Science: Doing it Wrong

Once more: McPherson’s methane catastrophe

For better or worse, I want to briefly  return to Guy McPherson’s claims of human extinction within 20 years via a climate catastrophe. Guy is aware of my criticism of his argument, but has declined to consider the problems I pointed out (instead choosing to accuse me of being paid to disagree with him, which would be news to my bank account). Because I’ve seen him reduce his climate claims to the same two keys a few times now, I thought it might actually be worth singling them out for detailed inspection (even though both are mentioned in my previous post, which was a little overwhelming). I’ll try to keep this simple, but the desire to be thorough can make that a challenge…

(Runaway) Train to Siberia

The first claim is that there is an incontrovertible, rapidly accelerating release of methane from the Arctic. (Example here.) McPherson ascribes this to a destabilization of methane hydrates (also called clathrates) in the sediment beneath the Arctic seafloor. Ostensibly, this is based on the research of a team including Natalia Shakhova that has been studying methane release along the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, but McPherson’s claims about that research come from posts on the “Arctic News” blog. This blog, run by a retired petroleum geologist named Malcolm Light and someone writing under the name of Sam Carana, posts a great deal of strange and unscientific claims about earthquakes and methane in the Arctic.

Specifically, McPherson points to a post there interpreting the Shakhova et al. research as indicating an exponentially-growing release of methane from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf. Apart from the fact that two data points can’t  tell you there’s an exponential trend (rather than, say, a straight line), this also makes the mistake of assuming that there are actually two data points! What really happened is that the Shakhova group tried to estimate the total annual emission of methane from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf after observing some plumes above focused release points. (It’s not yet known if these releases have increased recently— the submerged permafrost has been thawing for thousands of years, since sea level rose coming out of the last ice age.) A couple years later, they published a new estimate based on expanded observations. This was a revision of their earlier estimate, now that they had more data in hand. Sam Carana treated these two estimates as independent numbers representing a time series— asserting that the emission of methane had more than doubled in just a few years. From there, Carana extrapolated to predict that emissions would increase about 1,000 times over by 2040. As a result, he/she predicts a cartoonish increase in the global average temperature of 11 C by 2040. (Actual climate models, on the other hand, project a temperature increase of around 4 C by 2100 if we fail to reduce greenhouse gas emissions— and that’s a deeply troubling scenario.)

Actual measurements of methane in the atmosphere don’t show any such sudden, accelerating spike, and climate scientists don’t believe anything like this “clathrate gun” scenario is underway. The Arctic News Blog obsesses over some satellite measurements of methane in the Arctic, believing that they support the claim of runaway methane emissions. (A researcher who worked on validating that satellite dataset confirmed to me that the raw data the blog is using hasn’t been through any quality control algorithm, and that the instrument hasn’t been validated for some of the kinds of conclusions Carana wants to draw.) By showing that some recent measurements of methane in the Arctic are above the global trend, they believe they are demonstrating a sudden increase. This is misguided, because the Arctic is always above the global average. That’s why we calculate averages. If you measure CO2 in the smokestack of a coal-burning power plant and find that it’s much higher than the global average from last week, you can’t conclude that is CO2 suddenly spiking globally. That sort of apples-to-plastic-oranges comparison is meaningless.

So when McPherson claims that “the clathrate gun has fired“, he does so without any evidence whatsoever. Rather, he relies on elementary mistakes made by a blogger who doesn’t appear to understand the science. Not data. And not published research. Not only do climate scientists not think that such a thing is underway, most don’t think it’s likely to be a worry this century.

Do the D-O

The second claim is that Paul Beckwith, a PhD student at the University of Ottawa, predicts 5 – 16 C of global warming within a decade— or, in a softer version, that Beckwith believes such a warming event could occur within a decade in the near future. McPherson continues to make this claim, despite the fact that it has repeatedly been shown to him to be inaccurate. To be fair, Beckwith has stated the second version of this— that such a thing could happen. However, Beckwith also appears to be confused. (I tried several times to get this straightened out with Beckwith, but haven’t had any luck.)

Beckwith has been referring to climatic swings called Dansgaard-Oeschger events identified in Greenland ice cores that occurred every 1,000-2,000 years during glacial periods (“ice ages”). During the abrupt warming phase of these events, the cores record 5-17 C warming in as little as a decade. Following that jump, temperatures gradually dropped over the following centuries. Dramatic as they are, they are not swings in global average temperature, but swings in local Greenland temperature. (This is what ice cores record.) Dansgaard-Oeschger events are terrifically interesting, and there has been a lot of research focused on understanding them. While there are still competing hypotheses for their cause, it’s generally agreed that they involve changes in the large-scale circulation of the Atlantic Ocean— what’s called the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). In the North Atlantic, cooled, salty surface water from the south mixes downward and returns southward at depth. This movement has a large impact on temperatures around the North Atlantic, and the downward mixing that drives the circulation is relatively sensitive, meaning that it can be slowed or jammed up. One way to do that is by increasing the input of freshwater from melting glacial ice, decreasing the density of surface water.

It’s possible that messing with the AMOC could shrink the extent of sea ice off Greenland’s eastern coast, which would help explain the rapid and large temperature shift recorded in the ice cores there. Regardless, the shift would have been largest in Greenland, smaller around the rest of the North Atlantic, with only knock-on effects (mainly in precipitation) beyond that. (That said, CO2 did slowly rise about 10 ppm before some D-O warming events and drop after— a product of ocean circulation change— and methane did increase a couple hundred ppb over a few centuries around them— probably due to wetlands.) The point is that they are not instances of global warming, they are regional events. Noting that Greenland rapidly warmed 5-16 C over one or a few decades in the past does not imply that the entire globe could do the same thing today. In order to change the average global temperature so significantly, you have to alter the planetary balance of incoming and outgoing energy in a big way. That didn’t happen during the Dansgaard-Oeschger warming events. Given that these events seem to entail changes to the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, they’re really not analogous to the greenhouse-gas-induced global warming we’re currently experiencing. They’re certainly not analogous to the methane hydrate catastrophe scenario that McPherson is preaching. Beyond that, there’s likely a good reason they only occurred during glacial periods and aren’t likely to occur now. The latest IPCC report, for example, judges a sudden shutdown of the AMOC this century “very unlikely“.


McPherson seems to think that these two points are his strongest, but there’s really nothing there to support his eschatalogical message of imminent human extinction— and those who aren’t sure what to make of his dire claims should take that into consideration. If we listen to climate scientists, instead, we find more than enough justification for immediate action on climate change without resorting to sci-fi-like exaggeration. And action would be a lot more productive than sitting around waiting for an extinction that isn’t going to show up on the date circled on your calendar.

766 thoughts on “Once more: McPherson’s methane catastrophe

  1. Thanks SJ,
    It is interesting that Guy relies so heavily on methane as the driver of global annihilation when no other serious scientist believes it. One other thing I’ve seen Guy do again and again is to rely on and repeatedly quote the statements of a few psuedo-scientists like the non-existant Sam Carana as well as people the likes of Malcolm Light, Paul Beckwith, Tim Garrett, Natalia Shahkova, Peter Wadhams, a waiter from Queens, a window washer from Guatemala and that guy who saw a UFO in his mirror once. Ok, I’m being a little facetious but you know what I mean.

    I’m sure some of these people are well meaning, some may have a degree or two under their belt, but I dare say if one were to ask any one of them except the make believe Carana and Guy’s crony Light, if we are headed towards near term human extinction within the next century or (two or three), they would balk.

    Guy’s on a one man apocalyptic dream quest. 15 years is all it will take to put one more false prophet behind us.


    1. John,

      I think it shows how ignorant your general viewpoint and commentary is when you use illegitimate comparisons to bunch Tim Garrett, Natalia Shahkova, and Peter Wadhams – excellent scholars with long histories of publications in top-notch peer-reviewed journals – with Malcolm Light, Sam Carana, window washers and UFO watchers. By calling Garrett, Shahkova and Wadhams “psuedo-scientists” you expose the fact that you cannot, sadly, distinguish the true scientists from the false ones.

      Your analysis on this blog is worth about as much as dung on a leaf.

      Good luck posting any more of your brilliant analysis.



      1. There are 2 posters named “John.” I’m the one who understands the difference between Garrett/Shahkova/Wadhams and Light/Carana/et al. And I have nothing against hippies (inside joke).


  2. Interesting, Scott. I’ve been following your other thread but this one caught my attention particularly because I’ve been trying to make some of the same points to Guy but he’s never addressed any points directly. Sam Carana has done some pretty dubious things with graphs on that site, to make situations look as bad as possible (though it’s interesting that he – I think Carana is a male from other comments I’ve seen – doesn’t agree with Guy that the situation is hopeless, just as Beckwith doesn’t). I tried to comment on the graph you mention, on Carana’s blog, but it never got published or answered. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any critical remarks published in that blog. I tried his facebook page to comment on another graph (which extended annual historical emissions with cumulative imaginary methane burp emissions) – the comment got removed. I don’t think Guy has ever defended Carana’s work regarding the specific problems I’ve pointed out, but he continues to use the blog as some kind of evidence. I seem to remember Beckwith also saying that the exponential curve fit against two data points (even if they were data points) is not good maths.

    If you want to try and get some clarification from Beckwith then you should try emailing him. I did that in trying to clarify his thinking on the 5-6C temp rise in one to two decades and he said my understanding (that he thinks it could happen but hasn’t given a specific prediction over when) is about right. Having said that, he does think abrupt climate change is under way (and that’s what he’s working on) and it wouldn’t surprise him to see such a rapid rise over the near term.

    For reference, here is a link to a Guy McPherson comment that references this post. If he publishes my answer let me clarify that I think you should try to avoid any personally disparaging words (e.g. “preaching”) or incorrect information (e.g. all of his information on methane releases doesn’t come from Carana’s blog, though he does reference that a lot). In this way, you would avoid any claims that you are attacking him personally, instead of the evidence or analysis.


    1. I thought I had a conversation going with Paul on that and a couple other points via Twitter, but then I stopped hearing back.

      It seemed to me that all Guy’s assertions about the current/near future state of affairs lead back to Carana and Light. Have I missed something? I could change my wording if that’s the case.

      I know that there is absolutely nothing I could write at this point that Guy wouldn’t call “ad hom” and ignore, so I’m not too worried about that. (If Guy posted a picture of a brown tabby cat and said, “This is a calico cat,” and I quoted him while saying that was an incorrect description, he would probably accuse me of “shooting the messenger” and being on the payroll of Big Tabby.) I don’t think I’ve written anything inaccurate here, or anything that open-minded visitors will feel is a personal dig.


      1. All I’m saying, Scott, is that disparaging remarks, even the weak ones you use, are simply not needed (though I understand the temptation) and add nothing to the explanation. Yes, no doubt Guy could imagine an ad-hominem in anything but don’t give him the ammunition. As for the methane releases he doesn’t get all of his information from Carana’s blog (even if he does rely on that for a lot of his “evidence”). His mammoth essay that the responded to in the other post does make a number of references to other sources, including peer reviewed papers, though one could take issue with how he’s reading some of that.


      2. I hear you, I just feel like I didn’t do any of that here. I also don’t want to sanitize my language to the point of not communicating clearly, just for the off chance that one or two people will like it better that way. We should be able to talk, and understand each other, like adults.

        To take your example, I don’t write “preaching” with some mean connotation. If having a message that you actively take to radio and TV platforms, and fly around the world to spread, isn’t well-described as “preaching”, I don’t know what it is. (Okay, being a pastor in a church would also qualify.)

        Fair enough point about methane. While I still think Carana & Light’s posts form the entire basis of his argument, he does link to other things (that he treats as supporting the Carana-and-Light nonsense, though they don’t). I’ll clarify.


  3. Surprising, I listened to Guy’s latest interview on a program called Global Collapse Radio and wow, has he ever painted himself into a corner this time. Now he’s saying not only have we initiated 46 (count them) self reinforcing feedback loops (maybe he counts the increase in things like car accidents or bankruptcies as proof, I don’t know), but that he believes that extinction of life on earth could happen within the next 2 years! You read that right. He also pointed to the low price of oil as proof of doom. Gosh, a couple of years ago, the high price of oil meant Peak Oil and thus doom. Now it’s the low price of oil. Doesn’t sound too peaky to me. You know, for those so inclined, anything and everything spells doom.

    I feel bad for Guy. What are people going to do when they find out they’ve been had? How many couples have decided not to have children, take that job, buy that home because this so-called scientist told them it’s pointless?

    I don’t get it, this hero worship of people with a degree (and I have one)? Just when did we replace preachers with scientists? Why do people believe that a degree makes someone infallible? It might be an idea for the rest of us to realize that scientists put their pants on one leg at a time just like the rest of us. Scientists differ in their personal opinions just as much as everyone else. Just because McPherson has a degree doesn’t mean whatever comes out of his mouth is Holy Writ. He still just a dude.

    Guy, really, scale it back.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. sj wrote:
    Apart from the fact that you can’t fit an exponential curve to only two data points (which, remember your geometry classes, can only define a straight line)

    I believe the geometry theorem is that two points can only define one straight line.

    If you assume Carana was thinking “exponential growth”, then:

    Given two points, say, 1.5 and 6.2 and knowing how many time intervals separate them, say 3 years, there is only one exponent (x) for which 1.5 * x * x * x = 6.2.

    1.5 * (x^3) = 6.2
    x^3 = 6.2 / 1.5
    x^3 = 4.1333
    x = 1.604846


    1.5 * 1.604846 = 2.40727
    2.40727 * 1.604846 = 3.863298
    3.863298 * 1.604846 = 6.2

    Can I prove that there is only one solution for x? Probably quicker than I can prove what you remember from geometry class.

    Mind you, I’m not supporting Sam Carana’s argument. But I think the appropriate objection would be the rationale for his choice of exponential over any other type of progression. I also agree it’s hard to have a progression with not even two data points!


    1. What you’re describing could just as well be done with one data point, or even none. It’s a big “what if?” Carana’s post does not present it as “Hey, what if the emissions increased exponentially? I suppose it would look something like this, just for sake of argument.” Guy certainly doesn’t present those extrapolations as what-ifs— he thinks they’re incontrovertible. The poor people he frequently shows them to could just as well have the impression that the curve is observed.

      Your example uses a cubic function. You could use x^2 or x^4. (An exponential trendline is actually e^x.) Extrapolate that forward a couple decades and you’re going to get vastly different results. (And nature is not obliged to follow your arbitrary calculation.) None of them would have any physical tie to reality other than the starting point, which quickly becomes irrelevant. Look at this thing and tell me it’s not a cartoon:

      With only two points, you have absolutely no mathematical basis to conclude anything but a linear trend. Extrapolation is the real problem here, and the higher the power of your trendline, the more wildly inaccurate your extrapolation can become.


      1. Honestly, what amazes me is that serious minded people are wasting their time discussing McPherson at all. The guy is a joke. Just because he has a degree, that necessitates a rebuttal whenever he declares something new. Really, there are people everywhere and in every country who everyday say whatever pops in their heads and few take them seriously. But because McPherson has a degree, he can send everyone into a tumble because he said so and so is going to happen. I’d be interested in seeing something on how many other ‘scientists’ have made fallacious claims and what happened to them. It’d be quite a list I’ll wager.

        I understand where you’re coming from SJ, climate is your field and because some people believe what he has to say, you feel impelled to correct McPherson’s phony science. I put it to you that those so inclined will find something to fill that apocalyptic desire, McPherson or someone else. I wouldn’t let this particular charlatan consume too much of your physical resources. For whatever it’s worth.

        Hey Guy, BAU. Have a nice day.


    2. sj wrote:
      Your example uses a cubic function.

      It’s not a cubic function. That would be

      y = x^3

      and the series, for integers, say, would be

      1, 8, 27, 64, 125…

      which is not progressing at a constant percentage from value to value.
      In my example, the equation is y = 1.604846^x, and the seires would be

      1.5 * (1.604846)^1, 1.5 * (1.604846)^2, 1.5 * (1.604846)^3, 1.5 * (1.604846)^4, ….


      1.5, 2.407, 3.863, 16.2, 9.95, 15.97, 25.627, 41.127, …

      It means the y value is growing 60.485% per year. I could just as easily have chosen two points that would initiate a shallow curve, say, 1.00 and 1.05 at a distance of 5 years apart. Solving,

      1.00 * (x^5) = 1.05
      x^5 = 1.05
      x = 1.05^0.2
      x = 1.009805798
      and the series would be

      1, 1.009805798, 1.019707749, 1.029706797, 1.039803893, 1.05, ….

      The value is growing by 0.98% per year. It’s the exact same thing as compound interest from a bank. It’s the same multiplier every year (the interest rate), but the multiplicand (the value of your account) keeps growing.

      3 exponential curves, growing at 1%, 5 % and 10%:

      The 10%, 5% and 1% curves double after 7, 14 and 70 years.

      The 1% curve is the same one used for the transient warming projection where atmospheric CO2 concentration doubles after 70 years.

      sj wrote:
      An exponential trendline is actually e^x.

      y = e^x is a special case of an exponential function with special mathematical properties.

      sj wrote:
      With only two points, you have absolutely no mathematical basis to conclude anything but a linear trend.

      You can hypothesize anything you want as long as you provide some logic. He could say the rate of increase of methane release will depend on seabed temperature and that in turn will depend largely on sea ice extent and that is decreasing exponentially, therefore we will see an exponential increase in methane release. It’s a hypothesis and he can demonstrate graphically with an exponential curve.

      He might add to that, that once methane reaches a certain level in the regional arctic atmosphere, it will induce further heating and even more acceleration in methane release and use a more aggressive curve.

      It’s not the choice of curve or the extrapolation, but the logic and the timeline. Eventually, if heating continues, the methane is going to let go and it’s not going to be pretty. The timeline is what is in question. An exponential curve can ramp very slowly at first, and for many years will be overshadowed by natural variation. 2012 (extreme ice loss) vs 2013 and 2014 (ice rebounds). But the planet is warming and the trend for ice is down, and methane release will increase. Have we reached a tipping point with methane release? I don’t think anyone would say that other than maybe GM and a few other wishful thinkers. If we stop putting CO2 in the air, there’s a chance we won’t get to that tipping point but we’re cutting it close.


      1. Bill,

        It makes sense to me as well that warming and a subsequent loss of ice would presage an increase in the release of methane depending on the rate of the melt. Kind of like opening the lid on a bottle of soda. My question is this, who says the arctic is melting at a rate greater than it refreezes each year? That the loss is getting worse (as you said, it rebounded after 2012). From what I’ve read, I don’t think there is any real proof that were losing ice faster than it’s being replaced when the weather turns cold again. It’s natural that ice will melt when it warms and refreeze when it get’s cold again. Nothing scary about that. That’s the way it’s always been, always will be.

        Other than the usual crowd, does anyone really believe the arctic is melting long term? If so, then eventually we’re going to have a methane problem. If not, so what’s for dinner?


      2. There are many different kinds of ice (and regions containing it) you could be talking about. Sea ice, glaciers, permafrost… All those are shrinking as the Arctic is warming considerably. That’s not arguable. (Sea ice didn’t “rebound” in the sense that it’s done with the whole declining thing. It had a couple up years.

        This seafloor methane hydrate thing is a separate question, and one to which timescale and rates are very important.


      3. John, the arctic is feeling climate change the most—warming 2-3 times faster than the global average. This is because of the large effect on albedo from ice loss. The dark sea absorbs heat, snow and ice reflect it. The albedo effect from losing all the sea ice would be like doubling CO2 levels from where we are now. Not to mention the thousands of gigatons of carbon beneath the permafrost. It’s not a joke. Walruses, Polar Bears are feeling it as are the people who live up there. Climate change is speculative down here, but unavoidable up there. Some charts of sea ice:

        You have to go back possibly millions of years to find a time when sea ice was at this level. Certainly not within the last 10 or 20 thousand years. Measuring by volume, we had lost 80% of the arctic sea ice at the end of summer, 2012.
        The first graph is from a SciAm article which I haven’t read, but it probably can give you a good perspective:
        I also liked this lecture by Will Steger, an arctic adventurer who knows what’s going on:


      4. Don’t forget that Arctic sea ice extent was low (possibly less than today) during the Holocene Climatic Optimum around 8,000 years ago, when temperatures were around today’s.


    3. Bill Shockley, what if the second “data point” was actually on the way down from a spike? That is, the curve was flattening or decreasing? Apart from that, nothing in the real world would follow some idealised curve exactly, so there is a best fit to be done. However, despite all of this Carana was using two estimates (the second made after more areas had been visited but with no area revisited) which he imagined were actual data points on a time line, using two separate estimates as data points is invalid anyway, so it’s pointless even showing that he might have fitted a potentially valid line.


      1. My objection was sj’s assertion that exponential functions require more than two points two define. Depends, perhaps, how you define “exponential function”, but if you use the common type that I believe Carana was using, it only requires two “y” values, a known “x” distance apart.

        There was a lot of confusion about what Shakhova’s actual data was, and this has only been clarified recently, as far as Scott’s blog goes. Carana was confused as well, regarding the two supposed data points that were really only one data point, modified by later research.

        In Carana’s defense, there was also Shakhova’s and Semiletov’s gut feeling, from knowing the ESAS area well, over a long period, that the observations of large and intense plumes were something new—an emergent phenomenon, and I think those reported feelings fueled Carana’s desire to plot an accelerating trend. Specifically, the trend was in place for some amount of time before it became noticeable and drew attention. This is part of the reason why looking for an exponential fit is reasonable. It’s the same with the sea ice chart. The ice didn’t just start declining rapidly one particular year. The forces gradually gathered and the trend gradually became noticeable.


      2. My objection was sj’s assertion that exponential functions require more than two points two define.

        Maybe I can alter my wording to make this clearer. Obviously, you can run an exponential curve through two points, just as you can run it through one point. The point is that applying a best-fit exponential line to two data points when you know nothing else about the trend is madness; extrapolating that far ahead doubly-so. I’ve flipped my wording for you, to “Apart from the fact that two data points can’t tell you there’s an exponential trend…”


      3. I’m not sure why you’d defend Carana for meaningless graphs. My feeling is that he wasn’t confused but always tries to show a worse situation than reality to garner support for his climate plan which has attracted very little support in two years. He has a history of putting together dodgy graphs but persists in using them. Guy seems to swallow them, for some reason.


      4. As true as what you say may be, I’m learning to like accuracy and completeness in reporting. Besides being truer, it’s also more interesting.


  5. SJ and Bill,

    That IS an interesting chart SJ. It shows quite a rebound after 2012 but still an apparent downward trend. Rather steep at that. I’d suggest that the drop looks something like a classic tipping point. Something’s got to melting that ice. Warming, I suppose. Ok, for some reason the atmosphere is warming or perhaps the ground beneath. Another event like that for which the Siberian Traps are renown would probably have a dilitarious effect on the ice and a possible subsequent release of methane.

    If nothing else describes CC, yes, sea ice loss long term is unsettling. Only because of the methane, at this point, I’m not convinced that ice loss will have a particularly negative effect on sea levels. I understand that methane released beneath deep water is not a problem as it dissolves into the water. Perhaps it might be a problem in an acidic context but unimportant as far as the atmosphere is concerned unless, I suppose, it’s released at scale or in shallow water. A ‘methane burp’, Incidentally, if we’re talking about methane, might not a ‘methane fart’ be a better analogy? Sorry about that.

    This is one example of CC that I can agree with. Obviously because it can be observed and compared to ice cores. So then, if the Arctic is indeed warming faster than the rest of the planet, it doesn’t seem too difficult to project forward to a time when there will be far less and play a part in the release of the methane beneath. If scientists can calculate the height of sea level raises by the amount of ice melted, certainly they must have an idea of how much ice is there. I’ve heard estimates of the amount of methane beneath the waves and the permafrost. Shahkova made mention that it wouldn’t take more than 1% of that methane to dissociate to double the amount of carbon in the atmosphere . She went on, as you know, to suggest that expecting only 1% of the ice to dissociate is rather a fantasy. That’s obvious.

    So, perhaps it might be an idea for serious scientists to model ice thickness against a warming timescale (knowing how much ice is there and how quickly it’s warming) to arrive at a time when the ice will melt sufficently to begin to release the methane beneath.

    I’ve read that at least one of the past several extinction events was probably methane related. Maybe all of them. If that’s true, clearly it wasn’t a one off. It’s a smoking gun. It will probably happen again after the ice has melted sufficiently. Hopefully someone is looking into that.


    1. A few things: loss of sea ice has a near-zero effect on sea level, because it’s already floating. (Like ice cubes melting in your drink don’t cause it to overflow.) It’s the loss of land ice (glaciers) and the slight expansion of seawater as it warms that is behind sea level rise. (We’ve actually also made a contribution by depleting groundwater aquifers.)

      Don’t forget that sea ice isn’t the same as permafrost below the Siberian shelf seafloor or the actual methane hydrates themselves. The loss of sea ice will cause the Arctic Ocean to warm more, which eventually adds to the thaw of ice beneath the seafloor, but that takes time. There has been lots of research into how long it takes warming to penetrate, how quickly hydrates dissociate as a result, etc. Some of the links in this post can give you an indication of that.


  6. An article from National Geographic,

    Climate Mission Impossible: Scientists Say Fossil Fuels Must Go Untapped

    “Canada’s tar sands need to stay in the ground, the oil beneath the Arctic has to remain under the sea, and most of the world’s coal must be left untouched in order to prevent global temperatures from rising more than 2°C, a study released Wednesday says…

    “These emissions must remain within a “carbon budget” of about 1,100 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide by 2050 to meet the internationally accepted goal of limiting the rise in temperatures to 2°C (3.6°F) above preindustrial levels, according to the United Nations-led Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. To do that, countries must slash their use of fossil fuels.

    “Absent a dramatic global policy shift, such as a universal tax on carbon emissions, the study seems to suggest that the 2°C goal is far out of reach…

    “Of course, the real world is on a very different trajectory. The International Energy Agency has projected that the world’s total carbon budget will be exceeded ten years earlier than the 2050 benchmark. The demand for energy, and therefore for fossil fuels, continues to grow.

    “The study also casts a shadow on carbon capture and storage (CCS), hailed as the technology that will let us have our fossil fuels and burn them too by reducing smokestack emissions. According to the analysis, CCS would allow only a relatively small increase—at most 6 percent—in the amount of fossil fuel that could be burned while still preventing catastrophic warming.”


  7. Pretty good critical analysis SJ… Guy McPherson is an excellent orator, lecturer, and therefore as credible as it gets on a stage. But his writing, facts, and debating skills are less impressive, and becoming more and more vulnerable to a near-term expiry date… (scuse the near-pun)


    1. Upon reflection, I think it only right to correct a mistake I made at Guy McPherson’s expense. I don’t mean to suggest that I believe Guy’s doctrine of near term human extinction. I’m a skeptic at heart, one of those who have to be dragged kicking and screaming to a conclusion. Those who’ve read my posts here would probably agree with that. I’ve been one of Guy’s harshest critics. For my part, I think I’ve done Guy an injustice.

      I’ve been angry at his message because I simply don’t want to believe that there is even a chance that he might be right. But I haven’t noticed his underlying message. Bothered to notice, I should say. I could have but I didn’t want to. Decency. I do believe that Guy is in error when it comes to climate change but I think, from what I’ve read, that the man is just sick and tired of human greed, hate (so many) and phony nobility at the expense of our fellow man, the other living beings we share this planet with and the earth itself. I think what Guy wants is simply a better world rather than a dead one. And he doesn’t see that happening under man. I can understand that. It doesn’t… damn, I’ll just call it. It’s not happening.

      I don’t agree with Guy’s assessment about NTHE, at least not yet, though I suppose that could change as the future of Climate Change unfolds, and I don’t agree with his statements about industrial collapse when people could be hurt by such, but I think I’m getting a better handle on the guy. I hope I’m right in this.

      Having just read a post of Guy’s, I have to agree with his final prognosis about the condition of man,

      “As individuals, it can be different. As individuals, we can seek freedom from the straitjacket of culture. We can seek love over power, relationships over accomplishments, and better over more. A high price will be paid for such pursuits, however. There will be no reward beyond freedom from insanity, which comes with the prevailing sentiment that the sane are insane. As Krishmurti pointed out, ‘“it is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”’

      Sadly, I agree.


      1. Guy would have liked a nicer world, certainly, but I don’t see that as an underlying message but rather a strand of some of his blogging and writing. His underlying message is that humans, and most other species will go extinct within possibly 20 years (any maybe 2 years, depending on events). He keeps saying he wants to be wrong but never engages his serious critics directly. His approach is no better than that of deniers since both can reasonably result in no action to alter behaviours.

        That we have a sick society, I have no argument with.


      2. I agree with you Mike. I think Guy sees man as a cancer that’s ravaging the earth. We are rather, aren’t we? And perhaps he thinks extinction is the only cure. It’s IS something like killing the patient rather trying to cure him, I suppose. I’m guessing what’s driving Guy’s crusade is a deep frustration with the nature of man. Wars, corruption, destruction of the earth.

        I was awake for awhile during the night mulling this over. I mean, think about it. We live on a planet of really extraordinary beauty. As far as we know, the only planet in this universe to harbor life and in such abundance. Certainly the only planet mankind will ever inhabit. And yet we chop down it’s forests, level it’s mountains, spoil it’s atmosphere and dump a liberal dose of poison into it’s oceans, and for what? Money. And when we collectively realize that we’re pushing life to the edge, we talk about terra forming a dead planet and one day moving en masse there. Where we’d probably start the whole process all over again. We’d dump this still living world to try to make a go on a dead one. Is that sane?

        Like I said, I may not believe Guy’s statements about abrupt CC, but I think I’m finally understanding his frustration.

        And thank you SJ for your decency in allowing us all to vent once in a while. Take care.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Interesting chart on population growth.

    According to the chart, it took a couple million years for population to grown to 1 billion in 1804. Took 123 years for it to grow to 2 billion in 1927. 33 years to grow to 3 billion in 1960. 14 years for it to grow to 4 billion in 1974. 13 years for it to grow to 5 billion in 1987. 12 years for it to make it to 6 billion in 1999. 13 years for it to grow to 7 billion in 2012. 12 years for it to be projected to grow to 8 billion in 2024. And then suddenly it takes 24 years to grow an additional billion at 9 billion. in 2048. Wishful thinking?


    1. If you look into the details, you’ll find that there are trends in developing countries that make extrapolation of the last century unwise. So that downward bending of the curve is there for a reason— which is, of course, no guarantee of accuracy.


    1. Ugh, Dahr Jamail. He seems to publish a lot of McPherson stuff (including a recent interview). This just seems like a re-hashing of the things we see published time and time again from McPherson/AMEG acolytes. He tries to make it sound like Yurganov is saying something new and scary, when he’s not. He tries to make it seem like Leifer, too, is saying something new and scary, when he’s not. (And no, I don’t suspect this is conscious twisting. I think Jamail just doesn’t understand.) Shakhova says what Shakhova usually says. Beckwith says what Beckwith always says.

      But here’s a neat trick:

      A study published in the prestigious journal Nature in July 2013 confirmed what Shakhova has been warning us about for years: that a 50-gigaton “burp” of methane from thawing Arctic permafrost beneath the East Siberian sea is “highly possible at anytime.”

      That study is the much-panned Wadhams paper that asserts that methane burp as a scenario. Where does the scenario come from? An assertion in a Shakhova paper. Even if this wasn’t a circular argument, the Wadhams paper doesn’t “confirm” shit, it just says it could happen and then talks about the hypothetical economic consequences.

      Another sleight of hand:

      Even the relatively staid Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned of such a scenario…

      Yeah. And says it’s “very unlikely” this century.

      There’s nothing in the rest of the post.

      Anything specific catch your eye?


      1. SJ – “But here’s a neat trick”

        This kind of trick is very common on TV documentaries, talk shows and ‘The News’. We hear phrases like, “what if” or “but suppose” or “is it possible”. Probably just about anything is possible, but how likely is it? Today we call it ‘Reporting’. In the past it was called, Yellow Journalism.


      2. ‘”This means that probability of dissolved methane to escape from the water column to the atmosphere is from three to 10 times greater than anywhere in the world’s oceans,” Shakhova said.’

        And what is the probability of the rest of the world’s oceans doing that? Are we going from 0.3 percent to 0.9-3%? 5% to 15-50%?


      3. Good question. Don’t know. I don’t know if she was just comparing depths or referring to some other kind of analysis.


      4. Scott,

        Thanks for that. The McPherson influence can be observed in the couple of references to “runaway feedback loops”.

        I have to call disingenuousness of the McPherson kind when Dahr Jamail says that “US Navy researchers have predicted periods of an ice-free Arctic ocean in the summer by 2016”. The November 2013 article he links to, (although the headline misleads in the same way) actually says that “By the summer of 2016, the Arctic Ocean could be ice-free”. It also says that 2016 is ‘at “the lower bound” of the current range of projections’ (no “upper bound” is provided), while even a team member of the US Navy’s Regional Arctic System Model project calls 2016 “an aggressive interpretation” of RASM.

        Taken together with the “neat trick” and the “sleight of hand” you revealed I think it’s fair to deduce that Dahr Jamail isn’t just confused or naïve.

        But at least in the comment section there is noticeable pushback specifically on methane hydrates from non-deniers of AGW.


      5. The 2016 Navy thing is a constant source of confusion with that gang, which can be traced back to a bad post by Nafeez Ahmed (which probably goes back to the bad article stub you’re quoting). He wrote about how the Navy’s fancy new top-of-the-line sea ice model was predicting this, but that model was still in development and hadn’t run any predictions. The 2016 date came from an extrapolation exercise in a paper from the same person. I tried to ask Beckwith for a citation to back this up but that conversation died, too. I haven’t found any published or presented RASM forward runs that producing such a prediction.


      6. I think 2016 was originally cited as a possibility 10 years ago. To talk about predicting an ice-free Arctic Ocean in September 2016 now, especially given the weather-dependence of the ice extent, is silly. I can’t imagine Dahr Jamail wouldn’t know that.


    2. Beckwith’s position seems to have changed a little and he appears to be predicting 5-6C rise within a decade or two, rather than a 5-6C rise is possible over some 10-20 year period in the future. However, he also says that abrupt climate change is in its early stages. What does that even mean? It’s either abrupt or it isn’t. Maybe he’s talking in geologic time frames.


      1. I like Beckwith. For one thing, he likes cats. You can’t go wrong with an animal lover. For another, he’s sincere.

        But is he really a climate scientist? His specialty seems to be particle physics. More, according to NASA, methane is not a problem at this point. If the climate actually does begin to warm one day, enough to melt some ice, I can see that being a concern. Big if. If the martians invade one day, that’ll be a concern too. Until then, not going to worry about it.


      2. He’s a PhD student in climate science, though I don’t know what his actual dissertation topic is. I believe an interest in climate change brought him back to school after working in physics/engineering.

        And no, I could never hate on a fellow cat lover, either.

        I just wish he wasn’t pushing these claims far and wide.


  9. SJ, I’m always happy to meet another cat person! : )

    I’ve written to Beckwith in the past and he’s been kind enough to answer me every time. It usually takes awhile but he’s good to his word. A good guy. As far as AMEG, I suppose he’s all in and maybe he has his reasons. I know he’s seen some climatic changes where he lives, I wonder if he’s ever seen any thing like arctic melting or if he’s just going along with Peter Wadhams and Co?

    I know this isn’t the forum but I gotta say this, I was a little upset (putting it mildly) when, in looking for information on design, I came across what seems to be a new trend amongst kids in several countries. Apparently recording kitten mutilations is becoming ‘a thing’. Yeah. Won’t go into the horror that I saw, but I gotta say, if cruelty is the trait that makes us human, and history says it is, bring on the CC.


  10. Just for the record: I skimmed the comments on Guy’s blog last night (I know, I know, I couldn’t help myself) and found Guy making quite the claim about me. “Johnson admits he is ignorant about biology, ecology, and climate science. His writing certainly provides support, especially lately.” Failing to recall having said such a thing, I left a comment asking Guy to stop lying about me. Shortly after, my comment disappeared. Imagine that…


    1. Hey Guy (I’m sure you skim Scott’s blog as well, perfectly understandable) are personal attacks the finest way to address global extinction? Is that living a life of excellence? Go out with your head held high. If you’re right, there’s no need to attack anyone, time will bear it out. And soon if your correct.

      Climate science is a dynamic field, new information coming along every single day and none of it good. Instead of relying on the same 2 or 3 tired old quotes every single time you speak, put new information on the table. Put your money where your mouth is. If we’re really as close as 2 years countdown till the end, you must be able to ferret out a little more than that.

      Instead we hear the same old phrases time and time again, “I suspect that it’s too late to turn this ship around” and “There’ve been no humans on earth above 3.5 C” (so what? I’ve never living in Paris. Does that mean I’ll die if I move there?) and the ever present “Set of living arrangements” and complaining about people who “disparage my work”. C’mon Guy, what work is that? Quoting other person’s work is not the same as doing the science yourself. Be honest.

      If you’re really just a dispassionate doctor relaying relevant information to a dying patient, why ignore the information that contradicts you? You’re the Professor Emeritus. SJ has been able to back up what he says, why can’t you?


      1. SJ, I have a question I’ve wanted to ask for awhile now having nothing to do with CC. Does space (outer space) exert a drag on a mass, like say the Voyager space craft after it’s left the gravitational pull of our solar system? Deep space.. I’ve heard of dark matter, the fabric of space, ect. I’m wondering how much effect it would have on a space craft in deep space? Would the craft eventually slow down because of that drag or is the drag so minute that it would keep moving forever unless it encountered some mass? If you have time and don’t mind posting this, I’d be interested. Thanks!


      2. That’s a good question, and not one I’m very well-equipped to answer. I mean, even interstellar space isn’t completely devoid of molecules, but I would imagine that it’s not enough to slow a spacecraft significantly. My guess is that the effect is small enough that you might encounter some body’s gravity before it becomes important. I don’t think dark matter would factor in, but then we don’t know what dark matter is… I’ll ask someone who knows better.


    2. Scott,

      Yes, you spotted the thread. I’d been trying, in vain, to explain to Guy (who lectured in science, once) why this graphic from Sam Carana was bad (I won’t clutter the comment with the image). In the graphic, Carana combines data from 4 separate data series, including the last one from a single reading of Metop-1 in September (a high methane month of the year) at a single atmospheric level. Sadly, I gave him a reason to attack me because I’d linked to what was then the latest graphic and quoted from it. The sad bit is that the graphic at the link changes every day or two as the images cycle through, with only the 3 most recent days available to the public. So the graphic had changed by the time Guy looked at it then accused me of misquoting the graphic, which was by that time a different graphic. He ignored my explanation and accused me of cherry picking, failing to notice that that’s what Carana did!

      I’ve tried to post another comment, since the graphic changed again and even Guy’s quote from it is wrong. I wanted an apology, too, but that comment hasn’t gone up. At least not yet – the delay in publishing an earlier comment is what gave Guy something to grasp at, as the graphic changed in that time.

      On the comments, you may not have noticed that your comment seems to appear but, at the top of the comment, it says something like “awaiting moderation” – at least mine do (maybe I’m a marked man. The comment may really appear later, though the article you linked to has now closed for comments, so it’s probably not going to appear now.

      Guy’s championing of Carana even when Carana’s charts are blatant manipulation is truly bizarre for someone with as much intelligence as Guy clearly has. It seems that doesn’t stop one from being really stupid, sometimes.

      By the way, I’ve tried to leave many comments at Carana’s blog. Only one, which was non-critical, ever made it. I’ve also had comments removed from his Facebook page.


      1. I noticed that exchange. Your patience impresses. Has Guy ever responded with anything but an insult? I find it incredible (in the literal sense) that Guy doesn’t understand you can’t pin a point measurement on the end of a series of global, annual averages. I thought for sure he would only refer to these shoddy things because he didn’t take the time to notice that they were shoddy. But in fact, he seems to fail to understand why they’re shoddy, and this is rudimentary stuff. A high school student should be able to tell you why that graph is meaningless. It’s really no different from claiming that global warming has suddenly jumped because yesterday was really warm on a beach in Ecuador compared to last year’s global annual average.

        (You may be a marked man- I haven’t noticed a moderation label. I actually posted in a fresher thread that is still open, so I know I didn’t just end up in limbo.)

        I took this opportunity to illustrate the ills of extrapolation:
        I digitized some points along the IPCC figure and played around with a few configurations of forward-run trendlines.


      2. Nice PDF, Scott. Yes, Carana is a piece of work. It’s amazing how people like Carana and McPherson (and the late Michael C Ruppert – not sure if Robert Scribbler is also in there) attract a certain following that thinks everything that they utter must be right (even though much is contradictory over time) and anyone who dares to disagree gets short shrift. I don’t recall a straight answer from Guy and most (all?) contain an insult or put-down. I did notice slightly less insulting language as the exchanges wore on, which might have been my imagination.

        I don’t like descending to the same level because I know it will gain nothing (even if staying patient gains nothing either) and at least I can say that I don’t fling insults and no-one will be able to point to comments where I did (or at least find it very hard – I may succumb on the odd occasion).

        Hah, you could be right about my being a marked man. I had thought that moderation had kicked in for everyone (I seem to recall McPherson advertising for a moderator not too long ago) but it seems not.


      3. Whether it’s science or not depends on the logic that dictated and justified the choice of function, i.e., exponential, power, polynomial, etc.

        Polynomials are tricky since they can capture contours but can also completely reverse direction (i.e., increasing to decreasing). I doubt Carana is using polynomials in his charts. You don’t provide links to the original posts so it’s hard to evaluate your analysis. Here’s a short discussion on using excel’s trendline tools:

        I have never used excel’s statistical tools, preferring to do the math myself. I feel like I get a better feel for the numbers that way.


  11. Thanks SJ, I know climate is your speciality but I had to ask. I was wondering, if a spacecraft, even one propelled by conventional fuel in applied short bursts, moving in deep space away from any gravitational pull, which is more than 99.99+ percent of space, if nothing exerts tug to slow it down, wouldn’t it continue to speed up under that propulsion?

    For instance, if I was floating somewhere in deep space, and I threw a baseball, would anything (absent gravitation) slow it down or would it continue to speed up until it’s reached the speed of light?

    Nasa’s New Horizon’s spacecraft to Pluto is now travelling at 10 miles per second thanks to a gravitational assist from Jupiter. I don’t know how fast Voyager is travelling now that it’s outside our solar system, but I wonder if there were enough fuel to give it a boost occasionally, would it continue to accelerate and if so, why wouldn’t it eventually reach the speed of light?

    I think what I’m trying to ask is why the baseball I threw would slow down and not continue to accelerate if nothing is there to slow it down and if it does continue to accelerate, why not to the speed of light? Or at least to a much faster speed than anything we’ve been able to achieve before? I’m asking because that’s the only way man could theoretically ever reach the stars, except, of course for the incredible distances and the infinite other problems that would entail.


    1. I’m not crazy.

      If your thrusters were constantly burning, then yes, you would accelerate. But if your thrusters are off, then you’re going to travel at constant speed (zero acceleration). It takes work to change your speed.

      I see in this Q&A that Voyager is described as traveling at constant speed- about 38,000 MPH.

      The extreme velocity of light means that the amount of energy required to accelerate there is just beyond anything we could practically do.


      1. Thank you again SJ!

        See, I thought if a ship started accelerating in deep space, thrusters or what not, without any negative drag from gravity, why wouldn’t it continue to accelerate until maximum velocity was reached, what would slow it down? I guess I’m asking for a perpetual motion machine.

        “The extreme velocity of light means that the amount of energy required to accelerate there is just beyond anything we could practically do.”

        Yeah, I was thinking that too. I’m guessing 10 miles a second is about as good as we’ll ever achieve absent a bigger planet than Jupiter. Well, not going to the stars, we’d might want to make a better go of it right here.

        By the way, I get that same “awaiting moderation” every time I post a comment here. Am I marked too?


      2. By the way, I get that same “awaiting moderation” every time I post a comment here. Am I marked too?

        Ha, no, that’s just the way I have the comments work on my blog. Nothing posts until I click OK.

        Newton’s First Law of Motion says that an object at rest stays at rest, and an object in motion continues at constant velocity, unless an external force acts on them. So you can’t accelerate without applying a force (thrusters).


      3. John, increasing velocity increases mass. As you get close to the speed of light, your mass would approach infinity. It takes infinite energy to accelerate an infinite mass.

        There’s a more scientific explanation somewhere, no doubt, but I think that’s the gist of it.


  12. Yeah. Like it or not, I guess there are just some things we really can’t overcome. Like the laws of physics.

    Wouldn’t that be something if somehow one day we WERE able to figure life of some kind on some distant planet, a kind of souped up Interferometer or something but we could never reach the planet? Will never. I think in the most interesting ways, man will have to content himself with science fiction. Unless black holes (or the popular nomenclature, wormholes) really did open up distant parts of the galaxy and we could actually pass through one without taking on the weight of a small sun and the size if a grain of sand. Then all we would have to do is reach the wormhole within the timescale an average species like us is expected to live.


    PS. I hear 2014 was yet another ‘hottest year’. I wonder if this is going to keep up.


  13. Wow, Scott, I just had a look at your twitter page. You do get your share of spite. Everything is political these days. Dang. Don’t let it get to you.


  14. I just spotted an interesting new paper that relates to this claim of Beckwith’s and McPherson’s that Earth warmed 5C in 13 years during the Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). That claim came from one paper, which immediately had several published comments challenging it:
    (And anyway, that paper was looking at the change in carbon isotopes- representing the change in atmospheric CO2/CH4, not the temperature response to that change.)

    That was a surprise because the consensus from lots of other studies is that this release of carbon played out over thousands of years. The interpretation of a 13 year time span came from the interpretation of layering in their core. They believed they could assume that the sediment layers they were looking at were annual (which can happen in certain environments), and the carbon isotope shift occurred across 13 layers. Others, however, believed that the layering in the core was created during the drilling process, as chunks of the core broke, spun in the core barrel, and were smeared with mud.

    This new paper takes a close look at the core to find signs of that coring disturbance, and finds them in spades. So it seems a pretty safe bet that the 13-year interpretation is incorrect at this point, although the paper advocates for trying to acquire a new, undisturbed core to make sure.

    Anyway, in case anyone had been curious… (Hopefully n>0 on that…)


      1. Hard to say. The estimates are uncertain enough, and we’d have to keep at it for a while to qualify. But I think it’s safe to say that a few centuries from now, the extinction event that could be left in the geologic record would be mostly indistinguishable from a record left by an asteroid-impact-caused extinction.


    1. Thanks for pointing this out. I actually mentioned the paper on McPherson’s site, before it was published. Of course, it got short shrift from him but now it’s published, I may have another go (though being under moderation and having something more solid, I doubt it will make it through the veil).


    2. I was aware of the “several published comments challenging” the 13-year claim. I found them in a link provided by a certain Guy McPherson, and pointed them out in a comment (can’t remember where). If, in due course, Wright and Schaller concede that they made an error, won’t that rather pull the rug from under GM’s and Beckwith’s claim? Not that it will phase GM; he’ll think of some way to stick to his position.


      1. Happily, after pointing out the paper on McPherson’s climate summary thread, he thanked me for providing it and has emailed Wright for a comment. Sadly, he referred to the journal as a “minor journal” and thought Wright and Schaller wouldn’t find it worthy of response but maybe things are looking up.


      2. Well, if Guy bothers to read the paper, he’ll note that the authors thank Wright and Schaller for having constructive conversations, and they provided access to the core. Not everyone regards research at odds with your own “unworthy of a response”.


      3. Well spotted, Scott. I did read the paper but not the acknowledgements. In the pre-publication review comments, the authors did say they had alerted Wright and Schaller to the submission but they had not responded.


  15. Hi SJ and everyone,

    3 articles I thought might be of interest and a question:

    A Deeper Look: 2014′s Warming Record and the Continued Trend Upwards

    U.S. approaching ‘tipping points’ for sea level rise-related flooding earlier than expected

    How concerned are CEOs about climate change? Not at all

    My question SJ,

    Would a temperature rise of 4 -6 degrees be a ‘game changer’ or just make life a little tougher and when do you think we might see such a rise, if ever? I’ve seen a lot of varying guesstimates from a decade from now to centuries away or not at all. What do you think?


      1. There’s an argument that says we’ll be “saved” from such a temperature rise by economic collapse.

        ChrisMartensondotcom – Peak Prosperity
        Gail Tverberg: This Is The Beginning Of The End For Oil Production


      2. Thanks SJ.

        Well, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. The impression I get from what I’ve read and heard, is that yes, while CC isn’t good, it’s real and it’s here, it’s effects will be smallish and distant overall. I’ve heard that probably the worst we’ll see this century is a greater tendency for some coastlines to flood (the rich may lose their homes along the beaches) a few more Katrina like events, and some difficulty in growing some crops. That’s as close to consensus as I’ve come.

        I watched a video with Jim White recently wherein his take on Climate Change was such that, yes it is a problem but we’re smart and we’ll adapt. It sounded so reassuring, actually, that one of the press people asked if he was saying that CC isn’t such a big deal after all. He hastened to say no, it is a big deal, but don’t lose sleep over it any time soon. Quite a different message from Guy McPherson’s.


        It does seem like the collapse of civilization might just be, in the end, the only thing we can do that will have an immediate and lasting effect. We’ll leave that to the great great grandkids to work out.


      3. Well, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. The impression I get from what I’ve read and heard, is that yes, while CC isn’t good, it’s real and it’s here, it’s effects will be smallish and distant overall. I’ve heard that probably the worst we’ll see this century is a greater tendency for some coastlines to flood (the rich may lose their homes along the beaches) a few more Katrina like events, and some difficulty in growing some crops. That’s as close to consensus as I’ve come.

        I don’t know where you got this impression from. It didn’t come from climate scientists. If you listen carefully to Jim White, I don’t think you’ll hear anything different from what everyone else is saying. We agreed a while back that we didn’t want to warm more than 2C this century, and the BAU scenario is roughly 4C. Not much math is necessary, there.

        Forget Guy McPherson and the small camp online that pushes his extreme views. You shouldn’t think, “Well, since those crazy claims are wrong, everything must be fine.” That’s a sideshow. The science of thousands of researchers is unambiguous that this is a very, very serious problem.


      4. Yep, Scott, and that is just what to expect this century. If that isn’t bad enough, it’s projected to get worse for our grandchildren and their children.


      5. If you have the patience to listen to the link she makes the case that the collapse of civilization isn’t something we do, but rather something that looks likely to happen to us, and before long.


  16. SJ,

    I’m just giving my take on all of the different assessments I’ve been reading and hearing and trying to jive them all together into something resembling coherence. I agree that most scientists say that CC is a big deal. Like I said, when Jim White (and Richard Alley via telephone, both of whom I greatly respect) were asked if they were saying that perhaps CC isn’t such a big deal after all, Jim hastened to say that no, it is a big deal. I mentioned that above. But he did seem to want people to calm down and not panic. It’s fixable. I think that’s what I’ve been saying and what I’ve heard from most scientists.

    I look at Guy as one extreme, I look at those who say everything is roses as the other. The truth is usually somewhere in the middle. That appears, to me at least, to be where most scientists are standing at the moment. Historically, one side is never ALL right and the other ALL wrong. Like I said above, climate change is real and it’s here but it’s not doomsday. Not by a mile.


    1. For sure, and a whole lot of meaning is going to hang on interpretations of a few qualitative words. I think “reason must lie in the middle way” is a shortcut that can get you into trouble. Say scientists warn about x, and then some PR shucksters vocally push -x. They will succeed when confused people say, “I guess the truth must be somewhere in between x and -x.” But certainly it’s wise in a great many cases, depending, of course, on the facts.

      If Guy McPherson went to a climate science talk and started asking scientists whether things were “that bad” (here meaning human extinction in 20 years or less), he would get a lot of “Oh, gosh no, it’s not that bad.” If someone else were to ask if things were really “that bad” (there meaning maybe this all isn’t much of a worry), they would get very different answers about serious costs and risks of the truly nasty. There are a lot of ways in which human beings make the world a shittier place for themselves, their fellow human beings, and their fellow species, but I think most climate scientists would agree that climate change is probably the defining challenge of our generation. The answer to the question “What should we do about it?” is quite clearly “Start reducing emissions 20 years ago.”

      All this, I guess, to say that I didn’t think “its effects will be smallish and distant overall” was an accurate description. SO maybe I should just have said that…


    2. John,

      You need to distinguish between the situation being technically fixable and us actually fixing it. We’ve known about the problem for a long time. The IPCC was formed in 1988 and world leaders promised to do something about it many times. They are going to say they will do something about it again, at the end of this year. The longer it goes on with people just saying they want to fix it but not actually doing anything (significant) to do so, the less likely it is that it can be fixed.

      McPherson’s position isn’t supported by what we know now but that doesn’t mean that it’s completely wrong (we just don’t know that it’s not). However, a grim future certainly seems to await us or our immediate descendents.

      Again, when scientists say it’s fixable, that is an entirely different situation from its being fixed. I think this is an important distinction. By the way, no scientist knows how to fix the situation, though many have opinions.


    1. I know that I’ve been waffling on this topic since I found this site and for that I apologize. I came into this after having first stumbled on Guy and his message. After that, I stumbled across the Heritage Foundation and their message. Since they have so many paid for scientists on their side, they certainly outweigh Guy. But in watching them, I got a strong sense of sliminess that I find nauseating.

      So I’ve been trying to figure out what’s really going on for myself since I have a vested interest in this subject. I’m alive. I was glad I found your site because then I could go to the source and ask a bona-fide climate scientist myself. And I find your answers both detailed and compelling. I think you walk that middle road I was talking about, it’s not the end of the world (at least not as soon as Guy suggests) but it’s not going to be pretty either. I get that.

      Hey, I also want you to know, and I’ve said it before, that I appreciate the time you spend knocking our heads together. Especially mine.

      Ignoring everything else I’ve said before, I know that CC is a big deal. If I say I don’t, yeah, I do. I’ve had a uncomfortable feeling about the effects we’re having on the earth decades before I ever heard of Guy McPherson or Climate Change. When I first realized how quickly human population is expanding and saw the rotten mess we’re making of the planet, I knew, as does everyone else perhaps, that something has to give, and as fast as humankind is growing, soon. We’re facing an expanding set of woes the like of which make me ashamed to be human, frankly. Because, above everything else, I’m a hypocrite. I have no right to judge human destruction in the name of profits because I’ve done the same.

      We fashioned civilization in such a way that, unless we want to wear rags, eat from a dumpster and live under a park bench, we HAVE to be part of the system. We took a serious wrong turn when we decided 10k years ago to start farming. Big mistake.

      I strongly doubt anyone really believes were going to stop using fossil fuels as long as it’s relatively cheap and easily available. Every single thing we make is dependant on it in someway. Walk around a box store and ask yourself which of the companies making goods we like to buy is going to volunteer to go out of business if no substitute is found for the products they’re selling. Exactly zero.

      Even if we managed to squeeze another 20 mpg out of our cars and put solar panels onto every rooftop in the world (I wonder how much pollution that would create), we’re in this oil game to stay. Minus a perpetual motion breakthrough and given our rapidly growing need for energy to supply our rapidly growing population, talk of quitting oil is a fanatsy.

      So yeah, I just content myself believing everything is cool. I don’t know how long I can keep this up. Yeah.



      1. You’re probably the most open-minded person to come through these parts, and I appreciate that. And I certainly know how much conflicting information there is to swim through out there. I’m glad for the conversation.

        (But just to clarify, I’m not myself a climate scientist. I always correct people about that so no one thinks I’m claiming to be something I’m not!)


      2. Right off the bat I have to say I found this on Guy McPherson’s site. I would certainly understand if it isn’t something you wanted to post. Some may find this inconsistent with my well known dislike of hippies but I’ve never believed love for the planet should belong to any political spectrum.


      3. This article, besides accurately outlining and explaining his plan, puts Hansen’s strategy, of which the Fee/Dividend concept is only one part, into a broader context of what is happening with the environment and society.

        We share with James Hansen the view that “humanity is not a bunch of lemmings marching unstoppably toward a cliff”; there is still time for corrective social action. But it must be clearly seen that we face a planetary crisis and emergency; no gradual exit is possible, time is too short.

        I’m starting to see some deep parallels with Chomsky—for instance the will to act, to encourage, to know the right way—though he and Hansen converged from distinctly different paths. Must be something cosmic…


    2. John said
      I strongly doubt anyone really believes were going to stop using fossil fuels as long as it’s relatively cheap and easily available.

      Well said and exactly true. But in your post you entirely overlook the role that governments can play in the price of fossil fuels by taxing them according to their costs to society.

      James Hansen has been focused on this idea for the last several years. The idea of a Fee & Dividend program has huge appeal as a fair, effective and easily administered law. Not to mention the popularity it would have when people realize what it would do and how it would work.

      Also, it would be stimulative to the economy.

      You can hardly avoid hearing Hansen speak about it if you click on any one of his videos.


      1. Fee and dividend is a fingers crossed approach but it might be one of the few tactics that has a sliver of a chance of general acceptance. It’s a kind of stick and carrot. However, I worry that those most able to afford fuel hikes won’t notice much and those least able to afford them will gain overall, and thus be able to afford them.


      2. Agreed. But the concept gives me the tingleys. There is so much truth built in. And the implementation is like the push of a button away. Debit and EBT cards were MADE for this.

        I’m just starting to study it, but Hansen’s been pondering it for almost a decade, so his continued enthusiasm says something (to me, at least).

        I like the element that raises awareness. A poor family of four gets $750/month when the tax is $115/ton. That’s enough to make one’s ears prick up and make one wonder what’s going on. Maybe change jobs to within walking distance. Ditch the car and another $50-400/month of expenses. It would be a huge topic of conversation and people would learn to innovate and learn from each other. It would become a cultural thing. Combined with the increasing climate changes, the public would become educated and demanding.

        It was a no-brainer 20 years ago and may not be realistic with the time available now, but it’s important to get it in place, so that there’s more awareness/understanding and less to do when the sh__ really hits the fan (for us—already too late in some parts of the world).


      3. So the poorer families (the ones who currently probably use less fossil fuels) will get a bigger slice of the dividend (in proportion to their usual outgoings, as compared to wealthier folk). Will they spend the extra? Sure. What will they spend it on that doesn’t have fossil fuels embedded in it somewhere along the line? I think this is the point that gets missed. The poorer you are, the more likely you will spend any extra on more stuff. The extremely wealthy probably won’t notice much change and probably won’t buy any more stuff than they already do. From the poor to the wealthy, the trend will be to spend any extra, I feel sure. In that case, the impact of fee and dividend will not be as high as Hansen expects. At least that’s the way I see it at the moment. It’s even possible that it will have no effect or a slightly negative effect. Has this sort of thing been addressed by any analysis of Hansen’s proposals?


      4. I’m about a half-day of research into this so I can’t be much of an advocate. Like you say there’s some subtleties and questions. Hansen refers to Citizens Climate Lobby as the main instigator and knowledge repository, so I’ve been following their Q&A’s and some related youtubes.

        They cite the so-called REMI study (modeling) as their founding knowledge base. (CCL quick overview) Supposed to be a major undertaking. Then they cite about 4 other studies that variously support or dispute the FD concept and/or the REMI study.

        CCL seems well organized. They are in most states and pursuing the remainder, using various kinds of outreach methods including letter-writing campaigns aimed at gov reps and educational campaigns.

        Like sj notes, it’s been tried in British Colombia and also Australia. I’ve heard Sweden has it but I’m not sure. The thing is, there’s varying degrees and methods of application, and neither BC nor Australia are close to the pure/aggressive approach advocated by Hansen and CCL.

        I’m eager to learn more. Hansen’s been talking about it for a long time now but for some reason the light went on in my head the other day. May have been the youtube I posted the other day, because it concentrates on the Fee/Dividend idea.
        James Hansen: To Save Our Plane
        That one is only about a half hour, but it seems like it’s been chopped down to be more concise.
        There’s another one where he’s interviewed on-stage, followed by a Q/A session with an audience of scientists where he can’t stop saying put a price on carbon (bunch of non-speaking cameos of Michael Mann) :


      5. Single-page overview of countries that have some flavor of F&D carbon emissions tax (copious references). Google (wordpress is rejecting the url):

        Where Carbon Is Taxed This page reports on carbon taxes that have been enacted or proposed around the world.

        Wish I knew why it gives you trouble… -SJ

        Generally positive results. Telling example in Australia of how politics and implementation interplay, which may be a big part of why Hansen emphasizes 100% revenue return to the public.


      6. Strange. Maybe the filter—whitelist/blacklist—-doesn’t apply to bloggers. I just tried it again and rejected.


      7. I haven’t seen your comments in my spam filter before, but it did happen today. Give it one more test— I want to see if it learned anything when I marked those comments as “Not Spam”…


  17. Hey SJ, I know you’ve always clarified that, not being an actual ‘scientist’ per se, but compared to me and 99% of the rest of the populace, you’re way close enough.


  18. Of interest,


    2015: “Unchecked climate change, global nuclear weapons modernizations, and outsized nuclear weapons arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity, and world leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe. These failures of political leadership endanger every person on Earth.” Despite some modestly positive developments in the climate change arena, current efforts are entirely insufficient to prevent a catastrophic warming of Earth. Meanwhile, the United States and Russia have embarked on massive programs to modernize their nuclear triads—thereby undermining existing nuclear weapons treaties. “The clock ticks now at just three minutes to midnight because international leaders are failing to perform their most important duty—ensuring and preserving the health and vitality of human civilization.”

    Scientists: Human activity has pushed Earth beyond four of nine ‘planetary boundaries’

    At the rate things are going, the Earth in the coming decades could cease to be a “safe operating space” for human beings. That is the conclusion of a new paper published Thursday in the journal Science by 18 researchers trying to gauge the breaking points in the natural world.

    The paper contends that we have already crossed four “planetary boundaries.” They are the extinction rate; deforestation; the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere; and the flow of nitrogen and phosphorous (used on land as fertilizer) into the ocean.

    “What the science has shown is that human activities — economic growth, technology, consumption — are destabilizing the global environment,” said Will Steffen, who holds appointments at the Australian National University and the Stockholm Resilience Center and is the lead author of the paper.

    These are not future problems, but rather urgent matters, according to Steffen, who said that the economic boom since 1950 and the globalized economy have accelerated the transgression of the boundaries. No one knows exactly when push will come to shove, but he said the possible destabilization of the “Earth System” as a whole could occur in a time frame of “decades out to a century.”

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Bill, I agree with you and Hansen regarding taxing fossil fuels,

    “But in your post you entirely overlook the role that governments can play in the price of fossil fuels by taxing them according to their costs to society.”

    What I was saying is that, taxes or not, fossil fuels have to stay in the ground if we’re to lick this CC problem.

    I just flat don’t believe that we’re going to stop using oil, taxed or not, as long as it’s there to use. If we look around our homes, around the stores, everything we see is grounded in fossil fuels in some way, important ways that would cripple the economy if we dropped oil. I think the decision, realistically, we face is, crush the economy or sail over the oil waterfall with gold in our pockets.

    I believe we’re going to choose the latter.


    1. I don’t like the prediction game. Haven’t you ever been in a situation that seemed impossible but worked out OK? Happens to me all the time.

      “Where never is heard a discouraging word”

      Hansen reduces the problem to that of educating the people. The carbon tax would go a long way in that direction, quickly.


  20. Bill,

    Not to get into a tit for tat, I have no interest whatsoever in trying to prove myself right on any point at all, (even were it possible in trying to guess an event yet to come). I don’t think I’m being particularly pessimesstic. I’d call it realistic. If we suddenly figure out how to use oil and it’s components w/o that ‘equal and opposite reaction’ thing that action always seems to initiate, I’ll gladly jump on the don’t worry, be happy bandwagon too. Not saying you’re there, just saying.

    Don’t take this the wrong way Bill. I like hope just as much as the next guy.


      1. Thanks for the link, John. I like Prof Corey Bradshaw’s response. I’m amazed, though, at how many feel hope, usually after saying how frustrated they are that nothing has been done for decades.


    1. Out of all the responders there is only one that confesses a feeling of vengefulness, whereas it has to be one of the most immediate and common responses in a situation of being wronged. This pattern speaks to the detachedness of evolved people who do science—indulge their curiosity—as their live’s occupation.

      You can BET it won’t be pretty when people start looking for someone to blame.


    2. I really like Jeremy Jackson—his talks seem to stir me up.

      Common Hour: Ocean Apocalypse Now – YouTube

      As he relates in the above video, he was a civil rights foot soldier in the early sixties. As you can see in the video, he’s a long hair. His drug of choice is/was alcohol (for one period in his life—there may or may not have been other periods/other drugs). So, you may think he’s a hippie and find him irritating. In which case, I am happy to have returned the favor.

      Anyway, aside from his human failings, he’s a prominent and passionate ocean scientist and an activist for the planet and its inhabitants and his public presentations make for excellent viewing. His Ocean Apocalypse series is evolving as the planet changes and the science races to keep up.

      His broad awareness, plus excellence in science plus attitude make him like a Guy McPherson who gets everything right.


      1. “His broad awareness, plus excellence in science plus attitude make him like a Guy McPherson who gets everything right.”

        If he’s the guy I saw on a youtube video a few months ago, and it was about the ocean apocalypse something or other, I was a little put off when one of his strongest points was easly disputed by an audience member at the question and answer bit at the end and he said something like, “Oh really? Well ok, I guess I was wrong about that.” Something or other. I think when we’re talking about something like extinction, it’s an idea to know before you say.


      2. Have you got a link to that video, John, and the timing of the question? I’ve seen a previous video of Jackson’s (I think it was at some military institution) and don’t recall such a question, and I watched the questions in the video linked by Bill, but I didn’t see anything like what you described.

        Ocean apocalypse is another very scary aspect of what we’re doing to our own habitat.


      3. Evening Lecture | Jeremy Jackson: Ocean Apocalypse
        Like I said, he was totally conciliatory and it was not his sphere of expertise but he offered good substantiation.

        The beginning of this particular talk (5:38) is also interesting for his similarity to McPherson ringing the early alarm bell and taking a lot of flack for it from his colleagues; and then (not GM-related) the military contacting him, wanting to talk, and telling him it’s MUCH worse than he knows.


      4. Actually, it’s better to start at the very beginning, which is 03:53.
        Another similarity with GM is they are both ecologists.


      5. This is all messed up. The lecture with the challenge from the audience is

        Ocean Apocalypse Now, Jeremy Jackson
        The beginning of this talk is also interesting for perspective on how JJ got to where he is now wrt Ocean Apocalypse (5:38)

        The lecture that starts out with the self-description that reminds one of GM is

        Evening Lecture | Jeremy Jackson: Ocean Apocalypse


      6. As I recall, the point had to do with global warming science—i.e., not Jackson’s main field—and Jackson took a humble, acquiescent approach as a matter of courtesy and good conversation rather than needlessly dispute a point that was inconsequential to the thrust of his talk. The incident actually impressed me for his ease in the face of contradiction.


      7. john said:
        I think when we’re talking about something like extinction, it’s an idea to know before you say.

        There’s a non-parallel here. GM’s NTHE is an out-there, wild claim, pretty much completely dismissed by the mainstream radicals and new-thinkers—Wadhams, Francis, Mann, etc. Whereas, Jackson’s Ocean Apocalypse is endorsed by his friend Synthia Earle, one of the most prominent Ocean Scientists in the world. It’s not really controversial. Perhaps I should say Jackson has ontological integrity rather than he knows everything? But I am impressed by the depth and breadth of his knowledge—a consequence of a lifetime of passionate immersion—not only in science but also the intellectual and moral life of the nation and the world.


  21. Mike, I’d have to go back and try to find it. It was Jeremy Jacksonb and he was talking about an ocean apocalypse. I don’t know if Bill is talking about what I saw because if he linked a video in his post, it’s not here. At least I don’t see it. Can you let me know if Bill included it in one of his above posts? If not, I’ll go back and try to find it.. I think his lecture was fairly long, like an hour or so and the comment was at the end in the question and answer part. That’s all I remember.

    Bill, I agree very much with humbleness. I strongly dislike people who think they can’t be wrong. It doesn’t bother me at all if someone is wrong because I’ve been wrong so often myself. All I was pointing out is that it was some point he emphasized in his talk and then retracted so easily when challenged. My thought was, if he gave up the point that easily, what else might he be saying that could be wrong?


    1. It’s OK; Bill eventually got there. It was a question about what temperature rise we’d already committed to. I didn’t see Jackson’s piece in the lecture to see what he actually said about that but maybe it was that 4 degrees was built in on a business as usual trajectory. But it was nothing like your characterisation of the question and the answer, though, John. At least to me.


    2. john said
      All I was pointing out is that it was some point he emphasized in his talk and then retracted so easily when challenged. My thought was, if he gave up the point that easily, what else might he be saying that could be wrong?

      He didn’t retract. He gave the background of the 4C number (a recent conference he attended at the Potsdam Institute) and explained his choice (vs 2C) and put into perspective its level of importance for his presentation (low). Is that too mellow for you? LOL

      You might want to take another listen to his talk or to one of his more recent talks. Great viewing on many levels.


    3. I stand by my opinion that JJ is epistemologically sound, i.e., he doesn’t say more than he knows. He doesn’t pound the table about something that is speculation. He is capable of give and take and questioning what he thinks to be true. The topic is out of his area of research and not something he has to deal with in his everyday job. All good scientists keep a strict discipline on what is known and how well it is known. What I would call Epistemological Integrity. (Sorry, I’ve been calling it Ontological Integrity—long time since Philosophy 101).

      What was actually said (within a few words here and there):

      Audience member (AM):
      I’ve heard a lot of gloom and doom talks in my career and I think yours took the cake.

      Jeremy Jackson (JJ):

      I want to challenge one thing you said, partly because I’m more on the hope side. you said we’re comitted to 4 degrees of warming and I believe that’s incorrect, it’s actually about a degree and a half.

      Well, according to… at this meeting at the Vatican. What’s his name… Sean Popper. Yeah, the Potsdam Institute? That’s his number. And I think… Actually, I just… I did a report about Caribean coral reefs which actually had some really good news in it. It’s wonderful—right? I’m sort of hope and change too but, reality is reality. And I guess the thing is, you know… half of all the carbon we’ve put in the air we’ve done since… ’73 or something? And we’re calling for an increase in exploitation of carbon resources which is going to double that?? And we just can’t handle it, so whether it’s 2 degrees or 4 degrees — and I was just citing the guy—that’s the Potsdam Institute NUMBER now… and it may be right or not… but you know, if we build that pipeline, which I’m afraid we might do… if we build that pipeline, that’s another degree, you know? Because it’s not just the amount of stuff that will come to us from there—it’s the mindset. It’s the failure to respond. And I just don’t see that happening—it’s the doom and gloom side of me as opposed to… I wouldn’t give these talks if I’d given up, right? I give them to shock people.

      The one thing I would say to respond is, generally, that word “commitment” is used very specifically for how much CO2 we’ve put in the atmosphere. I’ve taught a lot of classes on this—there’s a website called [—–.org which is about a mile down(?)]. I look at these numbers quite frequently. You know so we acutally have about 400 Gt, roughly, of space till we reach that 2 degree limit. So, I understand your broader point, you could say in a broad sense, humanity is committed to a warming greater than 2 degrees, but I think in terms of giving people hope in terms of where we are in reality, I think saying a degree and a half is more accurate.

      OK, so at this Vatican meeting it was really sort of interesting. So, at this meeting they talked about that a lot. And talked about… when you commit an industry to do something… you invest to do something, you’re going to use it. That’s why those coal-fired plants in the south are such a big deal—a huge issue. And of course it’s not just oil, it’s coal and all the rest of it. So, I’m going to go back, because obviously you know more about it than I do, so I’m going to go back and question the Potsdam number. But I would still say the real issue is whether or not we are willing to step away from what we are doing or not. Because I see all this policy as “we can be bad for another 10 years”. Why aren’t we investing in that? If we were investing in the renewable energy the way China is, I’d feel very differently about the situation. But I think our failure to invest is evil. And that I guess is… you want to comment on that?

      The only thing I would say about that—the previous questioner remarked… I was going to bring that up also—today is a propitious day. These new limits on coal-fired power plants are really really ambitious. That’s 1100 pounds of CO2 per megawatthour compared to the average plant today is like 1750. So I guess it’s just how much you believe in the process, how much you believe in government’s ability to push us in the right direction. In my opinion what the president did today was a big step in the right direction.

      In my opinion what the President did today was a bold and wonderful thing. But, you know, I am on the advisory board to NOAA and when [Jen Minchenko(?)] had the audacity to talk about integrating the climate research and activities done at NOAA in a single organization she was attacked by Congress for violating the congressional mandate for no new climate science, even though none of us knew, and I sat on a committee where we had to go through the exercise of reviewing NOAA’s science [and defend the fact(?)] that they were actually doing it. So, I’m sitting here waiting as long as we’ve got that proportion of imbeciles—I’m sorry—sitting there denying what we all know. And denying the kind of information that made this country great. Then, we’re in very very serious trouble. You know, when I talk just about fishing and stuff like that, people used to stand up in the room and scream at me and call me a liar. They don’t do that anymore, they quibble about details. We haven’t gotten there yet with the climate. And I don’ know whether it’s more destructive or not to give a talk like this but it’s the way I felt when I woke up this morning. Because basically… because basically, there’s nothing in that talk except maybe 4 degrees versus 2 or 3—that isn’t there just to read… everywhere. So, the problem is that we don’t use information. And we’ve not been using information for a long time. And we could go on (and this is the last thing I’ll say so if anyone else wants to ask something) but we could go on for an hour about how just the carbon we’re putting in the atmosphere is already a commitment to more than 4 degrees Centigrade because we’ve pushed the button of the elimination of the permafrost. And the methane that’s going to be released from the previously frozen arctic soil is a vast, vast, vast amount of methane, which is more of a greenhouse gas than CO2. So you can’t just count the amount of carbon… as accountants we can record very carefully how much we’re putting in the atmosphere. You also have to account for the feedback loops that are generating more and more of a bad thing. And, I don’t think we know the answer for the methane, but a number of people I’ve heard say that it’s bigger than the burning of coal and oil. I don’t think we know. Because we really don’t know the extent of those reservoirs.


  22. SJ,

    Another climate question. Well, not Earth climate. Titan, specifically, a moon of Saturn. As we all know, Titan is covered in a methane atmosphere and has methane oceans to boot. In the animated video, we zoomed around Titan’s deep brown haze while lightening crackeled around us again and again.

    I’m wondering, wouldn’t lightening on such a world rather tend to set it off? I would think even a spark would be amble to do the job. Any thoughts?


  23. SJ, is it possible to add an ‘Edit’ button on the comment box so that when I mistype, which is just about every other letter, I can go back and correct my mistakes and thus appear more on the ball than I really am?


      1. Well, I just learned something interesting. If I accidentally press the Ctrl button and the S, thinking I’m pressing the Shift and S, it closes out the page, bounces me back to the desktop and I have to start all over again. Cool.

        Mike and Bill, if I misremembered what JJ had said to the guy who challenged him, I apologize. Yes Bill, I do think that was what the guy said, about the 1.5 degree temperature rise, but for some reason I really thought I remembered JJ saying something like, “Oh really? Maybe I was wrong about that.” Something like that. I guess I’ll have to try to find that lecture and find that part again.


      2. SJ,

        Many thanks for that about Titan. I wasn’t sure why methane and spark wouldn’t react in expected ways. You’ve answered that. : )


      3. John said:
        Yes Bill, I do think that was what the guy said, about the 1.5 degree temperature rise, but for some reason I really thought I remembered JJ saying something like, “Oh really? Maybe I was wrong about that.” Something like that. I guess I’ll have to try to find that lecture and find that part again.

        I saved you the trouble. How about that?


  24. Romm-Krugman vs Revkin-Roberts on how cheap/expensive-easy/hard to fix climate change.

    R-K say it’s cheap but not easy considering “people” like the Kochs are spending nearly a billion on the 2016 election to put more “imbeciles” (Jeremy Jackson’s term) in office.

    Romm/Krugman have the IPCC studies and scientists to back their claims.

    Revkin/Roberts don’t have much.

    More interesting to me would be the conversation between Hansen and the Fee&Dividend lobby vs the Romm-Krugman way of looking at it—assuming there would be a difference.


    1. Thanks Bill, the part I was refering to (I’ll just quote those parts) was when Jeremy was challenged,

      Questioner- “I want to challenge, I want to challenge one thing you said, partly cause I’m, I’m more on the hope side than the gloom side. You said we’re committed to 4 degrees of warming? I believe that’s incorrect. It’s actually about a degree and a half.”

      Jeremy- “Well, according to… at this meeting at the Vatican… what’s his name… Sean Popper? Yeah, the Potsdam Institute? That’s his number…

      “And we’re, we’re calling for a, an increased exploitation of carbon resources which is going to double that? And, and we just can’t handle it. So whether it’s 2 degrees or 4 degrees, and I was just citing the guy, the, that’s the Potsdam Institute number now. Um, and it may be right or not.”

      Questioner- “Just the, the one thing I just say in response is, generally, that word “commitment” is used very specifically for how much CO2 we’ve put in the atmosphere. And, you know, there’s, I’ve taught a lot of classes on this and there’s a, a website called trillions (illegible) .org which is run by Miles Allen-”

      Jeremy- “Right.”

      Questioner- “and you. I look at these numbers quite frequently and… You know, so we acutally have, you know, it’s not 400 Gt, roughly, of space till we’ve reached that 2 degree limit. So, I mean, I’m not… I understand your broader point, you could say in a broad sense humanity is committed to a warming greater than 2 degrees, but, I think in terms of people, giving people hope about where we are in reality, I think saying a degree and a half is more accurate.”…

      Jeremy- “So, I’m going to go back, because you obviously know more about what, this topic than I do, and I’m gonna, I’m gonna question, question the Potsdam number.”

      That’s what bothered me. I’m not trying to nitpick. My thinking, and I know Jeremy is a quick guy, an expert in his field and I respect that, my thought is, know your numbers before you lay them out when those numbers means life or death. As we’ve all learned, the differences between 2 degrees and 4 degrees are quite momentous. Just that.


      1. I agree that he should have understood the number better before using it, but it’s good and appropriate that he acknowledged he should get it straightened out. Can you imagine a Guy McPherson responding like that?


      2. john wrote:
        That’s what bothered me. I’m not trying to nitpick. My thinking, and I know Jeremy is a quick guy, an expert in his field and I respect that, my thought is, know your numbers before you lay them out when those numbers means life or death. As we’ve all learned, the differences between 2 degrees and 4 degrees are quite momentous. Just that.

        JJ doesn’t restrict himself to the IPCC 2 degree “consensus” religion. He considers it valid to quote a study that is farther out on the spectrum. His own experience as a front-running whistle-blower has confirmed to him the complacency of mainstream science. He identifies himself that way, begins each lecture on that note by way of introducing himself. “Artist, blow your horn!”

        The other part is he prefers a broader use of the term “commitment”. “If you want to discourse with me, first define your terms” – Voltaire.

        Using a valid, non-mainstream definition is a good way to provoke that conversation, a tactic perfectly valid in a lecture setting. If the audience is unaware of the issue, then ignorance is bliss. If they are aware, then they are perfectly welcome to challenge and come to a happy resolution with an honest, open and humble scientist.


      3. JJ doesn’t restrict himself to the IPCC 2 degree “consensus” religion.

        Can we please not use language like that here?


      4. This is too quick a take as it leaves out a lot of important detail, but it shows the passion, the fluency, the mastery, the perspective.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. SJ, I absolutely agree with you. Guy would be a whole lot better appreciated and believed were he flexible and willing to adjust the particulars of his message as the science evolves. It’s bad enough, he certainly doesn’t need to pad it with deadlines. He could still do that, but seeing as how he’s still spouting stuff like man has never been on earth at temperatures 3.5 degrees above baseline, as though that means anything, I doubt that accuracy is his goal at this point.


      6. spouting stuff like man has never been on earth at temperatures 3.5 degrees above baseline, as though that means anything

        John, why do you think that doesn’t mean anything? I’ve heard that elsewhere too (recently, too, though I can’t remember the scientist who said it). What it means is that we don’t know if 3.5 degrees above baseline can support an ecology that supports humans. Of course, it doesn’t mean that it can’t, but it’s meaningful in that we’re doing the experiment on ourselves, not knowing the outcome.


      7. John, you entered your last remark on this thread in another thread. But to keep things together, I’m replying here.

        It may well be than humans might have evolved in a world of higher temperatures and it might well be that humans could survive in a world 3.5 degrees C warmer than pre-industrial times. However, we don’t know that for certain. And Rick doesn’t know that either.

        Perhaps more to the point, as most people seem to want to retain civilisation, the period since civilisations first started to arise has not seen temperatures more than about 1 degree C above preindustrial. I don’t know if Guy mentions that but Hansen does.

        Really, we don’t know whether an ecology that supports humans is possible at 3.5C above preindustrial. However, most people seem to rely on their intuition and say “no problemo”.


      8. The temperature stability of the last 6000 years coincides with sea level stability. Civilizations sprang up during this period because of the stability of coastal settlements where there was easy access to protein: fish.

        Now, not only are we threatening sea level stability, we have also “fished out” the oceans. There is one onethousandth to one tenthousandth the number of harvestable fish in the oceans vs what there used to be.

        2 or 3 wars, including the two world wars were fought at least partly over contested cod fisheries along the northwestern Atlantic shore (Maine, Newfoundland, etc.)

        These opinions are according to Hansen and J. Jackson.


  25. Hi Mike,

    You might be thinking of Rick Nolthenius during a debate of sorts with Guy. The earth has been much warmer in the past than the 3.5°C above the average temperature the earth had settled at (before the industrial revolution) and was vibrant with life. For instance,

    “The climate of the Cretaceous is less certain and more widely disputed. Higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are thought to have caused the world temperature gradient from north to south to become almost flat: temperatures were about the same across the planet. Average temperatures were also higher than today by about 10°C.”

    Certainly the world during the Cretaceous at 10°C higher than today was thriving. So while I don’t know if man specifically could survive that much difference, as Rick pointed out, man hasn’t lived on a world 3.5° C above pre-industrial levels because we simply hadn’t evolved yet. It seems likely that had the world been 4°C warmer, man still would have evolved.

    One thing occurs to me, I know that heat can have a dilitarious effect on fertility which often is quite particular about temperatures. For example,

    “A toasty car seat may boost relaxation during your commute, but beware: It could also be frying your sperm.

    A German study of 30 healthy men tested whether heated car seats raise the temperature down there to damaging levels. Testicles hang outside of your body because optimal sperm production requires a temperature 1 to 2 °C below the core temperature of 37 °C.

    After an hour in the hot seat, participants’ scrotal temperatures rose to an average of 37.3 °C, with a maximum temperature in one man of 39.7 °C. It’s only a slight increase, but it may be enough to damage the sperm production process, according to Andreas Jung, a researcher at the University of Giessen in Germany.”

    Perhaps man hadn’t evolved at 3.5° warmer because primates, at least those on the human line, can’t conceive at those temperatures. Perhaps as the world warms up, fertility will fall. Makes sense. You heard it here first.


  26. This is Joe Romm quoting the UK Guardian quoting Igor Semiletov. In 2008.

    Since 1994, Igor Semiletov of the Far-Eastern branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences “has led about 10 expeditions in the Laptev Sea but during the 1990s he did not detect any elevated levels of methane. However, since 2003 he reported a rising number of methane “hotspots,” which have now been confirmed using more sensitive instruments.”

    I was led to the Romm article from a comment on a RealClimate article written by David Archer, Arctic and American Methane in Context

    Do we know how much was coming from this area ten and more years ago? Hasn’t Semiletov said that those amounts were minimal pre-2000? (Sorry, I don’t have a link for this; I’ll see if I can track down the source of this recollection.)

    To which Archer replied:

    I’m not aware of this; I’d be very interested if you can dig it up. But also very surprised to hear if methane fluxes were increasing that quickly. The permafrost has been melting for thousands of years. David

    wili then supplied the link to the Romm article. Romm seems to get things right.

    I think that’s a very big part of the “context” of the methane story. Archer should have said thanks.

    I guess I’m not a very good googler, because although I suspected for some time that Semiletov “knew” that the bigger, badder, more numerous plumes were new, I never tracked it down. Anyway, there you go. This is why Shakhova and Semiletov “don’t like, do. not. like.” what they see happening in the ESAS.


    1. “Elevated level of methane” wasn’t defined. Also note that the expeditions prior to 2003 were over a much wider area of the Arctic, and probably wouldn’t have resulted in much timed data or a particularly wide data set. The expeditions were more focused after 2003, on the ESAS. But Shakhova has said that there was no observational data about methane emissions there before 2003, and that expeditions have rarely revisited areas, so we really don’t have much to go on to be able to say how rapidly they are increasing. I wish it were otherwise.


    2. As I recall, the Shakhova and Semiletov ‘“don’t like, do. not. like.” what they see happening in the ESAS’ remark related specifically to a possible devastating sudden methane “burp” from sub-ESAS clathrates.


    3. Tony Weddle said:
      “Elevated level of methane” wasn’t defined.

      The quote that wili was referring to was by Semiletov from the Guardian article, that Romm, in turn, quoted:

      Tony Weddle said:
      Also note that the expeditions prior to 2003 were over a much wider area of the Arctic

      Do you have references for this?

      Tony Weddle said:
      and probably wouldn’t have resulted in much timed data or a particularly wide data set

      Timed data, meaning… what?
      Wide data set, meaning… what?

      Tony Weddle said:
      The expeditions were more focused after 2003, on the ESAS. But Shakhova has said that there was no observational data about methane emissions there before 2003

      Where did Shakhova say this?
      Either way, the 2003 study that I looked at had observations from both the Laptev Sea and the ESAS.

      Tony Weddle said:
      and that expeditions have rarely revisited areas, so we really don’t have much to go on to be able to say how rapidly they are increasing.

      The point in the RealClimate discussion was whether there is baseline data or not. Semiletov and Shakhova think the decade of data prior to 2003 provide a good reference point.

      S&S would undoubtedly agree with you that more data are needed, if only to know where we are at now wrt emissions levels.


      1. The quote that wili was referring to was by Semiletov from the Guardian article, that Romm, in turn, quoted:

        “The concentrations of the methane were the highest ever measured in the summertime in the Arctic Ocean,” Semiletov said. “We have found methane bubble clouds above the gas-charged sediment and above the chimneys going through the sediment.”


      2. Sorry, also meant to say something about “elevated methane levels”. I know where the quote came from; but the phrase wasn’t defined. It implies that there were methane levels detected but that the weren’t very high, whatever that means (wili took it to mean “minimal”, another vague word). That is, it is essentially meaningless to say that no elevated methane levels were detected in the Laptev sea but some hotspots were found later, when we don’t know what the levels were and whether the hotspots were in areas previously visited and persistent.


      3. The quote that wili was referring to was by Semiletov from the Guardian article, that Romm, in turn, quoted

        Don’t know why Romm didn’t link to it, but googling turned that up in The Independent:
        Romm’s post is a little confusing, so I’m not entirely sure if the Guardian reference was meant to be connected to that block of text or not…

        Semiletov and Shakhova think the decade of data prior to 2003 provide a good reference point.

        If there were data capable of demonstrating that fact, one would expect them to have been published. So I don’t know what Semiletov said that turned into that line, and there’s no way to evaluate it.


      4. OK, I’m a little confused now, too. Seems like The Independent got the direct interview with Semiletov, but I don’t see the Independent referenced in the Romm article.

        I mistakenly said that Romm was quoting the UK Guardian, when he actually said that ThinkProgress first heard about this story from the Guardian… that piece of text in the Romm article linking to another ThinkProgress article. Problem is, all the links to previous ThinkProgress articles are broken (4 or 5 of them). If those links were live I think there would be less confusion as to the original provenance of the Semiletov quote.

        bill shockley said:
        Semiletov and Shakhova think the decade of data prior to 2003 provide a good reference point.

        sj said:
        If there were data capable of demonstrating that fact, one would expect them to have been published. So I don’t know what Semiletov said that turned into that line, and there’s no way to evaluate it.

        Sorry if that was confusing. That line is my interpretation of Semiletov’s statement—not something Semiletov actually said. The actual quote from the Independent article:
        “Since 1994, Igor Semiletov of the Far-Eastern branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences “has led about 10 expeditions in the Laptev Sea but during the 1990s he did not detect any elevated levels of methane.”

        I think that’s a fair assessment of what Semiletov intended. Except, their first clue that something was going on was in a 1999 expedition rather than 2003.

        I wouldn’t dare predict what would happen in 10 years. We just started ten years ago. You know the first paper that we published was a paper that negates any [–?–] from the Siberian Arctic Shelf. The paper was published in 1999 and we reported no emissions from the Siberian Arctic Shelf. Because we sampled about 250 samples. And we found increased concentration of methane in just one sample. Single sample. But, the concentration of methane in that single sample was so high that we couldn’t stop thinking about it.

        Youtube: Dr Natalia Shakhova Part 2 – Methane Hydrates & The Stability Of The East Siberian Arctic Shelf


      5. Sorry if that was confusing. That line is my interpretation of Semiletov’s statement—not something Semiletov actually said.

        No confusion. I just mean that it’s not a direct quote, and it’s not specific enough to know exactly how relevant that 1990s stuff is. (Where, exactly? Did they just miss the locations of the bubble plumes on the first couple cruises? Scenario 1: The number of discovered bubble plumes increased over time. Scenario 2: The number of bubble plumes increased over time.)

        I can’t find any 1999 paper that Shakhova is an author on, unfortunately. Her pubs list on her webpage only goes back to 2005, and Google Scholar isn’t coming up with anything. (I suppose it’s possible it was in a Russian-language journal, or not in a journal?) There is this Semiletov paper from 1999: The maps are pretty rough, but it seems like 2 or 3 cruises were in the right neighborhood. The only map of methane measurements were sub-ice along shore, but there’s no scale… They did note higher methane in those 1996 samples, though I’m guessing that’s too close to shore to be relevant here. I don’t see any mention of having sonar going that could have detected bubble plumes.


      6. Thanks for the article. I haven’t looked closely at it, but the abstract supports what he was saying in 2008. I’ll need to look over his published work to get an idea for what kinds of data he was collecting.

        The CH4 efflux from limnic environments in the north plays a significant role in the CH4 regional budget, whereas the role of the adjacent arctic adjacent seas in regional CH4 emission is small. This agrees with the aircraft data, which show a 10%–15% increase of CH4 over land when aircraft fly southward from the Arctic Basin. Offshore permafrost might add some CH4 into the atmosphere, although the preliminary data are not sufficient to estimate the effect.


      7. Bill,

        Some of what I mentioned was pulled from this paper (PDF) by a team that included Semiletov and Shakhova. Regarding “zero observational data”, Shakhova is quoted on that in this article. So “widely” means the observations are sparse in the Arctic, before they started to concentrate on the ESAS (referred to in the paper as the ESS).

        In her last year’s interview with Nick Breeze (part 1), she talks about being careful when making statements that the methane emissions are increasing because they usually don’t revisit areas (so there isn’t the data to say if it is increasing). So “timed” data means data over a significant period of time to be able to say anything about the dynamics.

        I hope that clears it up. Sorry for not including links previously; I thought you were up to speed on Shakhova’s and Semiletov’s work.


      8. Thanks for the links. I don’t think there’s any doubt what Semiletov intended in his statement:

        “Since 1994, Igor Semiletov of the Far-Eastern branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences “has led about 10 expeditions in the Laptev Sea but during the 1990s he did not detect any elevated levels of methane.”

        I think a review of his related published work would substantiate his reasons for that remark. I hope to do that someday. Before The End.


    4. Landbeyond said:
      As I recall, the Shakhova and Semiletov ‘“don’t like, do. not. like.” what they see happening in the ESAS’ remark related specifically to a possible devastating sudden methane “burp” from sub-ESAS clathrates.

      Actually, it was the other way round: The methane burp speculation was part of their “everything is anomalous” assessment. Sea ice loss; air, water and sediment temperatures; methane concentrations, etc.

      Shakhova was specific about increased seismic activity in the area catalyzing a massive burp. Clathrates are intrinsically explosive because of the huge increase in volume when they convert from ice to gas. This expansion further destabilizes the sediments that contain them.

      I think S&S’s worries are justified, but maybe not well understood. A methane burp could result from a small subset of hydrates that are at the borderline, ready to be pushed over the edge. Then, it would take more time and more warming for the next level of hydrates to become vulnerable. Michael Benton says that the Permian Extinction saw several waves of methane release—it was not a single, continuous event.


      1. I think you missed that Benton was talking about the Permian but, 2 or 3 or 4 waves is not really important. The concept of vulnerable substrate is.

        A little troubling that you seem to agree with me here.


      2. The editing of the interview may have made what Shakhova said less clear, but she seems to be speaking about an event, rather than an extended process, allowing the release of a “massive amount” of methane from beneath a permafrost seal. She suggests both warming and seismic activity could contribute to methane release, but a huge “burp” seems to be their main, possibly short-term, concern.


      3. Agreed, depending how you define “burp”, “event” and “extended process”. I think she’s pretty flexible with “burp” and “event”, defining a burp or event as something that could occur over an interval of years or decades.


  27. According to Google Scholar:
    Shakhova and Semiletov have 25 papers where they are co-authors.
    Shakhova has 29 without Semiletov (54 total).
    Semiletov has 62 without Shakhova (87 total).
    Together, they have 116 unique titles.
    Shakhova’s papers don’t start until 2004.

    This is what I found for Semiletov through 2002 (I’m allowing 3 years for any work from 1999 to get published).

    1987 IP Semiletov Influence of gas exchange between ocean and atmosphere on formation of atmospheric pressure field

    1991 IP Semiletov On small climatic effects of air invasion in polar regions: The influence on atmospheric pressure and heat flux

    1993 IP Semiletov Winter biotic activity and production of CO2 in Siberian soils: a factor in the greenhouse effect

    1993 IP Semiletov Wintertime CO2 Emission from Soils of Northeastern Siberia

    1993 IP Semiletov Ancient ice air content of the Vostok Ice Core

    1994 IP Semiletov Cosmic rays as a factor for the sink of atmospheric CO 2

    1996 IP Semiletov Siberian CO2 efflux in winter as a CO2 source and cause of seasonality in atmospheric CO2

    1996 IP Semiletov Atmospheric carbon emission from North Asian Lakes: a factor of global significance

    1997 IP Semiletov North Siberian lakes: a methane source fueled by Pleistocene carbon

    1999 IP Semiletov Aquatic sources and sinks of CO2 and CH4 in the polar regions

    2000 IP Semiletov Organic carbon isotope ratios (d13C) of Arctic Amerasian continental shelf sediments

    2000 IP Semiletov A climate shift in seasonal values of meteorological and hydrological parameters for Northeastern Asia

    2000 IP Semiletov The dispersion of Siberian river flows into coastal waters: meteorological, hydrological and hydrochemical aspects

    2002 IP Semiletov Carbonate chemistry dynamics in Bering Strait and the Chukchi Sea

    2002 IP Semiletov Changes in the Bering Sea region: Atmosphere—ice—water system in the second half of the twentieth century

    2002 IP Semiletov On Carbon Fluxes in the Siberian Arctic Land-Shelf System


  28. A list of papers where W Maslowski is an author. I think he heads a fairly large group, so this would explain why he is on so many titles. Amazing how much work goes into studying one part of the world by one group of people. So many interesting titles, so little time…

    Titles with no date are probably PDFs. There’s about 111 titles, 1996 – 2014.

    W Maslowski The Pacific Arctic Region
    W Maslowski Overview of ocean circulation patterns and modeling
    W Maslowski Modeling the Coupled Arctic Ocean-Sea Ice-Atmosphere System—Ocean Circulation from New Results
    W Maslowski Arctic Sea-Ice Variability in a High-Resolution Model
    W Maslowski Effects of Greenland's Runoff in a Regional Arctic System Model
    W Maslowski Seasonal and Interannual Sea-Ice Variability in a High Resolution Coupled, Arctic-Ice  Ocean Model
    W Maslowski Results of recent Paci?c-Arctic ice-ocean modeling studies at the
    W Maslowski Advanced Modeling Studies of the Arctic Ocean and Sea Ice—Toward Better Understanding of the Arctic System
           W Maslowski  The Climate-Ocean Regime Shift Hypothesis of the Steller Sea Lion Decline

    1996 W Maslowski Numerical simulations of topographic Rossby waves along the East Greenland Front

    1998 W Maslowski Geophysical signatures from precise altimetric height measurements in the Arctic Ocean

    1999 W Maslowski Impact of mesoscale ocean currents on sea ice in high-resolution Arctic ice and ocean

    1999 W Maslowski Arctic Ocean Science from Submarines. A Report Based on the SCICEX 2000 Workshop

    2000 W Maslowski Modeling recent climate variability in the Arctic Ocean

    2000 W Maslowski Researchers explore Arctic freshwater’;s role in ocean circulation

    2000 W Maslowski Tracer studies of the Arctic freshwater budget

    2000 W Maslowski Role of hydrology in the Arctic Ocean and sea ice system

    2001 W Maslowski On large-scale shifts in the Arctic Ocean and sea-ice conditions during 1979–98

    2001 W Maslowski Adrift in the Beaufort Gyre: A model intercomparison

    2001 W Maslowski Multinational effort studies differences among Arctic Ocean models

    2002 W Maslowski Circulation of the Baltic Sea and its connection to the Pan-Arctic region-a large scale
    and high-resolution modeling approach

    2002 W Maslowski Variability of the Arctic Ocean Sea Surface Heights: Model Intercomparison Results

    2002 W Maslowski On The Atlantic Water Inflow Into The Arctic Ocean

    2003 W Maslowski High resolution simulations of Arctic sea ice, 1979–1993

    2003 W Maslowski Modeled arctic-subarctic ocean fluxes during 1979-2001

    2003 W Maslowski Mesoscale structures in the subarctic seas-observations and modelling

    2003 W Maslowski On Arctic Environmental Change-1979-2001 coupled ice-ocean model results

    2004 W Maslowski On climatological mass, heat, and salt transports through the Barents Sea and Fram
    Strait from a pan-Arctic coupled ice-ocean model simulation

    2004 W Maslowski Decadal shifts in biophysical forcing of Arctic marine food webs: numerical

    2004 W Maslowski Comparing modeled streamfunction, heat and freshwater content in the Arctic Ocean

    2004 W Maslowski Freshwater Fluxes from the Arctic into the North Atlantic Ocean: 1979-2002 Model

    2004 W Maslowski Recent Change of Arctic Sea Ice Cover

    2005 W Maslowski Seasonal changes in POC export flux in the Chukchi Sea and implications for water
    column-benthic coupling in Arctic shelves

    2005 W Maslowski Ocean circulation and exchanges through the northern Bering Sea—1979–2001 model results

    2005 W Maslowski A numerical model of seasonal primary production within the Chukchi/Beaufort Seas

    2005 W Maslowski Arctic Ocean study: Synthesis of model results and observations

    2005 W Maslowski On large outflows of Arctic sea ice into the Barents Sea

    2005 W Maslowski Global impacts of Arctic climate processes

    2005 W Maslowski Modelowanie dzialan operatora w sterowaniu wieloagentowym podsystemem transportowym w systemie wytwarzania

    2006 W Maslowski State of the Arctic Report.

    2006 W Maslowski Influence of sea ice on the atmosphere: A study with an Arctic atmospheric regional
    climate model

    2006 W Maslowski On oceanic forcing of Arctic climate change

    2006 W Maslowski Atmospheric Forcing, Sea-Ice Interannual Variability, and Ocean Current Impacts on the
    Availability of Bowhead Whale Prey Near Barrow, AK

    2007 W Maslowski Bottom-up forcing and the decline of Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) in Alaska:
    assessing the ocean climate hypothesis

    2007 W Maslowski Water properties and circulation in Arctic Ocean models

    2007 W Maslowski Ridging, strength, and stability in high-resolution sea ice models

    2007 W Maslowski Sea level variability in the Arctic Ocean from AOMIP models

    2007 W Maslowski Toward prediction of environmental Arctic change

    2007 W Maslowski Investigation of the summer Kara Sea circulation employing a variational data
    assimilation technique

    2007 W Maslowski Understanding recent variability in the Arctic sea ice thickness and volume-synthesis
    of model results and observations

    2007 W Maslowski On the Relative Importance of Freshwater Fluxes and Variability From the Arctic Ocean
    into the North Atlantic

    2007 W Maslowski Atmospheric forcing, sea-ice, and ocean current impacts on zooplankton abundance in the
    western Arctic Ocean

    2007 W Maslowski Oceanic Forcing of Arctic Sea Ice Melt

    2008 W Maslowski Variability of sea ice simulations assessed with RGPS kinematics

    2008 W Maslowski Freshwater distribution in the Arctic Ocean: Simulation with a high-resolution model
    and model-data comparison

    2008 W Maslowski Euphausiid transport in the western Arctic Ocean

    2008 W Maslowski Towards Eddy-Resolving Models of the Arctic Ocean

    2008 W Maslowski Arctic sea ice variability during the last half century

    2008 W Maslowski Results of recent Pacific-Arctic ice-ocean modeling studies at the Naval Postgraduate

    2008 W Maslowski When will summer Arctic sea ice disappear

    2008 W Maslowski Deciphering the causality and rate of warming in the Arctic Ocean

    2008 W Maslowski State of the Arctic sea ice

    2008 W Maslowski Climate Change and Sustainability: Connecting Atmospheric, Ocean and Climate Science
    with Public Literacy

    2008 W Maslowski A Comprehensive Modeling Approach Towards Understanding and Prediction of the Alaskan Coastal System Response to Changes in an Ice-diminished Arctic

    2008 W Maslowski Why global climate model predictions of Arctic warming are too conservative?

    2008 W Maslowski 2008 Report for the Project Entitled: A Comprehensive Modeling Approach Towards
    Understanding and Prediction of the Alaskan Coastal System Response to …

    2008 W Maslowski Oceanic Forcing of Arctic Sea Ice

    2009 W Maslowski Mass and heat transports in the NE Barents Sea: Observations and models

    2009 W Maslowski Oceanic Heat Contribution to Arctic Sea Ice Melt

    2009 W Maslowski Towards development of a Regional Arctic Climate System Model—Coupling WRF with the Variable Infiltration Capacity land model via a flux coupler

    2010 W Maslowski Climate variability, oceanography, bowhead whale distribution, and Iñupiat subsistence
    whaling near Barrow, Alaska

    2010 W Maslowski Air-sea flux of CO2 in the Arctic Ocean, 1998–2003

    2010 W Maslowski A Science Plan for Regional Arctic System Modeling, A report to the National Science
    Foundation from the International Arctic Science Community.

    2010 W Maslowski A science plan for regional arctic system modeling a report by the arctic research
    community for the National Science Foundation, Office of Polar Programs

    2010 W Maslowski Arctic Sea Ice Thickness Distribution as an Indicator of Arctic Climate Change-
    Synthesis of Model Results and Observations

    2010 W Maslowski The Effect of Warming Arctic Climate on Coupling Between the Sea Ice Cover and the
    Upper Ocean

    2010 W Maslowski Understanding the Importance of Oceanic Forcing on Arctic Sea Ice Variability

    2011 W Maslowski Trophic cascades and future harmful algal blooms within ice-free Arctic Seas north of
    Bering Strait: a simulation analysis

    2011 W Maslowski Regional Arctic Climate System Model (RACM)–Development and Selected Results

    2011 W Maslowski The land surface climatology of the Variable Infiltration Capacity model coupled within
    the NCAR Community Climate System Model

    2011 W Maslowski The sensitivity of a high-resolution pan-Arctic coupled ice-ocean model to atmospheric
    forcing data

    2011 W Maslowski High frequency and wavenumber ocean-ice-atmosphere coupling in the Regional Arctic
    Climate Model

    2011 W Maslowski Modeling the Arctic Atmosphere with the Regional Arctic Climate Model (RACM)

    2011 W Maslowski Modeling Coupled Feedback Processes in Arctic Climate Using Ice-Ocean and Fully Coupled Regional Climate Models

    2011 W Maslowski Evaluation of Arctic Sea Ice Thickness Simulated by AOMIP Models

    2012 W Maslowski The future of Arctic sea ice

    2012 W Maslowski Evaluation and control mechanisms of volume and freshwater export through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago in a high-resolution pan-Arctic ice-ocean …

    2012 W Maslowski Evaluation of Arctic sea ice thickness simulated by Arctic Ocean Model Intercomparison
    Project models

    2012 W Maslowski On the oceanic communication between the Western Subarctic Gyre and the deep Bering Sea

    2012 W Maslowski Marginal Ice Zone (MIZ) Program: Science and Experiment Plan

    2012 W Maslowski Evaluation of Sea Ice Kinematics and their Impact on Ice Thickness Distribution in the

    2012 W Maslowski On Prediction and Predictability of the Arctic Climate System

    2012 W Maslowski The Regional Arctic System Model: Successes, Challenges and Opportunities

    2012 W Maslowski Sensitivity of the Regional Arctic System Model surface climate to ice-ocean state

    2013 W Maslowski Physically Consistent Eddy-resolving State Estimation and Prediction of the Coupled
    Pan-Arctic Climate System at Daily to Interannual Time Scales Using the …

    2013 W Maslowski Ice-ocean-atmosphere coupling in the Regional Arctic System Model

    2013 W Maslowski Ice-Ocean Interaction at Seasonal to Decadal Scales in the Regional Arctic System Model

    2013 W Maslowski Coupled Streamflow Routing in the Regional Arctic System Model (RASM)

    2013 W Maslowski Modeling Arctic Climate with a Regional Arctic System Model (RASM)

    2014 W Maslowski On the flow through Bering Strait: A synthesis of model results and observations

    2014 W Maslowski Progress and challenges in biogeochemical modeling of the Pacific Arctic Region

    2014 W Maslowski Recent variability in sea ice cover, age, and thickness in the Pacific Arctic region

    2014 W Maslowski The Large Scale Ocean Circulation and Physical Processes Controlling Pacific-Arctic

    2014 W Maslowski On the Role of the Arctic Ocean in Polar Amplification

    2014 W Maslowski The Pacific Arctic Region: Ecosystem Status and Trends in a Rapidly Changing

    2014 W Maslowski The Pacific Arctic Region: An Introduction

    2014 W Maslowski A modelling study of co-variability of the two-branched Atlantic water inflow to the
    Arctic Ocean


    1. Some formatting problems that are at least partly wordpress bugs. Preview <> Published view!! i.e., some 2-line titles came out as 3-line…
      Don’t know why the top section came out in the white screen.


  29. Youtube: Top Ten Natural Disasters
    Section starts at 46:45
    Mega-flood 10,000 years ago.
    Civilization that preceded Egypt is inundated and its remnants scattered but not forgotten.
    Noah’s flood? Or… Noah’s flood #n?
    On its way: Noah’s flood #n+1.
    People get ready.


    1. It gets worse. And it all hinges on something that didn’t happen in 2011, the clathrate gun firing. Also, note the supposed increasing methane, which was also increasing at a similar rate before 2000 (not shown). The clathrate gun firing had zero impact on the rate of change of atmospheric methane. Funny that. Can these guys be any crazier?


      1. No, no, GM has assured us repeatedly that the clathrate gun fired in 2007. He had it on the authority of none other than Malcolm Light.


    2. mikeroberts said:

      It gets worse. And it all hinges on something that didn’t happen in 2011, the clathrate gun firing. Also, note the supposed increasing methane, which was also increasing at a similar rate before 2000 (not shown). The clathrate gun firing had zero impact on the rate of change of atmospheric methane. Funny that. Can these guys be any crazier?

      I think they could be crazier. The Independent article that quotes Semiletov in 2008 was quoted by Romm in the context of the first uptick in many years of global methane concentration that happened the year before, in 2007. i.e., the year of the huge spike in arctic ice loss. I ran some numbers and the very uncertain numbers Shakhova has suggested for methane emissions from the ESAS (which I believe she described as “conservative”) fall neatly into a believable range for contributing to that new rise in global methane. It’s also not hard to believe that they didn’t all of a sudden come out of nowhere, but that there was a gradual rise from imperceptible to easy to see over the previous decade or two. It’s probably crazier to think it’s impossible for the two observations to be linked (global rise + ESAS emissions).


      1. Well, this latest graphic novel states that the gun fired in 2011. I wonder if McPherson noticed.

        I’m not sure I’ve seen a good explanation for the level period of 2000-2006. But wasn’t it around 2007 that fracking started to become profitable? I don’t know if that’s contributed to the resumption of the trend prior to 2000; According to NOAA: “Causes for the recent increases include warm temperatures in the Arctic in 2007 and increased precipitation in the tropics in 2007 and 2008 [Dlugokencky et al., 2009]”. Carana and Light cherry pick methane readings. The ESRL/GMD data that the poster claims to be the source, doesn’t show anything like the 2014 reading given in the poster. And mentioning Metop-1 data is disingenuous as he has never plotted just Metop-1 data before, as far as I know, though he has taken Metop-1 data and mixed it up with other data. Metop-1 is showing very low readings right now.


      2. Thanks for the links, SJ. Some light reading, on the first one. :) As I thought, there isn’t a really good answer on this. But it sure gives the clathrate gun crowd some ammunition.


      3. There’s a lot of possibilities for sources and a lot of controversy over data and methods. But the extremists have that grain of truth that likes to be suppressed by the establishment. Just like al kaeda is the whipping boy for the US government who created them by

        a) oppressing their people and pillaging their land and their resources
        b) arming and training them and then provoking and aggravating the conditions that would motivate them even more by destroying Iraq and conducting a video murder campaign with drones, etc., etc. and then continuing to arm them.

        So, yeah, the extremists are wrong and ridiculous in many ways, but the underlying truth is still real and scary.

        Pardon the far-flung analogy, but even Socrates said, why waste your effort on the little things when the truth is writ big in the sky.

        We’re little more than an aerosol haze separated from the +1.5C mark that many studies say is the point at which the permafrost feedbacks click in in earnest, after which it doesn’t matter what you do to control global warming. You don’t have to go too radical to hear this. Ask James Hansen.


      4. We’re little more than an aerosol haze separated from the +1.5C mark that many studies say is the point at which the permafrost feedbacks click in in earnest, after which it doesn’t matter what you do to control global warming.

        [citations needed]


      5. Bill, I’ve no doubt that the underlying story is grave but I don’t think anything is gained by wild unfounded speculation of the Carana and Light variety.

        Regarding 1.5 degrees, the only time I recall seeing that number is in relation the action of microbes (which McPherson incorrectly records as a current feedback) as given in this article. I too think we’re very close to that, without the protection of our aerosols. But timescales is the tricky bit. What might be deadly over a few decades may not be deadly over a few millennia. But we don’t know the timescales.

        The temperature anomaly for 2014, relative to preindustrial times, was 0.94C, in the HADCRUT4 data. The figure 0.8C of warming is often bandied about even though the IPCC report gave it as 0.85C. But 2014 was tied, statistically, with 2010, which is at 0.93C, in the HADCRUT4 data. So I think we should be talking about 0.94/0.93 C anomaly, now. And that from a dataset that may underestimate the warming in the Arctic (though that has slowed over the last several years, apparently). So we’re very close, now, to the Hansen limit of dangerous warming, with surely enough in the pipeline to take us over that, and with aerosols protecting us from much more than that extra 0.7C.


      6. This is a non-detailed summary that substantiates most of my claim, but the source document, his “IPCC-alternative” or Hansen-contra-IPCC,

        Assessing ‘‘Dangerous Climate Change’’: Required Reduction of Carbon Emissions to Protect Young People, Future Generations and Nature

        I believe, has all the details.

        Evidence presented under Climate Impacts above makes clear that 2C global warming would have consequences that can be described as disastrous. Multiple studies [12,198,201] show that the warming would be very long lasting. The paleoclimate record and changes underway in the Arctic and on the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets with only today’s warming imply that sea level
        rise of several meters could be expected. Increased climate extremes, already apparent at 0.8C warming [46], would be more severe. Coral reefs and associated species, already stressed with current conditions [40], would be decimated by increased acidification, temperature and sea level rise. More generally,humanity and nature, the modern world as we know it, is adapted
        to the Holocene climate that has existed more than 10,000 years.Warming of 1C relative to 1880–1920 keeps global temperature close to the Holocene range, but warming of 2C, to at least the Eemian level, could cause major dislocations for civilization. However, distinctions between pathways aimed at ,1uC and 2C warming are much greater and more fundamental than the
        numbers 1C and 2C themselves might suggest. These fundamental distinctions make scenarios with 2C or more global warming far more dangerous; so dangerous, we suggest, that aiming for the 2C pathway would be foolhardy.

        His argument is heating much above 1C is likely to lock in ice sheet melt and albedo changes that will take temps to 3C or more and along the way trigger further CO2 and methane releases from the tundra and the shallow parts of the Arctic Ocean. And he makes the point that paleo data cannot set an upper limit to the dangers since energy imbalance has never been this extreme, i.e. there is no adequate paleo analog to the present situation.


      7. Over what timeframe?

        Does this really support the idea that “it doesn’t matter what you do to control global warming” once you cross the +1.5C line?


      8. 1.5C may be too low or too definite a number for Hansen’s paper—he uses 2C to be unassailable, which is what he needs in a court of law. His paper is what he intends to use as the scientific basis when he sues governments to make them do the right thing. He has to expect he will be challenged by the most ruthless and clever scientists in the denier’s arsenal.

        But it seems I’ve heard him refer to a lower threshold in some of his videos. And there is this paper from 2013 that used stalagtites and stalagmites in caves as proxies for the threshold temperature. For regions of continuous permafrost that temperature was +1.5C.

        As for timeframes, his timeframe is the lifetime of anthropogenic CO2. He appears to use a curve that flattens out at 20% remaining after 500 years.

        Some excerpts:

        Page 15
        There is a possibility of rapid methane hydrate or permafrost emissions in response to warming, but that risk is largely unquantified [215]. The time needed to destabilize large methane hydrate deposits in deep sediments is likely millennia [215]. Smaller but still large methane hydrate amounts below shallow waters as in the Arctic Ocean are more vulnerable; the methane may oxidize to CO2 in the water, but it will still add to the longterm burden of CO2 in the carbon cycle. Terrestrial permafrost emissions of CH4 and CO2 likely can occur on a time scale of a few decades to several centuries if global warming continues [215]. These time scales are within the lifetime of anthropogenic CO2, and thus these feedbacks must be considered in estimating the dangerous level of global warming. Because human-made warming is more rapid than natural long-term warmings in the past, there is concern that methane hydrate or peat feedbacks could be more rapid than the feedbacks that exist in the paleoclimate record.

        Page 15
        Third, with our 1C scenario it is more likely that the biosphere and soil will be able to sequester a substantial portion ofthe anthropogenic fossil fuel CO2 carbon than in the case of 2C or more global warming. Empirical data for the CO2 ‘‘airborne fraction’’, the ratio of observed atmospheric CO2 increase divided by fossil fuel CO2 emissions, show that almost half of the emissions is being taken up by surface (terrestrial and ocean) carbon reservoirs [187], despite a substantial but poorly measured contribution of anthropogenic land use (deforestation and agriculture) to airborne CO2 [179,216]. Indeed, uptake of CO2 by surface reservoirs has at least kept pace with the rapid growth of emissions [187]. Increased uptake in the past decade may be a consequence of a reduced rate of deforestation [217] and fertilization of the biosphere by atmospheric CO2 and nitrogen deposition [187]. With the stable climate of the ,1C scenario it is plausible that major efforts in reforestation and improved agricultural practices [15,173,175–177], with appropriate support provided to developing countries, could take up an amount of carbon comparable to the 100 GtC in our 1C scenario. On the other hand, with warming of 2C or more, carbon cycle feedbacks are expected to lead to substantial additional atmospheric CO2 [218–219], perhaps even making the Amazon rainforest a source of CO2 [219–220].


      9. mikeroberts says:
        “Bill, I’ve no doubt that the underlying story is grave but I don’t think anything is gained by wild unfounded speculation of the Carana and Light variety.”

        From my perspective, it does because it opened my eyes. From your perspective, that may have been a bad thing.

        I would rather have over-the-top than under-the-rug.

        mikeroberts wrote:
        “But we don’t know the timescales”

        We don’t know timescales for how it all eventually plays out but we don’t need to know all that. We know enough that we don’t want to get even close to the point where we run out of options.

        Hansen points out, as many others have—like the recent discussion about the Jeremy Jackson questioner—that there is inertia in FF investments. Once you build them you are going to use them. So, it’s critical that we get our heads straight and make the right choices. The more I think about Fee & Dividend the more obvious it becomes. It’s really the only answer other than war, disaster and revolution. And it hurts nobody other than rich people’s feelings for a second or two.


      10. Bill, if you want to open your eyes to misinformation, just read any newspaper. I wouldn’t call the kind of stuff churned out by Carana as “opening one’s eyes”. It’s misinformation, plain and simple. I’m not sure what it’s intended to do – perhaps sell razor blades – as Carana has his climate plan blog, anyway, where he thinks this is all solvable, even though the clathrate gun has apparently fired. No, I can’t imagine his stuff opening eyes, though it seems to attract ultra doomers (which many people think I am, but I can’t hold a candle to some).

        We don’t know timescales for how it all eventually plays out but we don’t need to know all that. We know enough that we don’t want to get even close to the point where we run out of options.

        I disagree but then I’m not surprised. Whilst one may not be able to adapt to abrupt changes on human timescales, some may be able to adapt to them on millennial timescales, for example. No, timescales are very important and affect those options.


      11. mike, Hansen’s argument goes something like this—a first approximation at his argument which, to do it complete justice, requires more detail—at least a second approximation.


        2C above pre-industrial is widely believed to be equivalent to a CO2 concentration of 1000 ppm. (+1C is equivalent to 500ppm). At 1000 ppm, slow feedbacks (CO2-methane, ice sheet loss) would kick in, taking the climate to +3C and possibly more. We want to keep warming to a level that doesn’t kick in the slow feedbacks. And it’s a sliding scale. There is evidence that some slow feedbacks have already kicked in, so the warmer it gets the more danger of it getting out of control. For instance, at close to +1C, there is good probability that we can draw down on the order of 100GtC through proper management of agricultural soils and forests. This is a huge advantage for keeping CO2 levels under control. The closer you get to +2C, the less likely the soil/forest management will be possible.

        Going to 1000ppm pretty much commits you to +3C, an inhospitable world and many meters of sea level rise plus major species extinction and ecosystem disruption. Definite timeframes are forthcoming—around the time it’s already too late.


      12. bill shockley wrote:
        2C above pre-industrial is widely believed to be equivalent to a CO2 concentration of 1000 ppm. (+1C is equivalent to 500ppm). At 1000 ppm, slow feedbacks (CO2-methane, ice sheet loss) would kick in, taking the climate to +3C and possibly more.

        And nobody has called me out on this yet…

        500GtC and 1000GtC for 1C and 2C.
        Couldn’t sleep thinking about this.
        He’s using GtC because the argument relates closely to the carbon budget and the inertia of the FF infrastructure, which emits Gt—not ppm.

        Same mistake throughout my post.
        Just seeing if anyone’s paying attention.
        Apparently not.
        I would have been prepared to defend to the death, however, if he HAD been saying ppm.


  30. Will, For whatever reason, it does look like man is making a mad dash for the finish line. Supposedly a low yield nuclear weapon went off in the Ukraine. Some have said it was a munitions depot,

    Then there’s this,

    Scientists urge global ‘wake-up call’ to deal with climate change
    Climate change has advanced so rapidly that work must start on unproven technologies now, admits US National Academy of Science

    Gotta love people


      1. Thanks SJ. Looks like we dodged another one. Just waiting to see how long our luck will hold out.


  31. Sea level rise:
    Youtube: Earth Under Water in Next 20 Years – National Geographic [1080p HD]
    Uploaded: June, 2014

    Rahmstorf (didn’t realize he was Potsdam U), Hansen, other experts interviewed. Seems like expert opinion is pretty sure sea level will rise 2 meters this century. Next century is more speculative, depending on how fossil fuels play out, but worst case is another 3 meters (they might have said 5 meters). Then the rest of the ice in the world in the following century or two.

    Of course, I don’t think they’re taking into account what happens to food supply, ocean health and a million other things that would have to happen if sea level were to keep going up—in other words the negative feedback of human population decline.

    Really iffy scenarios, but it shows what experts are thinking seriously about. $2.5 Billion being spent right now to protect New Orleans. I think they said $10B to protect New York—up to a point. A quarter trillion to cut off the Mediteranian from the ocean at the Strait of Gibraltar. What the world would look like in a few centuries when all the ice is melted. Floating cities.

    The first of the scenarios starts with Miami and the tremendous billions of dollars of assets that W I L L be abandoned this century. Jeremy Jackson (not in this doc) says the next Cat 5 storm will start things off.

    There is a sea change of understanding and opinion.


    1. That survey was before the recent discovery of all that heat in the Southern Ocean that the models said was not there. What would the survey say now?


      1. Your article in ars complicates the issue. We have the good argo float data for more than a decade—why complicate that data with issues of the weaker data before and the issues of transition? Hansen seems overjoyed (2012) with the greatly increased certainty provided by almost a decade of argo float data and the resulting ability to narrow the uncertainty for the value of planetary energy imbalance.
        Improving observations of ocean heat content show that Earth is absorbing more energy from the Sun than it is radiating to space as heat, even during the recentsolar minimum. The inferred planetary energy imbalance, 0.58 ± 0.15 W m−2 during the 6-yr period 2005–2010, confirms the dominant role of the human-made greenhouse effect in driving global climate change. Observed surface temperature change and ocean heat gain together constrain the net climate forcing and ocean mixing rates. We conclude that most climate models mix heat too efficiently into the deep ocean and as a result underestimate the negative forcing by human-made aerosols

        Also, the same year from a TED talk:
        Now finally, we can measure Earth’s energy imbalance precisely by measuring the heat content in Earth’s heat reservoirs. The biggest reservoir, the ocean, was the least well measured, until more than 3,000 Argo floats were distributed around the world’s ocean. These floats reveal that the upper half of the ocean is gaining heat at a substantial rate. The deep ocean is also gaining heat at a smaller rate, and energy is going into the net melting of ice all around the planet. And the land, to depths of tens of meters, is also warming.


      2. I’m confused. I’m pretty sure you were thinking of the second study in my article, right? The energy budget closure stuff is a separate thing. In either case, the local temperature measurements of the shallow water beneath the Antarctic ice shelves are the relevant quantity for the current forcing, and those measurements are what they are. The uncertainties in projecting sea level rise by 2100 are going to come from a lot of places, but dotting our “i”s on some of these modern quantities isn’t really one of them.

        Unless I’m misunderstanding your point?


      3. Yeah, the thing about the uncertainty issues relating to the pre-argo ocean temps and the transition between the two eras is from your “other” ars article that is linked from the main one that you linked from here.

        There’s a bunch of issues relating to sea-level rise and the WAIS. The Mortison paper covered by the blog article I linked to details some of these issues, i.e., how the warm ocean water gets to the shelf ice.

        But there are others, among them the discovery in the last year or two that the WAIS has become irreparably unstable. I need to get into the literature more.

        Your main article and the Hansen paper I linked and quoted actually don’t disagree. But I prefer Hansen’s paper for the way it frames all the issues in terms of the certainty we’ve gained regarding earth energy imbalance as a result of the argo float initiative “we measured the heat in the ocean”, the sluggishness of most models in predicting warming because they show too much burial of heat in the deep-deep ocean, and his “on to aerosols” directive: “we need to measure the effects of aerosols”. He’s like the godfather.

        And I would appreciate if you could back up your argument that the models were right about Southern Ocean heat content and the measurements were wrong. Maybe you were talking about different models or maybe you have a different idea of “ocean heat content”.


      4. Ah, I see. So this one?
        You don’t want to ditch the tons of data that exist pre-Argo, and Argo doesn’t quite solve the “missing heat” puzzle, either. I think I asked Kevin Trenberth a question about this at a presser not that long ago, and he mentioned it was a topic he was still actively working on. After all, Argo’s coverage isn’t perfect (see: sea ice), and the deep profilers are only starting to be deployed. Don’t overestimate the importance of that puzzle, though. It’s cleaning up the ledger, not deciding whether humans are having an impact or anything huge like that.

        My “argument” about the Southern Ocean was in the post I linked:
        The second paper I described there ( is, I believe, the one you were recalling.


      5. Thanks. I didn’t even get to the 2 main papers of your article. I’ve got so many burners going now, this may take a while.


  32. This is a blog article from 2010 about a paper by Doug Martinson about ocean water heating of the West-Antarctic Ice Shelf. He’s been down there studying the water and the ice and the atmosphere for 18 years. His deferential style in answering questions in the comment section, plus his long in-situ field experience impress me. He’s got about 70 published papers, going back to 1981. To not clog up Scott’s blog I’m trying a free cloud service to store my files. This is the link to the text file with Mortinson’s list of papers:!oRU3BYAB!nL31PDxMXUMRef6fW0IdJ2frBGPB8O7VIRJzAbXfOQc
    You should see a red download button to download a file named titleList_Mortinson.txt .
    This is my first time using MEGA, so I don’t know how well it works. In the old days my ISP gave me a few MB of space on an FTP server and it worked really well. Now, with the cloud services I can’t find one that allows you to, for example, post a link to an image and have the image appear within the comment. Instead, you get the literal link and it takes you to the hosting site where you view the image. Not the same thing. Same problem with text files. The old way, clicking on a .txt link would open the text file in your browser—now it takes you to the hosting service from which you can download the file and then open it as a separate file.

    I find a chronological list of a scientist’s papers tells a story. Google Scholar, as far as I know, doesn’t provide a way to neatly filter out authors with the same first initial, nor order the papers chronologically, so I spent a couple afternoons writing a program that does it without too much added trouble (just create a list of keywords that are likely to be included in the titles). That’s how I generate the nice lists. They would also be helpful if you get to the library and want to download a bunch of papers.


  33. -Cheap fusion energy.
    -Equivalent of $3/bbl oil.
    -No nuclear waste.
    -Developmental prototype reactor section (doesn’t include the electricity capture part) is the size of a water bottle.
    -Projected cost through engineering prototype: $2 million.
    -Projected time through engineering prototype: 6 years.
    -No takers!

    Youtube: Focus Fusion: The Fastest Route to Cheap, Clean Energy
    1 hour 4 minutes.
    Very convincing.
    JPL likes the idea because it could power a rocket to Mars in 4 weeks.


  34. Two generations of CIA whistle blowers. I’ve been knowing the John Stockwell stuff for a few years. Have been amazed at how simply he states the facts and how they corroborate by eye witness what Chomsky writes, about the illegal, clandestine activities of the US “Intelligence” agencies. Stockwell, however, is more explicit (from what I’ve read so far of Chomsky’s) about the CIA’s role in how America’s presidents are chosen.

    This morning I came across the Fletcher Prouty interview and was impressed by the similarity in tone and content to the Stockwell interviews. Same experience, a generation earlier (although the interviews were probably nearly contemporaneous). Prouty takes us back to the early days of US oil greed and shows how the seeds of war in Korea and Vietnam were planted as WWII was just ending. Haven’t watched much of the Prouty interview, so I’m guessing a little.

    Both Stockwell (113) and Prouty (22) have well stocked popular video channels on Youtube.

    jeff steinberg interview
    Fletcher Prouty

    Leroy Fletcher Prouty (January 24, 1917 – June 5, 2001)[1] served as Chief of Special Operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President John F. Kennedy. A former colonel in the United States Air Force, he retired from military service to become a bank executive, and subsequently became a critic of U.S. foreign policy, particularly the covert activities of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) about which he had considerable inside knowledge. Prouty was the inspiration for the character “Mr. X” in Oliver Stone’s movie JFK.[2]

    John Stockwell on the Election of George [HW] Bush.flv
    Uploaded on Jan 8, 2010

    John R. Stockwell (born 1937) is a former CIA officer who became a critic of United States government policies after serving seven tours of duty over thirteen years. Having managed American involvement in the Angolan Civil War as Chief of the Angola Task Force during its 1975 covert operations, he resigned and wrote In Search of Enemies.


      1. Tyler, Landbeyond, and All…

        It surprises me that independent media such as Counterpunch (aka Robert Hunziker) and Truth Out (aka Dahr Jamail) can fail to vet sources and see the larger picture that abrupt climate change is not actually happening, though it still is a possibility. I’m grateful to this blog for awakening me to this.

        Thanks, Scott! (and others…)



      2. I think you’re right, Balan. There doesn’t seem to be much evidence that abrupt climate change is happening now (where “abrupt” is in human terms) and the longer Guy, and others try to get people to believe that it is, the less credible they will become. As you say, there is still a big risk that abrupt change will happen. The paleo data seem to show very abrupt upward spikes of temperature but slow declines. We don’t appear to be in an abrupt spike at the moment but the risk remains.That’s not to say that the inexorable heat build up that we’re currently experiencing will not lead to horrendous consequences (and some of those may be abrupt) but the an abrupt rise would turn it into a catastrophe in double quick time.


      3. What is abrupt and what does it matter? Seems like a red herring to me. I just watched about 10 videos, most featuring the clearest voices on the problem from their respective two countries—James Hansen and Kevin Anderson—and the nitpicking of that distinction didn’t come up. They’re both thinking about and vigorously preparing for an opportunity that is coming up in December of this year in Paris, but not putting all their hope-eggs in that one basket.


      4. @ Bill

        Yeah, the distinction of “abrupt” is really arbitrary in a sense, I agree, but not for the reasons you suggest of not putting all your eggs in one basket. Rather, I believe, in a real sense that the climate change we are facing already is in many way abrupt when considering geological time scales, and then again, somewhat so even on human time scales as the jet stream destabilizes, Earth increasingly experiences desertification, and even minor rises in sea level. However, when it comes to 10-30 year predictions of eminent demise, this might be in a category all its own, even beyond abrupt, maybe deemed something akin to hyper-abrupt climate change. And there is so far a lot of hype in hyper-abrupt climate change predictions from the evidence discussed on this blog.



        Liked by 1 person

  35. Hi Balan,

    Not sure how you relate my “eggs in one basket” comment to the abrupt change quibble. What I meant by that was, Anderson, for example, is very pessimistic that anything will come of the Paris talks, so he is guarding against a big emotional letdown, and is doing his best to find other pathways. Hansen, for his part, is probably sensing the same thing and sees the necessity for revolutionary change in government and is stumping for an independent, populist party, since a strong majority of voters do not feel they are being represented.

    It boggles that something so simple, easy, and really, beautiful—a tax on carbon with 100% distribution of the funds to the people… is so effectively out of reach.

    The discussion here hits the floor with a thud. I guess the best resistance is no resistance! LOL

    As for the “abrupt” issue, I guess I really shouldn’t object to the discussion. I mean, it surely interested me even a few weeks ago. Everyone has to learn along their own path. My own opinion is that, looking back, say a few decades from now, we will see exactly how abrupt and imminent it was. The science is firming up. The sloppier scientists are going ahead with their dire predictions—like Jeremy Jackson (not sure who has his ear, but he travels in elite circles), who say we will see, within a few decades, 3 meters of sea level rise within the space of a few years. People get ready. The more precise ones, like Hansen, are couching their view in probabilities and speak of the need for more data. But, even without a definite “abruptness mandate”, the need for immediate, extreme action is certain and Hansen lays the argument and the possibilities out brilliantly.


    1. Typical Guy. He rephrases the question often addressed to him, to make it easier to answer. The question is not can humans survive a rapid rise in temperature but how does the science lead inevitably to such a rapid rise in temperature, so soon, that virtually all species (including humans) will become extinct in a couple of decades or so? He also claims abrupt climate change started in the last few years. Yet, miraculously, surface temperatures (critical for humans and land living species) have only increased rather slowly, compared to the years when abrupt climate change was supposedly not underway. He then takes leaps and bounds (some plants will go extinct and humans need plants – without plants they can’t survive).

      So he continues to give no scientifically valid path to NTHE within two or three decades, just vague ramblings. Yes, it looks like it’s going to get bad, really bad. Total extinction? Who knows. Certainly not Guy.

      However, meanwhile, the Arctic sea ice extent is looking pretty scary right now.


  36. Last year, Michael E. Mann told me it is almost certain that there will be great suffering by 2040 if we don’t do something about escalating emissions.


      1. I strongly doubt that things are going to look a whole lot worse come 2050 than it does now. Fast forward in a time machine and people are still going to be grousing about this, that and the other. There’s still going to be wars all over the globe, still going to be cars and factories pumping out C02, still going to be one disaster after another. After another. The only difference will be that that things will be ever so slightly worse than it is today as we continue our VERY slow but inevitable decline. Travel forward a thousand years or so and we might see a noticeable worsening in the climate.


      2. There are about 55 million deaths per year, now. An extra million may be lost in the noise. Deaths always cause great suffering for many people but it will be hard to highlight deaths from climate change, in light of the statistics, as increasing that suffering much.

        I’m surprised John thinks that not much would have changed by 2050 (I sometimes think there are two Johns). There are so many limits being breached now that I feel sure that the world will look quite different by then. I doubt I’ll be around to check but I might still be around when 2C is reached. However, I expect major impacts long before then, and that is just with climate change, never mind all the other environmental and economic limits that we’re up against. Remember that we’re already seeing impacts from warming and ocean acidification, at 0.89C. It isn’t going to tip into catastrophe at 2035, or 2050, as it will already be catastrophic for many (IMO) but the catastrophes will become more widespread and, if tipping points are reached, we could then see very rapid deterioration which would engulf far more people. I would expect premature deaths in the tens or hundreds of millions per year, over and above the “natural” death rate. They could be from drought, heat, cold, flooding, storms, starvation, pestilence and wars.


      3. Actually, there are two Johns! I failed to consider until now that you guys don’t see email addresses, which is how I keep the two apart! The other John was, in point of fact, the first John, but does not post as often, and hasn’t in a few months. (I just checked.) Also, he started signing as John S. after John #2 arrived.


    1. I noticed that Tyler asked Guy whether what I said above (that Guy foresees 20C or greater warming around 2040) was true and, in classic fashion, he replied:

      Tyler, thanks for dredging up that liar Scott Johnson again. I’m shocked — shocked, I say — to learn he continues to misrepresent me and my work. The best approach with him: Read carefully to what he writes, and conclude the opposite is true.

      I won’t take that literally and assume that Guy is now predicting 20C cooling around 2040, but I will go back to his “Climate change summary and update” post to wonder why he thinks he can say that. A few quotes from that post follow:

      “Writing on 28 November 2013 and tacking on only one feedback loop — methane release from the Arctic Ocean — Sam Carana expects global temperature anomalies up to 20 C 2050.”
      “At the 11:20 mark of this video, climate scientist Paul Beckwith indicates Earth could warm by 6 C within a decade (he drops the “could” in reinforcing the point in a 25 November 2014 video, “Abrupt climate change is underway already”, and he also concludes Earth could experience a 16 C temperature rise, albeit from 5 C lower than today’s global-average temperature).”

      In case that last one seems weak (it’s also a little mangled, like several statements he has tried to edit after I criticized them), here’s Guy referring to it in a comment at Radio Ecoshock: “Has anybody here actually watched the Beckwith videos? In this one, from October 2012, he anticipates up to a 6 C temperature rise within a decade or so: And, from December 2013, he describes up to 16 C temperature rise in less than two decades: In both cases, he uses the past as analogs for the near future, unless I’m misinterpreting them. Am I?”

      When I tried to explain that Beckwith was describing past D-O events, not predicting the next 20 years, and that those temperatures are Greenland local, not global averages, he replied: “Did you bother to watch the videos? Beckwith specifically refers to global average temperatures rising 16 C in fewer than 20 years.”

      Given how frequently Guy cites these (Carana’s methane extrapolation and Beckwith’s confused D-O analogy), I think it’s fair to consider them part of his argument. (Oh hey, Tyler left this comment on a post about exactly those points!) If Guy had responded, “Not 2040, 2050!” I could issue a mea culpa for failing to reflect his precision. But Guy clearly pushes these cartoon numbers. There’s no way he can deny that.


      1. That’s a weird prediction to ask someone to make. (I have to be a Nostradamus of nuclear war and asteroids, too?) But yes, I would take that bet.


      2. Well, Beckwith did seem to almost get to how McPherson misrepresented his position, earlier this year (it was something like “I wouldn’t be surprised to see temperatures rise 5-6 within a decade or two”) but in a more recent interview, he seemed to be backing away from that, following Pearson and Thomas (2015) showing that the Wright and Schaller (2014) paper likely mistook striations in a sediment core for yearly splits instead of much more likely drilling artifacts.

        Notice, though, that McPherson, sidesteps the question and, instead, accuses Scott of being a liar. This is a common tactic of his. He rarely gives a straight answer. He’d make a great politician (apart from the constant ad hominems).

        The championing of Carana, despite glaringly obvious mathematical nonsense, is pathetic, in the extreme. Still, if we get through the next 5 years, it should become clear that McPherson was a little off in his predictions.


      1. John S, I’ve seen John S. Sorry for stealing your moniker John. I don’t remember seeing you before I started posting, then I saw John S and thought you had added the S. in deference to a first John. If you want, I’ll add my last initial, and you can have the sans the S.

        SJ, I’m not actually schitzophrenic, though I suppose my posts might indicate that. As I’ve said before, yes, I am a skeptic by nature, so sometimes I post from a position of hope. But again, I know things don’t look great. Still, I’m guessing that you might agree with me that while the climate is under stress, for the most part, we’re not tallking extinction of the human race now or at anytime in the foreseeable future. I think, as with most everything else people claim, we have to learn to sift through the hype.


    1. Bill,

      Yeah, not to mention the Gulf of Mexico which I hear now largely resembles a Sess pool especially along the coasts, smells like it too. At least, that’s what I’ve heard, who knows.


      1. I hear that Guy McPherson has suffered a pulmonary embolism. I wish you well Guy, as I would imagine everyone who posts here does as well! Take it easy and enjoy some time with nature.


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