-year peak response time, it was a 10-year e-folding time.

        Like

      13. Instant Doubling
        Let us first consider the idealized case of instant doubling of C02 from 300 to 600 ppm. The resulting time required for the mixed layer to reach 63 percent of its equilibrium response, T, is shown in Fig. 1 as a function off or ATeq(2 C03. T is 15 to 25 years for climate sensitivity 1.5″C but 50 to 100 years for climate sensitivity 3″C, if the diffusion coefficient derived from ocean tracers (k = 1 to 2 cm2 sec-‘) is used.*

        Steady sizeable increase
        We next let C02 increase linearly from 270 ppm in 1850 to 315 ppm in 1958, and thereafter as observed by Keeling et al. (13). The results (Fig. 2) show that a large part of the equilibrium C02 warming is not yet realized, the unrealized fraction depending strongly on f or AT42 * C03. If climate sensitivity is 3°C or greater for doubled C02, most of the expected equilibrium warming due to the C02 increase since 1850 probably has not yet occurred; this must be all the more true for other trace gases, whose greenhouse effect is dominated by chlorofluorocarbons added since 1960 (14). This yet to be realized warming calls into question a policy of “wait and see” and “if necessary, make midcourse corrections” regarding the issue of how to deal with increasing atmospheric C02 and other trace gases

        For the instant increase, Hansen’s conclusion is definite: quick response time for low sensitivity, long response time for high sensitivity — 50-100 years.

        For the steady increase scenario, his conclusion is not as definite, but he sees a buildup of backlog in the case of 3.0C sensitivity, saying the majority of equilibrium heating is still in the pipeline.

        So, with high sensitivity, the slower the addition of greenhouse gases, the shorter the response time, as backlog doesn’t build up so much. But as you increase the rate, backlog and response time increase.

        Until at some point, the trend is reversed, potentially very quickly.

        Cessation of overturning
        There is evidence that some mechanisms of ocean overturning are capable of sudden changes (16), and the paleoclimate record reveals cases of large warming within periods of no more than several decades (16, 17). Thus we cannot exclude the possibility that the climate may at some point undergo a rapid transition to the equilibrium climate for current atmospheric composition.

        In this case, ocean uptake of heat will slow dramatically, and sea surface temperatures will rise quickly, along with abrupt rise of surface land and air temperatures.

        All these effects —- the fast-response with low sensitivity, the abrupt response with cessation of ocean overturning, the slow response of high sensitivity, are presumably mashed together to produce a mustard-colored result without meaning or utility.

        Like

      14. For the instant increase, Hansen’s conclusion is definite: quick response time for low sensitivity, long response time for high sensitivity — 50-100 years.

        That’s not right, unless you mean something different by “response time” than what commonly comes to mind. Higher sensitivity is creating a long tail to the temperature response in that math. Say you raise CO2 by x and hold it there. With low sensitivity, the temperature response may be y, which you hit in 40 years. (I’m using purely arbitrary numbers here.) For high sensitivity, the response may be 2y, which you won’t hit for 100 years— but you’ll still hit y in 40 years. That means that after 40 years, all of the low sensitivity response has been effected, but half the high-sensitivity response is yet to come… So it’s not that low sensitivity climate system warm quickly and stop, while high sensitivity ones warm slowly and keep going. That is, it’s not that low sensitivity responds quicker, it’s that high sensitivity has a longer way to travel. Maybe you understood this.

        Again, this is still a concentration-maintained, ECS scenario.

        Like

      15. sj wrote:
        1- It’s not the same. That is a scenario of increasing CO2 concentration and then holding it there. ECS stuff.

        Perhaps this is true (double CO2 and hold) for the instant-doubling scenario, but you also have the real-world scenario of gradually increasing CO2 and the conclusion is the same, i.e., response time is highly dependent on sensitivity.

        2- It wasn’t a 10-year peak response time, it was a 10-year e-folding time.

        It’s a 10-year 67% response time.

        f * Tb = Tr
        3 * 3.5 = 10.5

        f = feedback ratio
        Tb = blackbody e-folding time
        Tr = 67% of equilibrium response time

        This is a bad example anyway, since the scenario assumes no ocean mixing, so it is more like the fast response time you would get in the scenario where the ocean ceases to overturn rather than a low-sensitivity scenario.

        Like

      16. The like-modern, gradually increasing CO2 scenario is no different- it’s still using ECS for sustained CO2 concentrations.

        Like

      17. sj wrote:
        With low sensitivity, the temperature response may be y, which you hit in 40 years. (I’m using purely arbitrary numbers here.) For high sensitivity, the response may be 2y, which you won’t hit for 100 years— but you’ll still hit y in 40 years.

        You are making it sound like high-sensitivity includes slow feedbacks while low-sensitivity doesn’t. Using your example of a unit of temperature response “y” after 40 years, the Hansen paper would imply something more like:

        response = 2y after 40 years, low sensitivity, 67% of equilibrium
        response = 4y after 40 years, high sensitivity, 33% of equilibrium

        i.e., longer AND stronger.

        The paper concludes that response time is dependent on sensitivity. The conclusion is independent of whether it’s an instant-doubling scenario or a gradually increasing scenario.

        The proof largely centers on the dynamics of ocean heat absorption because that is where most of the heat goes. This is how, for example, atmosphere response time becomes rapid when ocean overturning ceases: the ocean surface quickly warms and ceases to be a heat sink.

        All the boldly contrasting colorings of response time portrayed in the Hansen paper:

        -short/weak response for low sensitivity
        -long/strong response for high sensitivity
        -fast response for static ocean

        are blended and lost in the mixing methodology of the Ricke/Caldeira paper.

        Like

      18. Again, all ECS.

        There is no “mixed methodology” in the Ricke & Caldeira paper. I don’t even understand why you think this. They used the same models that exhibit ECS sensitivity in the usual (~~3C) range, they just didn’t run them at constant CO2.

        Like

      19. sj wrote:
        But no, he certainly wouldn’t have been thinking 2017, which is kind of the point of the Caldeira paper.

        Well, that is what I’m asking. It seems to me that IS the point of the Ricke paper.

        Like

      20. Yes, the reason it’s interesting is that it was surprising, and that people’s intuitions about how long this would take didn’t match our models. That means Hansen’s intuition in 2007, too.

        Like

      21. sj wrote:
        I’m not sure exactly what Hansen was including when he said that and the details hold some pretty tricky devils here.

        But no, he certainly wouldn’t have been thinking 2017, which is kind of the point of the Caldeira paper. (I guess it’s kind of rude that I’ve been calling it that- Katharine Ricke is the first author. Henceforth, Ricke & Caldeira.)

        Put R-C in Hansen’s shoes in 2007. CO2e was 435ppm. How many gigatons of CO2 was that in excess of Earth balance? Let’s just say it was 100Gt of CO2 in excess. If we removed 100Gt of CO2 and stopped emissions, global warming would have ceased.

        So, at that point, if you DON’T remove the 100Gt but DO stop emissions, you have the R-C beginning condition of injecting a 100Gt packet of CO2 @equilibrium. R-C contention is that maximum heating (unspecified value) would have occurred in 2017. Hansen’s contention is that the atmosphere would have warmed an additional 0.5C to 0.75C, by an unspecified date, but presumably he was thinking sometime in the second half of the century. Maybe someone needs to run this scenario by R-C (but first figure out what the CO2e overload was in 2007).

        Like

      22. sj wrote:
        Again, all ECS.

        How so?

        There is no “mixed methodology” in the Ricke & Caldeira paper.

        I said “mixing”, not “mixed”. They are mixing and mashing model runs to come up with meaningless probabilities. How would their study look if they divided the results on the basis of climate sensitivity? Show a graph of maximum temperature response time vs climate sensitivity.

        They used the same models that exhibit ECS sensitivity in the usual (~~3C) range

        How do you know this?

        Like

      23. How so?

        There is no carbon cycle to remove CO2 in those equations. It’s just radiative forcing. Where do you see anything that indicates CO2 doesn’t remain high once increased?

        I said “mixing”, not “mixed”. They are mixing and mashing model runs to come up with meaningless probabilities. How would their study look if they divided the results on the basis of climate sensitivity? Show a graph of maximum temperature response time vs climate sensitivity.

        That’s not “mixing methodology”, that’s uncertainty analysis. You can look at the spread caused by climate sensitivity in the supplementary figure: http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/9/12/124002/media/erl505119suppdata.pdf

        How do you know this?

        I recognize the models. Like most models, they were part of CMIP5, which fed the latest IPCC report. If I took the time to sit down and figure out the conversion, I could calculate each model’s sensitivity from the lambda value in Table 1.

        By the way, if you wanted to look at something similar to that 1985 Hansen paper, you could read the Caldeira & Myhrvold paper those lambda values come from: http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/8/3/034039/article

        Like

      24. sj wrote:
        Yes, the reason it’s interesting is that it was surprising, and that people’s intuitions about how long this would take didn’t match our models. That means Hansen’s intuition in 2007, too.

        People’s intuitions? How about scientists calculations? When Hansen says +0.5 – 0.75C, he’s not guessing. He’s giving a calculated range of values allowing for a margin of error. Wadhams’ +2.0C in 2100 is a calculation. Both calculations—Wadhams’ and Hansen’s—depend on an assumed values for ECS.

        If you put the Hansen-2007 scenario to them, what would be their answer? According to what you and they have said so far, they would say 67% chance that global temp would max out at

        0.8C + 0.625C = 1.425C +- 0.125C in 10 years time

        since you say they are using models that assume the “usual” ~3.0C value for ECS (same as Hansen), and since 10 years is what they claim in their paper.

        Obviously, this is impossible, since it implies global temperature would rise 0.06C per year, which is approximately 6X faster than before emissions were shut off.

        Like

      25. If your math seems to imply something impossible, perhaps it’s the fault of your math and not the researchers who had nothing to do with it?

        (And just because it’s a pet peeve of mine when “skeptics” say this, I want to correct your wording: “…using models that assume the ‘usual’ —3.0C value for ECS…”
        Global Climate Models don’t assume ECS values— they produce them. It’s not an input, it’s an output.)

        Like

      26. sj wrote:
        If your math seems to imply something impossible, perhaps it’s the fault of your math and not the researchers who had nothing to do with it?

        My math? It’s Hansen’s and Wadhams’ math.

        I put my question to Caldeira.

        Hi Ken, I’m not sure I understand what you are claiming. Sounds like you’re saying if we completely stop emitting ghg today, global temperatures will peak in 2024/2025. Is this correct? Approximately how much warmer will the Earth get in that time? Ballparks from people like Wadhams, Hansen and Mann say there’s a lot left in the pipeline—much more than could conceivably play out in 10 years. Can you reconcile this?

        Been following on Fractal Planet.

        Thanks

        sj wrote:
        Global Climate Models don’t assume ECS values— they produce them. It’s not an input, it’s an output.)

        Pardon me. Good point.

        Like

      27. The reason why response time is 10 years: THE MODELS are all low-low (creeper gear) sensitivity. Sheesh!
        LOL

        MIROC5 1.55
        INM-CM4 1.47
        MRI-CGCM3 1.26
        MPI-ESM-P 1.24
        BCC-CSM1.1(m) 1.23
        MPI-ESM-Mr 1.18
        BCC-CSM1.1 1.15
        MPI-ESM-LR 1.12
        NorESM1-M 1.1
        GFDL-ESM2M 1.06
        IPSL-CM5B-LR 1.04
        CanESM2 1.03
        GFDL-ESM2G 1
        MIROC-ESM 0.92
        FGOALS-s2 0.9
        IPSL-CM5A-Mr 0.81
        IPSL-CM5A-LR 0.78
        GFDL-CM3 0.76
        FGOALS-g2 0.73
        CSIRO-Mk3.6.0 0.63

        Equations 9 and 10 and the box diffusion model for ocean heat storage allow a numerical solution for the temperature trend at the ocean surface for any C02 scenario. Let us first consider the idealized case of instant doubling of C02 from 300 to 600 ppm. The resulting time required for the mixed layer to reach 63 percent of its equilibrium response, T, is shown in Fig. 1 as a function off or ATeq(2* C03. T is 15 to 25 years for climate sensitivity 1.5″C but 50 to 100 years for climate sensitivity 3″C, if the diffusion coefficient derived from ocean tracers (k = 1 to 2 cm2 sec-‘) is used.

        Like

      28. Ack! Thanks. Should have known by the units.

        Well, something is still not adding up.

        Like

      29. A CO2 emission causes temperatures to increase for 10 yrs and remain high for many centuries.

        This would mean they have a VERY low number for ECS because, at +0.85C, we would already be showing most of the effects of the CO2 that’s already in the atmosphere. So, for example, those who say we’re locked into 1.5 – 2C by 2100 are WAY off. This includes IPCC projections, I believe.

        Like

      30. If that’s how it works it would mean that if we stopped emitting greenhouse gases today, global temps would top out 10 years from now. At 0.1C per decade, we would hit +0.95C and stop there.

        sj wrote:
        No, it doesn’t mean that. Read the paper.

        I read it.

        Like

      31. You were wrong to assert that this implies low ECS numbers given that it’s based on the same models that produce those ECS numbers around 3C.

        But you’re also hitting on the tricky part of this to understand. ECS for a doubling of CO2 assumes that the CO2 concentration is held constant (post-doubling). In this study, there’s a pulse of CO2 emitted, and then the carbon cycle is allowed to eat into that.
        I asked Caldeira here.

        That does have some interesting consequences for the kinds of thought experiments you guys have been throwing at me.

        Like

      32. Actually, it would top out at about +0.9C.

        If we stop emitting on Dec. 31 2014, then for the years preceeding 2015, there will have been 10 years of emissions contributing to temperature rise. For simplicity, let’s assume that emissions have been at a steady annual rate. Also, assume 0.01C rise per year. At the beginning of 2015, 10 years of emissions will be contributing. At the end of 2015, 9 years will be contributing. That averages to 9.5 years and will produce 0.0095C rise in temp. In 2016 it will be .0085C rise.

        2015 0.0095
        2016 0.0085
        2017 0.0075
        2018 0.0065
        2019 0.0055
        2020 0.0045
        2021 0.0035
        2022 0.0025
        2023 0.0015
        2024 0.0005
        Total 0.05

        Final temp = 0.85 + 0.05 = 0.9.

        Wouldn’t it be nice.

        Like

      33. sj wrote:
        But you’re also hitting on the tricky part of this to understand. ECS for a doubling of CO2 assumes that the CO2 concentration is held constant (post-doubling). In this study, there’s a pulse of CO2 emitted, and then the carbon cycle is allowed to eat into that.
        I asked Caldeira here.

        Good answer. Trick question.

        Like

  35. Here’s a quote from the article,

    “On the other hand, Matthews and Solomon (2013) asserted ‘Climate warming tomorrow, this year, this decade, or this century is not predetermined by past CO2 emissions; it is yet to be determined by future emissions’. Our results support their assertion that warming that might occur decades from now would be a consequence of future emissions. However, our findings show that past emissions very much influence rates of warming on the time scale of a year or decade following the emission.”

    I think that means that if we were to stop all emissions today, the warming would stop too. The graph seems to be saying that the warming reaches a maximum roughly 10 years after it was emitted and stays at that level for a century or more.

    Well, I suppose one of them might be right. Science is like tennis.

    Like

  36. Youtube: How Most Life on Earth Can Die
    10/9/2013
    11 minutes
    RT interview with Michael Benton

    Interesting new views on the Permian extinction. CO2 injection into the atmosphere (volcanos) was FASTER than it is today. This is very new. Benton refuses to blow the top off the extinction/when debate. But he also thinks something must be done. The climate is changing. Politicians won’t do anything because their pertinent time horizon is their term of office — 4-5 years. LOL

    Youtube: Kenneth S. Deffeyes at Nobel Conference 43
    1:16:04

    Second generation petroleum engineer.
    Talk is about peak oil which he says is already here (nothing new, even in 2007).
    Very large man. Out of breath. Reminds me of the song Heavy Fuel

    If my ugly big car won’t climb this hill
    I’ll write a suicide note on a hundred dollar bill

    Dire Straits indeed.

    Heap big trouble in the land of plenty!

    At the end of the lecture is the panel discussion.
    Hansen speaks up and is expeditiously dismissed.
    Poor Hansen.
    LOL
    Bring on the Miocene!

    Like

    1. SJ and others, just a thought about Climate Change. I’d love to hear what you think.

      Everyone knows that climate changes. We live on a dynamic planet. Just look at these graphs demonstrating global temperatures over the last roughly 10,000 years,

      http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http%3A%2F%2Foi53.tinypic.com%2Fsg2wav.jpg&imgrefurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.skepticalscience.com%2F10000-years-warmer.htm&h=647&w=1080&tbnid=dE9hRPmkQ9KufM%3A&zoom=1&docid=VxlIHePjcSeMwM&ei=ivWBVL6lGNC9iQKQ1ICADw&tbm=isch&ved=0CFAQMygsMCw&iact=rc&uact=3&dur=1342&page=2&start=31&ndsp=38

      What caused these wild swings in temperature? It would be difficult attribute the warm periods to Anthropogenic warming. That was considered to begin around the beginning of the industrial revolution in the mid 1700’s. Same with the colder periods, not human related.

      Could it be that solar activity could be the cause? Take a look at this chart,

      The red line represents solar activity while the blue line represents temperatures on earth from 1860 onward. It’s easy too see that temperature changes very closely parallel sunspot activity. Could that be what was behind previous warm and cold periods in the earth’s history? Probably most anyone would agree that was so as human activity was incapable of affecting the climate prior to 1750. So if this is so, why is it unthinkable that any warming we may be experiencing today might be solar related? But, earth’s temperatures have actually been cooling since the beginning of the last solar minimum. Just as solar activity has been dropping as well. At roughly the same time, the term Global Warming was also dropped to be replaced by Climate Change. The answer has been to suggest that the additional heat has been going into the oceans. Where it stays warm? I don’t know.

      But wait, there’s more.

      While the arctic has been warming and the ice has been retreating along with increases in solar activity, the ice on other planets has been retreating as well. Take a look at this picture of Mars during a period of elevated solar activity,

      A bit more on the effect of solar activity on the planets,

      http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/220392/plutonic-warming/fred-thompson

      It might be an idea to look at the comments of Peter Taylor of the organization Greenpeace,

      “Building on the work of many climatologists, Taylor presents an alternative theory to explain the modest rise in temperature since the 1800’s and the likely future trends. In a nutshell, the sun is the main driver of earth’s climate (surprise, surprise). The crux of the matter is the various complex rhythms of the sun, from the sunspot cycle of 11 years to longer cycles of many thousands of years that variously influence cloud cover (via cosmic rays), ocean rhythms, electrical atmospheric effects, winds etc. Interestingly, the IPCC seem to avoid the concept of cycles, those rhythmic alternations of ups and downs – whereby we can be sure that whatever goes up must, sooner or later, come down again – and instead concentrates on ‘trends’, i.e. a tendency that presumably just goes on forever. Likewise, the IPCC ‘summary for policymakers’ consistently plays down the role of the sun and its rhythms, dismissing groundbreaking solar research as “controversial”, “disputed”, “unproven”, etc. As Taylor points out, this standpoint seriously weakens its credibility, because by dismissing plausible theories of how the earth’s temperature underwent cyclical changes in the past, it completely fails to explain the earth’s recent climate history and so weakens its authority in stating that the recent temperature changes are very likely due to CO2. I had the image of a pond that is constantly being bombarded with stones, each stone causing a wave. The apparent chaotic movement of the water is in fact the addition and subtraction of all these waves. If you do not understand the nature of each of the waves, how can one discern one small signal from the ‘noise’ of the many waves? (or hear a single voice whispering in a room full of people shouting?) In other words, without understanding the many forces working on the earth’s climate, how is it possible to state with any confidence that a particular ‘trend’ (warming) is caused by a certain phenomenon (carbon dioxide.)

      By taking us through the known undisputed science, Taylor shows that the contribution of increasing carbon dioxide levels to the warming of the last century is comparatively small relative to the calculated warming effected by decreased cloud cover as a consequence of the increase in solar activity over the same period. In fact, solar effects modulated by cloud cover changes alone can account for all of the observed warming. Further, the science tells us that the potential warming effect of carbon dioxide decreases rapidly with further addition to the atmosphere.”

      http://www.whale.to/b/chill.html

      Take care.

      Like

      1. It seems like you swing back and forth between “climate change is nothing” to “climate change will kill us all”… Where are you getting information from?

        Your first two graphs are not global temperature. It’s a local Greenland temperature record. The second image of it also misidentifies the end date, which is about 1950. (That’s the point of the first image, which was trying to show someone had used it wrong by not realizing that “Years Before Present” in paleoclimate graphs is by convention “before 1950”.) The second image does nicely illustrate the long, slow cooling trend of the interglacial period, though. Here’s an attempt at a reconstruction of global average temperatures over that period: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2013/09/paleoclimate-the-end-of-the-holocene/

        (I could go through the various factors affecting past climate, if you like.)

        On your solar cycle chart: http://www.skepticalscience.com/solar-cycle-length.htm

        Your National Review link repeats a common misconception: http://skepticalscience.com/global-warming-on-mars.htm

        Peter Taylor is not from Greenpeace— he worked with them for a while. But more importantly, he’s not a scientist (like the actor/senator who wrote the National Review piece). The claim that the Sun is behind climate change is a common one that always baffles me. Do people honestly think climate scientists are too stupid to realize that the Sun might be important? Pretty much everything in that review you quoted is just bullshit. (It’s just as bad as McPherson.) We know what the Sun has been up to, and it can’t have caused our recent warming. Start here: http://skepticalscience.com/solar-activity-sunspots-global-warming-basic.htm
        Here’s a figure from the 2007 IPCC report showing lots of climate model simulations. (http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/fig/figure-9-5-l.png) In the bottom panel, you’ve got simulations excluding human emissions— so only things like solar activity and volcanic eruptions. In the top panel, the CO2 emissions are included. The black line is observed global temperature.

        Like

      2. Some of these actually get less frustrating the hundredth time you’ve seen them ;)
        At any rate, John has been playing along in good faith, so I don’t mind. You can’t find stuff out without asking about it.

        Like

      3. Thanks SJ.

        No, I don’t think CC is going to kill us all. I don’t believe that. You have to remember, I’m fairly new to all this and I’m doing my best to understand the subject as honestly as I can. I am very skeptical by nature, it’s not just CC, but this is more important to get right.

        What I want, of course, is to find that CC has been understood incorrectly and everything is just fine. That’s home plate for me. And when I look out the window, that’s what I see. Type in UFO on youtube and you’ll find that one of the fastest growing ‘issues’ on the internet. It seems virtually everyone has seen a UFO and have video to back it up. I hate to think that everyone of these people with their videos of flying white dots are all simply part of some worldwide conspiracy and that all somehow possess the ability to fake it all. But I just don’t buy the UFO thing so I just avoid the subject.

        It’s the same with CC. So many authorities screaming the sky is falling, all with data in hand to prove their particular flavor of apocalypse. Each and every one of them say that they’re right and anyone who differs is just wrong. But, like the UFO thing, when I look out the window, all I see is blue sky and gentle breezes.

        The information I find by just typing in Climate Change and seeing what pops up. If the information is wrong or skewed, the sites aren’t telling me that. With my limited resources, I can only read what I find and try my best to jive it with what other people are saying. Your coming from one place, I’m from another. But I’ve dealt with ‘certainty’ from people my entire life that later turned out to be less so with time. Even James Hansen said not terribly long ago that it didn’t appear that the earth is warming, so I guess even he has endured the same oscillations as everyone else.

        I’ve read a lot and watched a lot of scientists arriving at very different conclusions using the same set of numbers. C’mon, who wouldn’t be confused?

        Like

  37. I see what you mean SJ. The charts by Shaun Marcott show a very different view of deep past variations. You know, there must be a whole lot of perfidy floating around.

    What I want is a healthy planet, I sleep better at night on that side of the bed.

    Like

    1. You have to remember, I’m fairly new to all this and I’m doing my best to understand the subject as honestly as I can.

      Right on! That’s why I’m happy you’re here.

      It’s the same with CC. So many authorities screaming the sky is falling, all with data in hand to prove their particular flavor of apocalypse. Each and every one of them say that they’re right and anyone who differs is just wrong. But, like the UFO thing, when I look out the window, all I see is blue sky and gentle breezes.

      I don’t know what you mean by “authorities” here, but climate scientists have been telling us the same thing for 25 years. Heck, Svante Arrhenius connected the dots between burning fossil fuels and enhancing the greenhouse effect in 1896. Some 97% of climate scientists concur with the big picture laid out by repeated IPCC reports— it’s warming, it’s us, we need to do something. Sure, there’s a few climate scientists who want to argue with that big picture, but you can always find a few biologists who don’t believe HIV is linked to AIDS, or who will disagree with almost any point. Check out how many scientific organizations have statements affirming the reality of climate change: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change#Concurring Notice how many have statements contesting climate change— zero.

      Obviously, climate change is not a thing that knocks on your door and says hello. Some changes have occurred quickly enough that some have noticed them, but mostly we’re terrible at that kind of thing, and these changes are gradual. Fortunately, we have measurements to do those things, and those measurements are unequivocal.

      Don’t mistake a public debate for a scientific one, or politicians stating “the science is not settled” for accurate assessments.

      Even James Hansen said not terribly long ago that it didn’t appear that the earth is warming, so I guess even he has endured the same oscillations as everyone else.

      You’ll have to dig that out, because I highly doubt that’s true.

      I’ve read a lot and watched a lot of scientists arriving at very different conclusions using the same set of numbers. C’mon, who wouldn’t be confused?

      Again, there’s good reason that public opinion is very confused on this (at least in the US). But while you’ve certainly heard lots of people saying opposing things, you probably haven’t actually heard many climate scientists (that is, the experts on this question) disagreeing. (The exception to this is that many media outlets have sought out one of the handful of popular gadfly climate scientists to add comments, allowing them to have as much representation as the other 97%…)

      What I want is a healthy planet, I sleep better at night on that side of the bed.

      Don’t we all… Still, we have to link ourselves to the evidence, wherever that leads.

      Like

    2. Scott has covered this well.

      If Hansen had say anything like “it doesn’t appear the earth is warming”, not long ago, it would either be him quoting someone else or it would be referring to surface temperature only, for which there had been no statistically significant increase for a number of years, even though the best guess line continued to rise, with a cherry picked start year (1998). The decade ending 2010 was the warmest decade on record and many datasets show that we’ve had two warmer years than 1998, since, with another probably this year. But the earth as a whole, has continued warming, even with statistical significance, because the oceans and the land take up more heat than the atmosphere.

      One of the main pointers here is that the energy imbalance (what comes in from the sun versus what gets radiated back into space) is clear, if not precise. Due to this imbalance, the atmosphere is obliged to warm until balance is regained.

      Climate change isn’t at all like the UFO fashion because it relies on hard won measurements and meticulous research, rather than a few fuzzy photograps or videos.

      Looking out of a window in any particular place in the world tells you nothing about how climate is changing globally. There have been many studies that show extreme weather events are occurring either more frequently (e.g. 100 year events coming every 20 years) or are becoming more severe. Some people who look out their window see no window, or no crops or no dry land. Should they conclude that there is no much going on? No, which is why looking out of the window is not a good guide to climate change.

      Like

    1. Ahh, but it really is happening.
      People trust their eyes.

      From Nick Breeze interview


      NB
      This has huge implications with — agriculture and… not just our summer holiday—it’s very serious… droughts, floods…

      JF
      Yes, yes, people who worry about whether there’s enough fresh water to supply cities; whether there’s enough snow pack on mountains to supply reservoirs and for agriculture, and just, all kinds of other uses; drought and agriculture is a big problem; storminess in certain areas is another big problem. So yes, it has a huge impact for a whole range of issues that affect… the way we live.

      NB
      The risk and the implications—that links very much to policy making and things like that—have you had any interest in your work from policy makers?

      JF
      Yes, there’s been a lot of interest from policy makers… it’s still a challenge to get policy makers in the United States to pay attention, and admit that we have a real problem here in terms of climate change–I mean, some of them obviously get it, but some of them are not as open-minded and willing to listen to the science and make their decisions based on science. So, I think we’re starting to make a lot of progress now, in getting big policy makers to understand that this is a big problem they have to face. But you’re right, decision makers at all levels…

      I think the decision makers and the policy makers at the local level get. it. much. better. because they’re already seeing the effects on their local areas.

      Sea level rise is an obvious one. They’re already seeing changes in drought and agricultural problems and dealing with fresh water issues, so, it’s really the local level that we’re having more success with.

      Like

    2. Richard Alley, Peter Sinclair, Jason Box, James Hansen, and others on
      Abrupt Climate Change
      Year by year the conversation changes. More scientists seem to have that somber tone now.

      Like

    1. Hi Scott and everybody,

      First off, thanks Scott for making me feel welcome here. I am approaching this as I’m sure a lot of other people are, hat in hand and just trying to figure out who you can believe. I do believe, SJ, that you’re honest and doing your best to dispel the BS we’ve been hearing from those scientists quietly supported by big business in some way, so I keep coming here to see what’s new in the CC world. As far as what Hansen said, I had quoted a NASA article above. Here it is again,

      “Whither U.S. Climate?

      By James Hansen, Reto Ruedy, Jay Glascoe and Makiko Sato — August 1999

      What’s happening to our climate? Was the heat wave and drought in the Eastern United States in 1999 a sign of global warming?

      Empirical evidence does not lend much support to the notion that climate is headed precipitately toward more extreme heat and drought.”

      http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/briefs/hansen_07/

      I confess I haven’t read the whole article. If it turns out I misquoted him, my apologies.

      Thanks for this website SJ. You know, I was wondering what you might think of having a ‘Front Page’ to Fractal Planet that might cover daily or just the most current CC news. I’m sure that would keep the people popping in regularly to see what’s new. Just a thought.

      Like

      1. As far as what Hansen said, I had quoted a NASA article above. Here it is again,

        Okay, so I think you’ve misunderstood him (and the other authors). They’re not saying the Earth isn’t warming (which wouldn’t be good— it’s hard to win an argument with a thermometer), they were rejecting a hypothetical claim that the 1999 drought in part of the US should be taken as a sign that global warming was suddenly taking off like a rocket ship. They go on to explain how warming in the eastern US has been slower than the global average (a well-known fact). Then they get into why the drought in 1999 didn’t mean the eastern US was going to suddenly “catch up” to the global average. And at the end:

        In the meantime, we can venture two “predictions” on “whither U.S. climate”. First, regarding U.S. temperature, we have argued (Hansen et al., 1999a) that the next decade will be warmer than the 1990s, rivaling if not exceeding the 1930s.

        Guess what? They were right: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs_v3/Fig.D.gif

        You know, I was wondering what you might think of having a ‘Front Page’ to Fractal Planet that might cover daily or just the most current CC news. I’m sure that would keep the people popping in regularly to see what’s new. Just a thought.

        Oy, I just don’t think I have the time to do that. The blog was really just meant to be an outlet for things I wanted to write or post that wouldn’t belong in the outlets I write for. It’s all I can do to keep up with my daily workload and try to earn my keep. I’ve probably got a dozen unfinished drafts for posts here that I just never get around to working on. I had hoped to write up short little posts here on papers I thought were interesting but didn’t have time to cover properly, but you can see that dream died after just one post. We’ll see— I’m always thinking about what I could do with this space, and how I could carve out the time to do it. But for the time being, I think the conversation here in the comments is about all I’ve got in me ;) I do try to pass on the most interesting stories I read on Twitter, though.

        Like

      2. Hey SJ,

        I guess that’s what happens when I don’t read the whole article. I might have missed that anyway. :)

        Well heck, I do have a couple more questions for you when you have the time. Doesn’t the new NASA animation, the one that shows CO2 buildup over the earth during the winter and it’s uptake by the forests (what we have left) during the summer months demonstrate that the earth can easily remove CO2 from the atmosphere?

        From the looks of the animation, it appears that pretty much all of the CO2 is removed from the atmosphere each and every summer. Perhaps it’s not even necessary to stop the complete use of fossil fuels, just cut back a bit. It’s not that I like the idea of polluting the atmosphere, of course, but it does appear that carbon is readily used by the environment and maybe it really is a healthy addition to plant life.

        One other question. I’ve asked this question before but I think I may have worded it the wrong way. I’m just looking for your personal opinion on where you think we stand at present as a planet. If you don’t feel comfortable with this question, just disregard it.

        If you had to choose one of four answers to the above question, which do you think comes closer to where you think the science is leading us?

        a) Overall, we’re ok. We need to work on the CC issue but it’s not the end of the world.
        b) Things don’t look great, we may face some real problems some day but it’s not the end of the world.
        c) We should be ‘prepping’ for hard times just ahead.
        d) Shit.

        Thanks again for your time SJ. It’s appreciated! : )

        Like

      3. You have to look closely at the legend for the color scheme in that animation— it only goes from 377 parts per million to 395 parts per million. (This is to make the annual cycle clearly visible.) If you look at a graph of atmospheric CO2 over time (http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/webdata/ccgg/trends/co2_data_mlo.png) you’ll see that the annual cycle is very small compared to the long-term trend.

        The new Ricke and Caldeira paper that’s been discussed here recently actually provides a way to answer the question you’re asking. (I’m working on a story about it right now, so I’ve got this at my fingertips.) They use a carbon cycle model experiment laid out here: http://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/13/2793/2013/acp-13-2793-2013.pdf If you look at the top of Figure 1, you’ll see what I mean. Basically, they instantaneously raise atmospheric CO2 from 389 ppm to 436 ppm and then stop all human emissions. About 40% of that added CO2 is pulled out by the ocean and plants over the first 20 years. But at the end of a century, almost half of it is still in the atmosphere. After a thousand years, over 20% of it is still up there.

        Now, for your multiple choice quiz… I guess I would go with “C”, though I would bet that wording would be interpreted differently by different people. I’m not building a survival bunker in the yard (which I doubt my landlord would appreciate). I mean that “we” as a society clearly need to work to adapt to some unavoidable impacts, and work to minimize additional impacts by weaning ourselves off fossil fuels quickly. We’re already facing impacts, and they will only increase. That doesn’t mean I see the end of days coming, with hockey-pad-clad motorcycle gangs wrestling over the last crate of Twinkies. It just means we face very serious problems worthy of serious and well thought-out responses.

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      4. sj wrote:
        They use a carbon cycle model experiment laid out here: http://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/13/2793/2013/acp-13-2793-2013.pdf If you look at the top of Figure 1, you’ll see what I mean.

        This paper explains a lot. The Ricke-Caldeira paper seems like only part of the story, and the title

        Maximum warming occurs about one decade after a carbon dioxide emission

        is misleading. Figure 2 from the Joos paper tells the whole story.

        Graph (a )seems to correspond to the R-C chart which is the main claim of their paper, i.e., global temperature response is at a maximum 10 years following injection of the CO2 packet.

        The Joos chart basically follows the same pattern of achieving an early peak, falling off slightly, and then maintaining for a long period thereafter. The Hadley model curve (HadGEM2-ES) is the only dissenter.

        Graphs (b) and (c) show where the overwhelming majority of the heat is going, i.e., into the oceans and into land ice, raising sea level. So, yeah, if climate is only surface air temps, then they have a case. But if you live in a low-lying coastal area, you might want to seek more info and define climate change more broadly. Hansen’s number 1 and number 2 priority effects of climate change as it relates to humans are sea level and species extinction, in that order.

        I still have problems with the main claim of maximum air temp response in 10 years. The ice core record shows CO2, sea level and air temps responding pretty much in lock step through many glacial cycles. That’s where ECS gets its most accurate and reliable value, according to Hansen.

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      5. …is misleading. Figure 2 from the Joos paper tells the whole story.

        If you think this, it’s because you don’t understand the difference in methods between the two papers. Joos et al used individual model runs, which include natural variability (as stated in the caption). Ricke and Caldeira used a numerical equation with variables for the climate sensitivity of various models.

        Graphs (b) and (c) show where the overwhelming majority of the heat is going, i.e., into the oceans and into land ice, raising sea level. So, yeah, if climate is only surface air temps, then they have a case. But if you live in a low-lying coastal area, you might want to seek more info and define climate change more broadly.

        This point is made explicitly in the Ricke & Caldeira paper.

        I still have problems with the main claim of maximum air temp response in 10 years. The ice core record shows CO2, sea level and air temps responding pretty much in lock step through many glacial cycles. That’s where ECS gets its most accurate and reliable value, according to Hansen.

        It appears you still don’t get the fundamental difference between examining a scenario where CO2 increases and is kept high by continuing emissions, and one in which there are no continuing emissions and you evaluate only the influence of your initial pulse.

        Why are you so determined to prove that the Ricke and Caldeira paper must be fatally flawed somehow?

        Like

      6. sj wrote:
        If you think this, it’s because you don’t understand the difference in methods between the two papers. Joos et al used individual model runs, which include natural variability (as stated in the caption). Ricke and Caldeira used a numerical equation with variables for the climate sensitivity of various models.

        I had overlooked the fact that R-C are using “fits” rather than actual model runs, but fits are SUPPOSED TO mimic the model runs, to save on compute time and allow for a statistical number of runs. I said that their results are comparable, qualitatively, so what is your point? Joos said that making a large number of runs could lower the uncertainty of his own results. This appears to be what R-C did.

        sj wrote:
        This point is made explicitly in the Ricke & Caldeira paper.

        Pardon me. Could you quote the passage?

        Even so, why not use a less ambiguous, less provocative title?

        sj wrote:
        It appears you still don’t get the fundamental difference between examining a scenario where CO2 increases and is kept high by continuing emissions, and one in which there are no continuing emissions and you evaluate only the influence of your initial pulse.

        This is not the scenario depicted in the glacial cycle graph. Who/what is emitting CO2? CO2 is a feedback of rising temps initiated by changing solar irradiance.

        A packet of CO2 is released. As a result:

        1) Ocean temperatures rise
        2) Sea level rises
        3) Air temps rise

        To the point of equilibrium. Sea level is said to be the thermometer of the globe.

        The glacial cycle graph shows that these quantities move in substantial lock step if forcing is gradual. They peak and bottom at the same time because everything stays close to equilibrium.

        Maybe I am missing something but you haven’t made it clear. Mostly what I hear from you is “You’re wrong because ECS”. ECS is the temp the atmosphere arrives at @equilibrium whether the forcing is a change in solar irradiance or a pulse of CO2.

        You can convince me by explaining how Michael Mann or James Hansen or Peter Wadhams saying it will take decades for temps to come to equilibrium with the CO2 that is already in the atmosphere reconciles with what these people are saying. That will be proof. Models PROVE nothing. I hope the article you write on the R-C paper includes their explanation of this disparity.

        Like

      7. I had overlooked the fact that R-C are using “fits” rather than actual model runs, but fits are SUPPOSED TO mimic the model runs, to save on compute time and allow for a statistical number of runs.

        Not in the way you’re suggesting. Ricke and Caldeira weren’t interested in natural variability of temperature, they were interested in the specific underlying behavior directly attributable to what CO2 was doing. Their equation could not have produced that variability. Joos et al. weren’t interested in it, either, but their method could not have avoided it (unless they ran loads of simulations and averaged them).

        Pardon me. Could you quote the passage?
        Ctrl+F: sea level

        While the maximum warming effect of a CO2 emission may manifest itself in only one decade, other impact-relevant effects, such as sea level rise, will quite clearly not reach their maximum until after the first century (see, e.g., figure 2(c) of Joos et al (2013)). For many impacts, such as changes to natural ecosystems, degradation is the result of the cumulative effects of consecutive years of warming or precipitation change (Parmesan and Yohe 2003). Ice sheet melting can persist for thousands of years following a warming (Huybrechts et al 2011). As such, even if maximum warming occurs within a decade, maximum impact may not be reached until much later. From this perspective, Steven Chu’s statement that today’s damage ‘will not be seen for at least 50 years’ may well be accurate.

        Even so, why not use a less ambiguous, less provocative title?

        The title is not ambiguous, it’s specifically talking about warming, and it is completely accurate.

        This is not the scenario depicted in the glacial cycle graph. Who/what is emitting CO2? CO2 is a feedback of rising temps initiated by changing solar irradiance.

        Yes, it is the scenario. If CO2 rose and stayed at a higher concentration for a longtime, it’s because the balance of the carbon cycle was at a new equilibrium maintaining that concentration. You don’t need humans emitting CO2, obviously. The details of the glacial/interglacial CO2 changes are still hot topics for research, but the feeling is that the deep ocean was the major player. Certain climate states increase the venting of CO2 from the deep ocean, while others restrict it. And yes, your other feedbacks are there as well, contributing to shifting the equilibrium to a higher-CO2 condition.

        ECS is the temp the atmosphere arrives at @equilibrium whether the forcing is a change in solar irradiance or a pulse of CO2.

        No, not a pulse. I feel like I’ve made that clear. It’s the temperature response to a sustained, step-wise forcing increase. A pulse of CO2 is transient, hence the existence of the Ricke and Caldeira paper.

        You can convince me by explaining how Michael Mann or James Hansen or Peter Wadhams saying it will take decades for temps to come to equilibrium with the CO2 that is already in the atmosphere reconciles with what these people are saying. That will be proof. Models PROVE nothing.

        Their statements are based on models, so this is a bizarre argument. And the point of this new paper is that it bucks the conventional wisdom people have relied on in answering that question. So the answer could be “They’re wrong.” That’s science progressing. Folks whose names you know are not invulnerable to that. The answer could also be, depending on each specific statement, that they’re including some other factors not being considered here. The point of this paper is not to make a specific prediction about a hypothetical (and extraordinarily unrealistic) scenario, it’s to clarify a conceptual point that helps us understand the consequences/benefits of our actions.

        So once again, I have to express concern that you’re much more interested in defending your pre-existing opinions than you are about learning. When your hackles get up, you flip into a completely different mode. Some statements you’ll accept without a moment’s thought— others you’ll seemingly fight to the death. This is how motivated reasoning works. (And yes, I realize that saying this will only make you feel more defensive. So it goes.)

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      8. sj wrote:
        So once again, I have to express concern that you’re much more interested in defending your pre-existing opinions than you are about learning.

        I would like to know what R-C think will happen to the unrealized forcing that exists now in the atmosphere. It has to go somewhere. They say it will not go into the atmosphere because it is impossible to get that much surface air temperature rise in a decade. So, where is it going? Into the sea? Surely, their models are telling them the answer to this question.

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      9. Their model is an equation. It’s not a global climate model with coupled components.

        You remember the CO2 graph from Joos et al.? That’s what the CO2 forcing looks like. In fact, just go look at that paper again for your answers.
        Just as over 90% of the heat energy added by increased greenhouse gases has gone into the ocean, that’s where additional energy would mostly go. That’s where most of the climate system’s thermal capacity is.

        Like

      10. sj wrote:
        “Their statements are based on models, so this is a bizarre argument. And the point of this new paper is that it bucks the conventional wisdom people have relied on in answering that question.”

        Once again, “conventional wisdom” is really decades-long detailed study of paleo-climate and modeling studies that have narrowed the ECS estimate, as evidenced by your own IPCC link to a table of model-derived ECS values, many of which are used in the R-C study.

        And once again, what is bizarre is the complete absence of reference to the huge body of accepted science they are overturning.

        And you seem to be completely acquiescent in this avoidance. Aren’t you a little bit curious what their answer would be to that question? Do you think the models did not show the actual model-derived atmospheric maximum temperatures at the time of maximum temperature? Did they think this is of trivial importance and of no interest? Could they not have conveyed some statistically meaningful range, as they did with the time range to maximum temperatures. This is what is bizarre about the R-C paper. And it is exactly the objection I had when this discussion first started and I think that most scientists reading the paper will have.

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      11. For the hundredth time, this is not an ECS scenario. Please don’t comment again until you’ve grasped this.

        They aren’t overturning shit. They’re asking a new question.

        And you seem to be completely acquiescent in this avoidance. Aren’t you a little bit curious what their answer would be to that question? Do you think the models did not show the actual model-derived atmospheric maximum temperatures at the time of maximum temperature? Did they think this is of trivial importance and of no interest? Could they not have conveyed some statistically meaningful range, as they did with the time range to maximum temperatures.

        I can’t even parse this. Are you asking for what the peak temperature was in their simulations? That’s in Figure 1 and in Figure 2, and it’s described in the second paragraph of the Results and discussion section.

        Back up. Breathe. Read the paper again, because it doesn’t seem like you absorbed much the first time.

        Like

      12. sj wrote:
        The title is not ambiguous, it’s specifically talking about warming, and it is completely accurate.

        I guess this is technically true, but I don’t like the message it sends, when the whole truth is not conveyed by the title. In the video abstract accompanying the paper, there is this sentence:

        “Our paper corrects a potential misconception that the largest effects of today’s emissions will only be felt by future generations.”

        Which some would argue is incorrect, as sea level, for example, is considered by some the number one largest effect (Hansen).

        And since the study purports to overturn decades of largely accepted research, why not use something more deferential, humble and cautious, and less provocative like model-study raises questions about timeframe to maximum warming effect from man-made emissions? I mean, it’s only a model study and we know from the ice-modeling how far away they can be from reality.

        Like

      13. sj wrote:
        Back up. Breathe. Read the paper again, because it doesn’t seem like you absorbed much the first time.

        You’re right, I did miss a lot. The delta-T data changes my outlook some. I’ll have to go over this.

        What would really be helpful is links to global annual data for
        CO2 emissions Gt-CO2 or Gt-C
        CO2 concentrations (ppm)
        CO2-e concentrations (ppm)
        Watt/m2 forcing for CO2 and CO2-e

        I’d be much obliged.

        sj wrote:
        For the hundredth time, this is not an ECS scenario. Please don’t comment again until you’ve grasped this.

        I believe you’re wrong about this but I’ll go along with your stricture until I feel I can make my case clearly.

        Taking a breath…

        Like

      14. CO2 emissions Gt-CO2 or Gt-C

        CO2 concentrations (ppm)

        CO2-e concentrations (ppm)

        Don’t have that handy.

        Watt/m2 forcing for CO2 and CO2-e


        Like

      15. Thanks for the links, Scott. I was really looking for data tables that I could easily put into a spreadsheet, but I was ready to resort to charts and reverse engineer if that was all that was available. There’s surprisingly little easy-to-find tabular data. Easy for me to find, anyway. I think I’ve got enough with these, anyway:
        -emissions
        -CO2 ppms
        -forcing and other data
        http://cdiac.ornl.gov/ftp/ndp030/global.1751_2008.ems

        I really should thank you for breaking me out of my funk. I get that way sometimes. LOL
        Reading some really enjoyable Hansen papers. It’s like a book I can’t put down.

        Like

      16. sj wrote:
        You can use tools like this to pull data from plots, if you haven’t found one already: http://arohatgi.info/WebPlotDigitizer/app/

        Great idea! I tried those tools out a long time ago for an automated application and they were unfeasible but for a one off use it beats hell out of what I’ve been using.

        Like

  38. I was thinking C might be the answer. Not great, but not exactly the end of the world.

    “It just means we face very serious problems worthy of serious and well thought-out responses.”

    So, do you think we, mankind, can, as McPherson likes to say, ”Turn this ship around”? Have we really initiated some irreversible feedback loops? How much time do we have before we reach the point of diminishing returns?

    Scott, you’re a good guy. Thank you for time. Have a good evening!

    Like

    1. So, do you think we, mankind, can, as McPherson likes to say, ”Turn this ship around”? Have we really initiated some irreversible feedback loops?

      No, McPherson misunderstands feedbacks, and we can absolutely turn this around. All we have to do is stop increasing atmospheric CO2, and we’ll be in a much, much better position. (Unfortunately, simple does not equal easy in this case…)

      Like

      1. Hah. Indeed, it is not easy. “All we have to do” is all we’ve had to do ever since the severity of this started to become apparent (more than a decade ago?). We still don’t seem to be even close to doing “all we have to do”. A great example of this is how governments (prime ministers, presidents) talk about the threat and talk about targets, yet, at the same time, talk about fracking, oil exploration and “all of the above”. They have no intention of initiating any policies that might adversely impact the holy economic growth. There is no indication that any top down action will be taken and little indication that any significant (i.e. likely to have a global impact) action from the bottom up. Dave Cohen’s blog Decline Of The Empire has explained why we shouldn’t expect action, in equisite detail (the recent mammoth Flatland essays collect it all together). Realising the extreme unlikelihood (aka impossibility) of significant action can be world changing and mind blowing but it still doesn’t reduce to McPherson’s view.

        Like

      2. Right. All we have to do is stop using fossil fuels – which powers our factories, powers our vehicles, paves our roads, heats our homes and fills our landfills with plastics.

        That’s all we have to do.

        Like

      3. Scott, I sometimes wonder if you understand that Homo sapiens is a species, with characteristic behaviour, just like any other species. “All we have to do” and “simple does not equal easy” is not right. What needs to be done is not within the characteristic behaviour of our species. Therefore, it’s impossible. A species can’t act in a way that is not characteristic of that species. For sure, McPherson, at best, misrepresents much of the science on feedbacks even if he does understand them. But I think you misunderstand humans when you say, “we can absolutely turn this around”, implying that humans can act in a way that they have shown no tendency towards. Often (only?) cited is the Montreal Protocol but that’s the exception that proves the rule and was a relatively painless change. There is no way that humans will willingly stop increasing the atmospheric concentration of CO2 or even willingly keep it at whatever it is now (which, as Hansen has shown, is much too high anyway). We have the apparently lauded “commitments” from the US and China, which, even if they were stuck to, would likely keep concentrations increasing for decades longer, when we need to start reducing them.

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    2. Joe Romm has it all figured out:

      Also, I tend to view the crucial next four decades in two phases. In phase 1, 2010 to 2030, the world finally gets serious about avoiding catastrophic global warming impacts (i.e. Hell and High Water). We increasingly embrace a serious price for carbon dioxide and a very aggressive technology deployment effort.
      In phase 2, 2030 to 2050, after multiple climate Pearl Harbors and the inevitable collapse of the Ponzi scheme we call the global economy, the world gets truly desperate, and actions that are not plausible today — including widespread conservation — become commonplace (see here for a description of what that collapse might look like).

      I like this because it’s vividly imagined, an artifact of having spent his whole life studying the problem and working towards solutions. He spent a bunch of years at high levels in government agencies having to do with energy and technology in their relation to the environment. He’s like a post-350ppm thinker. I’d call him a 450ppm-hopeful-realist. It’s hopeful because things could turn out a lot worse—weather-wise. (I’m pretty sure Hansen would say this scenario tempts fate way too much.) He’s a realist because he knows that government is the enemy of change and therefore it’s going to take some severe climate shocks to make inaction impossible.

      Like

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