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Copenhagen Suggests Climate Issue Not Going Away

I have mentioned that I think ClimateGate will end up being one of the top stories of 2009. A number of people have commented or e-mailed me and said that the story will soon be forgotten. I don’t think so. I don’t think they realize the energy this gives to those who were skeptical. In my opinion, this will galvanize the opposition and make it much harder to get any legislation passed on climate change. (I am reading through a very comprehensive examination of the raw data and the nature of the temperature adjustments now at Watt’s Up With That?: The Smoking Gun At Darwin Zero)

Regardless of whether that view is accurate, I would be remiss if I didn’t have an essay devoted to the Copenhagen Conference. Prior to the Copenhagen conference, the Great Plains Institute, an energy-focused NGO that was going to delegates to Copenhagen, asked if I would be interested in receiving dispatches from their policy analysts about what’s happening in real-time inside the convention hall.

Here is one of those dispatches:

Copenhagen Suggests Climate Issue Not Going Away

Copenhagen, Denmark

Rolf Nordstrom, Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I arrived in Copenhagen on Monday afternoon and am still suffering a little jet lag, but I am awake enough to give you a glimpse of what the climate change conference taking place here these next two weeks looks and feels like, and how you might expect it to impact your life.

First, to give you a sense of scale, I want you to imagine that the vast Mall of America is filled not with shops of every kind, but with hundreds of booths from different organizations, temporary offices for delegates from 192 countries, vast meeting rooms set up with microphones and video screens, cafes, the mother of all cloak rooms, huge banks of computer stations (many with Skype and video capability built in), and the whole place teaming with people.

To get into this global “town hall” meeting, I waited in line with hundreds of others in order to get my picture taken and go through several security check points. Indeed, the elaborate airport-like security system rivals any major airline hub, complete with scanners and sniffing dogs. And all this only hints at the scale of this gathering.

If you don’t follow the climate change issue closely, it may seem like this conference in Copenhagen is coming out of thin air. But the international negotiating process on climate change has been going on for a long time and takes place through a series of meetings, each called a “Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change” (or COP for short). This one, COP15, is my first and by all accounts the very largest of them all, suggesting that concern over the world’s climate has grown dramatically over the past 17 years; and of course the issue of climate change has been studied by scientists for decades prior to that.

High-level ministers and negotiators from all over the world meet every year to review the implementation of the overall Convention, which was signed back in 1992 in New York (including by the U.S.). Its objective is “stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.”

If you are a climate skeptic, being at this conference would prompt you to ask yourself, “if the science behind climate change is not compelling, then how is it that essentially every major country in the world—and many you’ve never heard of (think Tuvalu or Comoros), is convinced that climate change is a real and urgent challenge? Have their scientists and elected leaders all be hoodwinked?

We tend to be a bit isolated in our thinking in the U.S., but a lack of strong action on climate change has led to demonstrations in some 4,500 locations in 170 countries, and more are taking place here in Copenhagen. An example yesterday featured people convincingly dressed as trees being followed around by a scrum of reporters with cameras and sound booms as the tree people called for a halt to deforestation and the preservation of forests in the push for new forms of energy production.

No matter what happens here, you can expect there to eventually be an international agreement that places legally-binding limits on the emission of greenhouse gases. If I were a business, I would ask myself two questions:

1) Do I think this issue will go away? In other words, can we just wait it out (like a war of attrition) and hope that climate change goes away? If your answer is “yes”, what is the evidence for this view? What leads you to believe that the world will forget about climate change?

2) If the issue is not going away, then what can I do as a business (or an individual for that matter) to position myself to flourish in a carbon-constrained world?

At a minimum, you may want to stay informed. One good way to do that is to follow the proceedings and the U.S. government’s positions here in Copenhagen through this official Web site: http://cop15.state.gov/uscenter/multimedia/index.htm

Rolf Nordstrom is executive director of the Great Plains Institute, a Minnesota-based nonpartisan, nonprofit working with Midwestern States and Canadian provinces to accelerate the transition to a sustainable and prosperous low-carbon economy.

December 11, 2009 - Posted by | climate change, Copenhagen, guest post

137 Comments

  1. An example yesterday featured people convincingly dressed as trees being followed around by a scrum of reporters with cameras and sound booms This just about says it all for me.

    Comment by rufus | December 11, 2009

  2. Yes, I would imagine it is a circus over there.RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | December 11, 2009

  3. Everybody loves a good Circus.

    Comment by rufus | December 11, 2009

  4. What a pile of steaming crap!This is Junior High stuff — everyone else is (smoking, drinking, spray-painting grafitti), why are you not doing it too?Honestly, if that is the best reason someone can give for signing up for this travesty, the whole theory of Alleged Anthropogenic Global Warming looks like a joke.First — there is absolutely no doubt among genuine scientists that the climate of Planet Earth has been continuously variable for as far back as we can peer. Current fluctuations are well within the previously-observed natural range of variability. What is the evidence that current variability is NOT natural?Second, no-one has even presented a scientific argument for anthropogenic climate change. Never! The only scientific hypothesis presented has been that anthropogenic production of CO2 leads to global WARMING. Since there is not even a scientific hypothesis for anthropogenic climate change (as opposed to warming), why would anyone who hopes to be taken seriously use the term "climate change"?The interesting thing about Climategate is that it has not really revealed any new technical information. Anyone who was paying attention knew about the warm-mongers destruction of raw data, indefensible data manipulations, and unscientific refusal to open the books. What Climategate has done is made it impossible for any serious person to pretend that they do not know about the failure of the IPCC in-crowd to observe scientific norms.At the end of the day, "Hopenhagen" will be seen as the high-water mark of this scam. Is a UK that is facing downgrading of its national debt going to borrow more money to send to the mysterious beneficiaries of Al Gore's carbon trading schemes? Is a US facing unbearable budget deficits and real un/under-employment around 20% going to throw even more people out of work in pursuit of a chimera?Houston, we have a problem!

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | December 11, 2009

  5. Kin, I just updated the story with a link I am reading through: The Smoking Gun At Darwin Zero. Interesting stuff.RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | December 11, 2009

  6. Yup, RR — Eschenbach's piece is pretty interesting. Read it yesterday.Some of this goes back to what Michael Crichton pointed out several years ago in his unusual footnoted novel "Climate of Fear" — the closer you look at specific data, the less "warming" is apparent.The "warming" only shows up in force after the data has been processed by the IPCC crowd, as Eschenbach demonstrates for one location in Australia. What influence will this have on those who have based their views on Alleged Anthropogenic Global Warming on appeals to authority?

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | December 11, 2009

  7. http://factcheck.org/2009/12/climategate/

    Comment by Anonymous | December 11, 2009

  8. RR — Here's somthing else worth adding to your reading list.http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=409454"Martin Cohen is editor of The Philosopher, and himself an environmental activist involved in many campaigns. His latest book is Mind Games (in press), which discusses the psychology of societies"The inconvenient truth may be that we humans are basically herd animals.

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | December 11, 2009

  9. Asking whether elected leaders and scientists from every country in the world have been hoodwinked is not a very compelling argument. Especially the "elected leaders" part.

    Comment by Joshua | December 11, 2009

  10. LIke many others, I have been skeptical about AGW. Several civilizations in the ancient past were wiped out by climate change, in the Tigres and Euphrates Valley area, and also the American Southwest (which grew a lot drier around 1,200 ad). Also, the Pacific Ocean has risen about 60 meters since man came to North America, abdout 15,000 years ago. What is two feet more? It may be very troubling for us, but it is hardly unprecedented. Indeed, until just a few thousand years back, Death Valley was large lake, Laken Manley. Man, will have to learn to migrate to areas with better weather, and inland a bit. All that said, I think sensible, unbiased people should look into climate matters. Silly arguments, such as "Gore makes a lot of CO2," are not impressive. Gore may be a horrible bore and hypocrite–but are rising CO2 levels a dangerous item?That is the question.

    Comment by benny "Boom, No Doom" Cole | December 12, 2009

  11. Fifty years ago school children worried about polio (real fear) and nobody noticed that it snowed gray from the coal plant down town.It just amazes me that all these people can figure out how to get to get halfway around the world in the winter but do not think we will adapt to a small temperature change in a hundred years. How many staving and sick are left behind to attend this conference. We have lost all common sense. When everyone has clean water, an adequate food, and basic immunizations, then we can work on burning less coal. China and India has the right idea.

    Comment by Kit P | December 12, 2009

  12. We're in the midst of a grand minimum,where solar spots are almost non-existent. 2008 had the fewest number of sunspots since 1913. 2009 needs only 7 more spotless days to have even fewer. I'm not convinced on AGW either. But,if ice caps are melting at this rate in the middle of a grand minimum,we could be in deep doo doo when it's over.On the other hand,if this turns out to be anything like the Maunder Minimum,we'll be damned glad the earth's a tad warmer.

    Comment by Maury | December 12, 2009

  13. Chinese Factory Output Up 19.2% from Last Year

    Comment by rufus | December 12, 2009

  14. TOTAL sea ice (Antarctic, and Arctic) was at an all-time high last year.

    Comment by rufus | December 12, 2009

  15. Climatologists have reconstructed global temperatures over the past 1000 years. The Maunder minimum matches the coldest portion of the Little Ice Age. During the medieval grand maximum it was nearly as warm as the late twentieth century.A cooling trend started in the late 13th century, as the medieval grand maximum ended. Before the coldest portion of the Little Ice Age, it was nearly as cold as the 17th century around 1350, during the Wolf minimum and around 1450, during the Spoerer minimum. The late 1700s were nearly as warm as the average for the past 1000 years, but the first part of the 19th century, during the Dalton minimum, was again quite cold.Over the last millennium global temperatures have correlated well with the amount of sunspot activity and inferred solar luminosity variations. These correlations are strong evidence, but not proof, that solar variability caused the Little Ice Age and other climate changes in the last millennium.Global warming is usually attributed to manmade causes, such as increased carbon dioxide emissions. Venus shows that carbon dioxide in a planet's atmosphere increases its temperature, so greenhouse gasses are certainly a major source of global warming. However solar variations may also contribute. If so, further curbing carbon emissions to counteract solar effects might be wise.The problem of global climate change is more complex than usually portrayed in the popular media. Scientists do not yet have all the answers.http://tinyurl.com/ybakv5k

    Comment by Maury | December 12, 2009

  16. And, despite being an El Nino year, 2009 is going to come in cooler than 2006, a "La Nina" year.

    Comment by rufus | December 12, 2009

  17. Overall, it is true that sea ice in the Antarctic is increasing.This is not actually a big surprise.In fact, it is completely in line with model expectations that CO2-dominated forcing will have a disproportionately large effect in the north. The reasons lie in the much larger amount of land in the northern hemisphere and the fact that the ocean's thermal inertia and ability to mix delay any temperature signal from the ongoing absorption of heat. The local geography also plays a dominating role. The circumpolar current acts as a buffer preventing warm water from the tropics from transporting heat to the South Pole, a buffer that does not exist in the north. You can read some more details about that here.Does it "balance out" in the end? Not really. Sea ice in the Arctic is reaching dramatic record lows. There are other components of the cryosphere that we can look at as well, permafrost, the Greenland ice sheet, global glacier mass, and these all carry the Global Warming signal.One must look at the balance of evidence, not just those bits one likes. And this balance is clearly in agreement with all other indicators that warming is real and rapid.http://tinyurl.com/y9vh9gf

    Comment by Maury | December 12, 2009

  18. Although, admittedly, we did have la nina "conditions" early in the year.Lots of differences between Earth, and Venus, Maury. For one, we measure Our CO2 in parts per million, whereas Venus' astmosphere is, what? 99% CO2, or something like that?Also, isn't the Venusian gravity a gazillion times greater than ours, or somesuch?

    Comment by rufus | December 12, 2009

  19. "… these all carry the Global Warming signal."Fair enough, Maury. Let's stipulate that all you point to is correct, for the sake of argument.Now, how do you prove that the warming we have stipulated is caused solely by human emissions of carbon dioxide?Remember that large numbers of human beings will die if we cut back fossil fuel use in error. The Precautionary Principle says that you cannot cut back fossil fuel use unless you are completely sure.

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | December 12, 2009

  20. Ah, Maury, Roald Amundsen traversed the Northwest Passage almost 100 Years, Ago.And, THERMOMETER records show no warming for Mississippi since they started reading them. It's slightly warmer here than it was in the sixties, but about the same as it was in the thirties. And, now it's cooling off."Believe" in it if you must; but I wouldn't bet the family farm on "carbon credits" if I were you. Confederate bills, and Iraqi Dinar might be a better investment.

    Comment by rufus | December 12, 2009

  21. And, then, there's the pesky little fact that CO2 effect is Logarithmic. Even the die-hard Warmers don't think that a doubling can yield more than 1.2C at this point. That puts you way out "in the weeds" looking for a "Positive" Feedback, something that's exceedingly rare in nature. That ain't no place for a poor ol' country boy to be.Then, you have all kinds of evidence that the MWP was quite a bit warmer than present. And, that the Roman Warm Period was warmer than the MWP. AND, that the holocene Optimum was warmer than the RWP. THEN, that the last interglacial was warmer than this one. And, not a TIPPING POINT in sight. It's a pretty tough sell, Bubba. A pretty tough sell.

    Comment by rufus | December 12, 2009

  22. Bastardi says, Forget Global Warming, Go Buy Some Longjohns.

    Comment by rufus | December 12, 2009

  23. Maury, I'm afraid a lot of your warming is coming from Pure Fraud, like this – Orland

    Comment by rufus | December 12, 2009

  24. Illinois Stations – To Laugh, or to Cry. I don't know

    Comment by rufus | December 12, 2009

  25. İ am curious Rufus – just where do you manage to get your tidbits of information from?İ know no one could possibly come up with so many unusual facts all by them self. You must have a Loonypedia of sorts to fall back on.İ doubt anything of any consequence will happen at Copenhagen. For one thing, when Obummer reaches there he has the authority to agree to nothing without the concurrence of the senate which will never happen in an election year.

    Comment by russ | December 12, 2009

  26. Loonypedia?:)Yeah, unfortunately, Russ, the loonypedia is in the "head of the loon."

    Comment by rufus | December 12, 2009

  27. Bad, BAD scientists! Not only faked the data but took a blowtorch to all those pretty glaciers too!

    Comment by PeteS | December 12, 2009

  28. test

    Comment by Farmer on Mars | December 12, 2009

  29. Not only faked the data but took a blowtorch to all those pretty glaciers too!Pete, that's the point I keep coming back to. It would appear – and there seems to be general agreement – that we are in a warming period. Much of the expose of what these scientists were up to seems designed to show that the globe isn't actually warming – which I don't think is a really controversial point. The controversial point is whether it is being caused by man, and Climategate does not appear to impact upon that either way.RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | December 12, 2009

  30. The Real Questions are:1) How Much has it warmed?2) Why did it warm?3) Will more CO2 emissions cause it to warm in the future?4) How Much?5) Why? Is there a "Positive" Feedback?6) Why didn't the "Positive" feedback kick in when the planet was considerably warmer during the MWP, the RWP, the Holocene Optimum, and the earlier interglacials?The "Crime" here is: We can't ascertain ANY of this without ACCURATE records. And, CRU, and GISS seem to be destroying/hiding the "Accurate" past records as quicly as possible.Also, they're blocking access to the Scientific Journals to any Scientists with opposing theories.This isn't "Science." And, the Journals, "Science," and "Nature" can, really, no longer be considered relevant.They are, now, "Advocacy" publications.

    Comment by rufus | December 12, 2009

  31. As Robert has noted, it doesn't matter what we think about AGW, it's matters what we do. And even among those generally "pro" AGW, it is not likely to be very much. The signs are that the pace of AGW is exceeding the expectations of the IPCC. All the uncertainties in the predictions are in the "worse" column.It will not be our generation that either sees the worst results of AGW or the benefits of reductions in emissions we make now.The only plus point is that fossil fuels will run out this century, limiting the amount of self-inflicted damage that can be done.I just wonder what people living in 2100 will think of us. Probably that "they didn't know any better".

    Comment by bc | December 12, 2009

  32. “that we are in a warming period”No actually! In North America, it is winter. The Dog's water is frozen and an ice storm is coming.. Please do let the coal piles freeze. Life exists on earth because the climate is relatively stable on a biological scale while the climate does change on a geological scale.What is absent from the fear mongering AGW debate is a time line with a long enough scale to define our current climate. About 40 million years age, earth entered an ice age with short (10 k years) interglacial warm periods that we are still experiencing. About 20K years ago we entered an interglacial warm period where glaciers receded until about 12k years ago. If you plot the last 20 k years a on a graph, temperature and sea level are pretty much constant. The problem with the current crowd of 'Henny Penny' claiming the sky is falling is that some of us remember claims that the climate was exiting the current warm period that saw the human civilization develop. AGW and return to glaciation are both interesting theories with a certain amount of merit. However, the climate has not changed during my lifetime but there are an awful lot of so called scientist who are confused by the meaning of the word 'is'.

    Comment by Kit P | December 12, 2009

  33. Let's get a little Context, here.

    Comment by rufus | December 12, 2009

  34. "It would appear – and there seems to be general agreement – that we are in a warming period."… The controversial point is whether it is being caused by man, and Climategate does not appear to impact upon that either way."You are reaching for straws there, RR!Remember, the alarmist view is based on (a) there has already been 'unprecedented' global warming in the 20th Century, and (b) it was caused by anthropogenic CO2. Climategate has given prominence to something that has long been known — generally, the better the quality of the actual measured temperature data, the smaller is any secular change in average temperature. The asserted 'unprecedented' increase in temperature is apparent only in data which has been 'adjusted', 'normalized', 'averaged' by the IPCC clique.Climategate has thus undermined the alarmist claim of 'unprecedented' warming. Temperatures are about the same as they were 70 years ago.And if there have been only minor average temperature changes in 70 years or more despite the burning of vast quantities of fossil fuels, then what happens to the hypothesis that anthropogenic CO2 drives global climate?Once we take out the alarmists data modifications, whatever trends we are left with are most simply explained as being well within the limits of known natural variations. Occam's Razor.Also worth remembering — ice accumulations are a function of more than temperature. Remember Al Gore's claim that global warming was melting the snows of Kilamanjaro? The observation of declining snow coverage was real — but the cause was found to be less snowfall, not more melting. Deforestation at the foot of the mountain had reduced the flow of moisture up the mountain to the snowfields.Is mankind having an impact on climate? Quite possibly. But the evidence shows that the mechanism certainly does not revolve around anthropogenic production of essential CO2. Using the airplane window test, it is much more likely that any human impact on climate revolves around agriculture — which has reshaped large areas of the planet, including the foothills of Kilamanjaro. Just possibly, the real threat to a sustainable future may be Biofuels!

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | December 12, 2009

  35. RR said: "Much of the expose of what these scientists were up to seems designed to show that the globe isn't actually warming – which I don't think is a really controversial point. The controversial point is whether it is being caused by man, and Climategate does not appear to impact upon that either way."Ok, I thought perhaps your "Watt's Up With That?" link suggested sympathy for the idea that the warming itself was faked. As to the controversy over the "A" in AGW, I understand that the scientists claim that all of the other possible factors in 20th century warming and cooling have been factored out to leave anthropogenic CO2 as the prime suspect. (Yes, even sunspots Maury). I'm no expert, but to me the most controversial aspect is what we should do about it, given the uncertainty in the predictions.That reminds me of something I went off and read a couple of threads ago when ClimateGate was first mentioned here. I was reading that the bleeding-edge climate models get down to 100 km resolution when modelling the earth's surface. I took that to mean that the surface is diced up into squares of 10,000 km2 (i.e. 100 x 100 km, not 10 x 10 km).Some years ago, I read that weather prediction was based on atmospheric models that at best dealt with parcels of air on the order of 1 km3 in size. But even if that could be reduced to 1 m3 it would not significantly improve accurate weather forecasting beyond the current range of about five days. The weather (it was claimed) is just too chaotic for long range forecasting no matter how precisely the initial conditions are known — the so-called butterfly effect.Now if, roughly speaking, climate is "long term weather", what hope do we have of predicting it on century scales using such coarse models? That's MY worry.

    Comment by PeteS | December 12, 2009

  36. You are reaching for straws there, RR!No, I am making an observation. There is general agreement that we are in a warming period. Maybe some dispute that, but it doesn't seem to be one of the key points. The key issue is around causation.When I read through the essay on Anthony Watts' blog, I thought "That's all very interesting, and it does look like some potentially unwarranted manipulation of the data too place." But what that would imply is that the temperature changes that have been reported are greater than actual. It doesn't hit on the issue of causation at all.Now it does highlight the complaint I have made many times: There are too many people with agendas in this climate change debate. So then you would be justified in pondering just what else the people with agendas have had influence upon.RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | December 12, 2009

  37. LONDON – E-mails stolen from climate scientists show they stonewalled skeptics and discussed hiding data — but the messages don't support claims that the science of global warming was faked, according to an exhaustive review by The Associated Press.http://tinyurl.com/ycwyzku

    Comment by Maury | December 12, 2009

  38. Kinuachdrach said: "Climategate has thus undermined the alarmist claim of 'unprecedented' warming. Temperatures are about the same as they were 70 years ago."Then why are the glaciers melting?"The observation of declining snow coverage was real — but the cause was found to be less snowfall, not more melting. Deforestation at the foot of the mountain had reduced the flow of moisture up the mountain to the snowfields."Most of the glaciers on the planet are retreating. Is that deforestation too?"Is mankind having an impact on climate? Quite possibly. But the evidence shows that the mechanism certainly does not revolve around anthropogenic production of essential CO2."What evidence?I'm trying to be receptive to climate change skeptics' arguments but when I see all in the one screed: a) temperature isn't changing, b) if it is, it's not anthropogenic change but natural variation, c) if it is anthropogenic, it's not CO2…. it all smacks of a lot of clutching at straws. Kinda like "I wasn't there when the deceased passed away, your honour … but if I was, I didn't kill him … and if I did he deserved it anyway".:-)

    Comment by PeteS | December 12, 2009

  39. "Hide the Decline?'"Eliminate the Medievel Warming Period?""Homogenize the data" by "Raising" the Non-UHI affected temperatures, instead of "Lowering" the UHI-Infected Data?Cherry-Pick the Tree Ring Data down to where they're using ONE TREE? Come on, Guys. This is as Fraudulent as it gets.

    Comment by rufus | December 12, 2009

  40. What's interesting, Pete, is that every time one of those Greenland glaciers melts we find an old Viking farm.Look, we're coming out of the little ice age. It was Colder then. Before that was the Medievel Warm Period. It was hotter than the present, then. Then, during the "dark ages" it was colder. Then, during the Roman Warming Period it was hotter than, either, the MWP, or the present.Climate changes. Always. Constantly. And, tyrants, and bureaucrats try to get power. Constantly. Forever. And, people invent Religions. Constantly. Forever.And, in the early fifties, it was HOT in the summer. And, in the Sixties the Winters were COLD. Trust me, you young'uns.

    Comment by rufus | December 12, 2009

  41. With all due respect Pete,they can't factor grand minima's into the equation. We've only had 18 in the last 7800 years. We could be in another now. That doesn't mean we'll enter another "lttle ice age". But,we could.It's interesting that the "modern maximum" which we recently endured,brought even warmer temperatures than the medieval maximum in the 1200's. Enough to melt all that ice? I don't know. But,research does show that the climate is 27% more sensitive to solar irradiation than greenhouse gases.This guy is a genius. Love his theories….and charts on sunspots.http://tinyurl.com/yaq4t6m

    Comment by Maury | December 12, 2009

  42. Even the warmists admit that, for their theory to work, they've got to get "Positive Feedback" from clouds. It's looking pretty unlikely.

    Comment by rufus | December 12, 2009

  43. PeteS asked: "Then why are the glaciers melting?"Pete — the smart answer would be: Summertime! But to be serious, how many glaciers have you personally observed over the last half century?We all have to rely on honest reporting by scientists and by the media (who are the intermediary for so much of the information that comes our way).Obviously, the media has become entirely untrustworthy & agenda-driven. It's not your grandfather's BBC. The bad part about Climategate is that it casts doubt on the objectivity of the scientific community too.Some of the glaciers in Alaska are retreating — I believe it, because I have seen it. Some of the Alaskan glaciers are advancing — one advanced and trapped a lake behind itself a few summers back near Yakutat, causing a real problem for the local community. Of course the reason that the alarmists gave was 'global warming' — whether the glaciers were retreating or advancing.Since you love my second-hand stories, Pete, here's one from a guy from India. He had seen troubling reports about the retreating glacier at Lago Argentino in the South American Andes. He's a concerned citizen, so he used his vacation to go there and see it for himself. Found out there are 5 major glaciers feeding into Lago Argentino. One is indeed retreating. Three are static. And one is advancing. Guess which one gets all the reporting?Glaciers are a balance between snow accumulation in the ice-field and melting at the glacier's end, and a whole lot of other physical factors in between.It's a complex world. Don't let some ill-informed activists in the BBC give you a false impression based on selective reporting. And do demand that your scientists be above reproach. Which brings us back to Climategate.

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | December 12, 2009

  44. "But,research does show that the climate is 27% more sensitive to solar irradiation than greenhouse gases."Got a reference for that Maury? (What does it even mean?).From what I read, the variation in insolation at the earth's surface from peak to trough of the sunspot cycle is about 0.1%. The resulting radiative forcing is less than half that predicted for a doubling of atmospheric CO2. Happy to exchange references.

    Comment by PeteS | December 12, 2009

  45. Kinuachdrach:Retreat of Glaciers since 1850.Ok, it's only a humble Wikipedia article, but it does cite almost 100 references, only 3 of which are your unloved BBC.

    Comment by PeteS | December 12, 2009

  46. Kinuachdrach -Of course I love your second-hand stories. Looks like your Indian friend was the one doing the selective reporting:"Perito Moreno Glacier is one of three glaciers in Patagonia known to have advanced, compared to several hundred others in retreat".

    Comment by PeteS | December 13, 2009

  47. Let's be real; They can't even tell you what causes "glaciatials/interglatials."They don't have the answer to PDOs, and AMOs. El Ninos, and La Ninas? Nope.And, now, they've virtually destroyed the "temperature record."Our "Experts" have tried to argue that the Medievel Warming Period, and the Little Ice Age didn't exist.But, they're SURE that we need to take our economy back to the "horse, and buggy." Even, in the sure knowledge that Billions would die.Horsehockey.

    Comment by rufus | December 13, 2009

  48. Glacials, and interglacials.Time for a nap.

    Comment by rufus | December 13, 2009

  49. On the other hand, Rufus, the fact of CO2-induced warming is a matter of quite straightforward and well understood physics. There's a difference between warming and climate change, of course. There might be catastrophic change. Then again, there might not. The conventional wisdom is that we should act according to the Precautionary Principle, and take preventive action. That assumes that preventive action is cheap, or cheaper than the alternative in the long run. I'm with you in being unconvinced on this point.

    Comment by PeteS | December 13, 2009

  50. Yep, it's a "greenhouse gas," Pete. But, it's effect is "logarithmic;" and that' important to consider. The "Next" hundred ppm will have a lot less effect than the previous 100 ppm did. (Of course, we still don't know what effect the last one hundred had.)Remember, the "Last" one hundred years had 2 Positive PDO Cycles, and only One "Negative" Cycle.The "Next" hundred years will have 2 Negative PDO Cycles, and only One "Positive" Cycle. Then, there's the whole deal of "Depleting Fossil Fuels."Bottom Line: We probably need to "Slow Down," a bit.

    Comment by rufus | December 13, 2009

  51. "Perito Moreno Glacier is one of three glaciers in Patagonia known to have advanced, compared to several hundred others in retreat".Pete — As Ronald Reagan once said: Trust, And Verify. Can we believe that statement about Patagonian glaciers? There once was a time that, if the statement had come from a peer-reviewed scientific paper, most of us would have said Yes. We can trust it without any need for further verification.Here's the long-term damage done by Climategate. The trust is gone. The base assumption now has to be that anything that claims to support the assertion of "Global Warming" has to be independently verified before it can be accepted.Sad — but that is the world the IPCC cheaters have created.

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | December 13, 2009

  52. “Then why are the glaciers melting?”That is the cool thing. We do not know. They have been melting for 20,000 years. That is about 19,800 before the industrial revolution stated.What bothers me about AGW is the number of people who are addicted to private jets want to tell me that I should eat less meat. We can produce all the electricity we need with nuclear power. Where are Waxman-Markely on nuclear power? It just seems like AGW is more about telling others how to live and less about finding solutions.

    Comment by Kit P | December 13, 2009

  53. RR wrote: "There is general agreement that we are in a warming period."OK, let me do a Robert Rapier here. Where is the scientific evidence to support that statement?Not media reports, because we all know the media are agenda-driven.Not model predictions, because we all know about the limitations of General Circulation Models.Not 'data' that has been manipulated by the IPCC clique, because we know that they have been playing games.So where is the support for the asserted "general agreement"?If you scratch around, it looks like there is indeed scientific support for the statement that it is warmer today than it was in the Younger Dryas, about 12,000 years ago. Probably not as warm as it was during the Medieval Warm Period. And perhaps about as warm as it was 70 years ago.The whole "general agreement" about current rapid warming has been based on the IPCC clique, which we now know to have been manipulating the data. Throw that out. Now what's left?

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | December 13, 2009

  54. Expecting Eschenbach to provide a fair analysis of climate data is about as reliable as getting good information on ethanol energy inputs from Rufus:http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2009/12/trust_scientistshttp://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2006/08/climate_fraudit.php

    Comment by Anonymous | December 13, 2009

  55. Sorry, better links:http://tinyurl.com/y9c9dwmhttp://tinyurl.com/yeeaa8p

    Comment by Anonymous | December 13, 2009

  56. rufus said: "Yep, it's a "greenhouse gas," Pete. But, it's effect is "logarithmic;" and that' important to consider. The "Next" hundred ppm will have a lot less effect than the previous 100 ppm did."Correct, rufus, and by the same argument the next doubling will have the same effect (in terms of radiative forcing) as the last doubling.Kinuachdrach said: "Here's the long-term damage done by Climategate. The trust is gone. The base assumption now has to be that anything that claims to support the assertion of "Global Warming" has to be independently verified before it can be accepted."Uh huh. And who would perform this "independent verification", I wonder? The crowd from "ClimateGate I" (when Newsweek reported on fossil fuel industry funding of the anti-AGW camp)?Kinuachdrach said: "The whole "general agreement" about current rapid warming has been based on the IPCC clique, which we now know to have been manipulating the data. Throw that out. Now what's left?"So you have evidence — hopefully independently verified — that the data has been manipulated? Where is it? I gave a few links to freely available data and models when this came up a while back. Here is a much more comprehensive list. Time to stop banging on about it and present your evidence, is it not?

    Comment by PeteS | December 13, 2009

  57. "Got a reference for that Maury? (What does it even mean?)."It means the sun's heat output isn't constant Pete. Those variations have more to do with global warming than greenhouse gasses. And CO2 is only one of those gasses. And people only produce 5% of the CO2. For all we know,a hummingbird fart could have more effect than a carbon trading scheme. http://tinyurl.com/yb7dfw3

    Comment by Maury | December 13, 2009

  58. OK, let me do a Robert Rapier here. Where is the scientific evidence to support that statement?I didn't know that was a point of controversy. I thought even you have said on here something to the effect of "Yes, the earth is warming up a bit. But we don't know the cause for certain."Has that not been your position? Or do you think maybe the earth isn't really warming up?RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | December 13, 2009

  59. Kinuachdrach said: "Can we believe that statement about Patagonian glaciers?"World Glacier Monitoring ServiceFluctuations of Glaciers 2000-2005 (Volume IX)From the preface:"This ninth volume of the "Fluctuations of Glaciers", the first report of this century and covering the years 2000 to 2005, continues the series of detailed reports on measurements of world-wide glacier fluctuations. It presents the most up-to-date scientific data on individual terrestrial glaciers in many countries of the world, including their length, area, volume and thickness. The report points to a strong acceleration of glacier melting in those years, with a doubling of the rate compared with the two preceding decades."

    Comment by PeteS | December 13, 2009

  60. [Maury]: "But,research does show that the climate is 27% more sensitive to solar irradiation than greenhouse gases."[Me]: "Got a reference for that Maury? (What does it even mean?)."[Maury]: "It means the sun's heat output isn't constant Pete. Those variations have more to do with global warming than greenhouse gasses. And CO2 is only one of those gasses. And people only produce 5% of the CO2. For all we know,a hummingbird fart could have more effect than a carbon trading scheme."Are you intentionally playing dumb Maury? I told YOU what the variation in the solar constant was normally estimated at. So clearly I wasn't asking what it means for the sun's output to be variable. I was asking you for a reference for your assertion that "the climate is 27% more sensitive to solar irradiation than greenhouse gases", and an explanation of what that means.In reply you linked to a twenty year old paper that doesn't even mention that claim, let alone remotely back it up. What is does do is advance a theory that climate change is related to the length of the solar cycle (not sunspot number) and admits that no physical connection between solar activity and length of solar cycle is known. I presume you know that that paper was the basis of the later work by Svensmark which claimed that the physical connection was the level of protection from galactic cosmic rays, which could create condensation nuclei for high-level clouds in times of low solar activity. The magnitude of this effect has been thoroughly discounted as being able to account for observed warming trends. I'm sure you can find the links yourself.

    Comment by PeteS | December 13, 2009

  61. Don't go postal on me Pete.Recent research (3) indicates that the combined effects of sunspot-induced changes in solar irradiance and increases in atmospheric greenhouse gases offer the best explanation yet for the observed rise in average global temperature over the last century. Using a global climate model based on energy conservation, Lane et al (3) constructed a profile of atmospheric climate "forcing" due to combined changes in solar irradiance and emissions of greenhouse gases between 1880 and 1993. They found that the temperature variations predicted by their model accounted for up to 92% of the temperature changes actually observed over the period — an excellent match for that period. Their results also suggest that the sensitivity of climate to the effects of solar irradiance is about 27% higher than its sensitivity to forcing by greenhouse gases. http://tinyurl.com/yw5k76

    Comment by Maury | December 13, 2009

  62. Sorry Maury :-)

    Comment by PeteS | December 13, 2009

  63. But Maury — that link doesn't appear to contradict AGW ideas.Your earlier sunspot cycle genius was decidedly iffy. His large effects caused by alignment of Uranus+Neptune along with Jupiter +/- Saturn don't ring true even to my layman's ears. I did a quick back-of-an-envelope calculation to determine that the combined gravitational force of Uranus and Neptune on the sun is less than half a percent that of Jupiter. I realise that this force is not the same as the angular momentum he is discussing, but it is related, and gives an idea of the relative influences.

    Comment by PeteS | December 13, 2009

  64. UK Daily Mail publishes a pretty good recap.Bottom Line: CRU – IPCC ; It's Dead, Jim.

    Comment by rufus | December 13, 2009

  65. Roger Pielke, Sr. On the Warm Bias in the CRU DataRoger Pielke, Sr. is, by NO means, a Skeptic, much less a "Denier." But, he is a Great, and Principled Scientist.

    Comment by rufus | December 13, 2009

  66. RR wrote: "Or do you think maybe the earth isn't really warming up?"Robert, live up to your own standards. You made the assertion that the planet is warming. Where's the supporting data?Appeals to Authority were always unscientific. Following Climategate, they look positively silly now that key 'Authority' figures have been suspended pending investigations into whether they have fudged the data.The whole basis for Alleged Anthropogenic Global Warming is that there has been 'unprecedented' warming coincident with the major increase in fossil fuel use worldwide since World War II. So where is the supporting data?I have an open mind. Where is the untainted data which supports 'unprecedented' warming?

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | December 13, 2009

  67. Willis Eschenbach Replies to the Economist.

    Comment by rufus | December 13, 2009

  68. "Your earlier sunspot cycle genius was decidedly iffy."Anyone with a website that pretty has to be a genius Pete. If sunspot activity doesn't pick up in the next 6 months,we've got another Dalton Minimum on our hands. At least 20 years of temps an average of 2 degrees celsius cooler. If activity stays subdued for the next 3 years,we've got a Maunder Minimum. Deep freezes and famines for a generation or two. I'm pulling for a Dalton.

    Comment by Maury | December 13, 2009

  69. Grand Canyon Temperatures – Raw, and AdjustedThe Beat Goes On.

    Comment by rufus | December 13, 2009

  70. Robert, live up to your own standards. You made the assertion that the planet is warming. Where's the supporting data?No, you aren't hearing what I am saying. I am not debating whether the planet is warming. I am arguing that this is generally accepted, and I believe it has been generally accepted by you as well. So I wasn't throwing that out as a point of debate; I made the comment because I don't think anyone here – you included – had previously challenged the premise that we are in a warming phase. Whether "generally accepted" is in error is a different subject – and one in which there will be a lot of data to sift through.This is why I have stayed out of this debate. You can't just skim the surface here; you have to get in there and really get your hands dirty. I have spent a lot of time trying to read through all of the back and forth on the issue, but I don't have enough time for that if I want to stay on top of energy issues as well.My "To Do" list looks like this:1. Finish up questions/comments and submit to Bob Cohen.2. Finish book chapter on Global Energy Trends for Professor Andy Schmitz.3. Start book chapter on jatropha and algae as fuel feedstocks.4. Summarize the top energy stories of 2009.There is no room for "Study up on climate science so I can debate the topic intelligently." I have to leave that one to others to figure out. My plate is full.RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | December 13, 2009

  71. "Or do you think maybe the earth isn't really warming up?"I'm not an expert on meteorology, but I think the widespread observations of melting ice in the arctic, Greenland, and numerous glaciers support the claim that the earth's climate is heating up. These observations don't support or deny AGW, or whether the trend is long term or not. But I think it's hard to argue, weather station data uncertainties aside, that northern hemisphere temperatures have not been on the rise in recent times.Here follows some googling… The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) is part of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder. [It's sponsored by NASA, the NSF, and NOAA.]The NSIDC Near-Real-Time DMSP SSM/I Daily Polar Gridded Sea Ice Concentrations and the Sea Ice Concentrations from Nimbus-7 SSMR and DMSP SSM/I Passive Microwave Data data sets are used to generate the monthly records of sea ice extent and sea ice concentration for the Arctic and Antarctica from satellite passive microwave data.[The NSIDC computes a Sea Ice Index based on the satellite data. The Sea Ice Index indicates a steady linear decline in arctic sea since the index began in 1978.] See http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/ This for example from http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=6797Though there was more ice in the Beaufort Sea at the end of July 2006 than there had been in previous years, the Arctic as a whole continued to melt at an ever-quickening pace. By June 2006, sea ice in the Arctic covered 1.2 million fewer square kilometers than the long-term average measured between 1979 and 2000….. This put sea ice concentrations (the percentage of ice that covers a predefined area) at a record low for June, breaking the record set in June 2005, during which sea ice extent was down 0.8 million square kilometers from the average.When I first got out of college, I spent 5 years working Beaufort Sea seismic data. The only year we got good data was 1977, when the ice retreated much further north than usual. In most years there was insufficient free water to conduct any significant seismic surveys. My understanding is that 1977-like conditions are getting more and more common. Although I can't vouch for it personally, recent reports suggest that this is indeed the case.http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard/seaice.htmlHere, the authors report that "The extent of the 2009 summer sea ice cover was the third lowest value of the satellite record (beginning in 1979) and >25% below the 1979 – 2000 average."

    Comment by armchair261 | December 13, 2009

  72. Here is hoping for a new blog from Robert soon – if not İ am afraid someone here will start to question whether the earth is really round (more or less) or flat.

    Comment by Russ | December 13, 2009

  73. Aww, we knows the earth is round. We're just earnin our paychecks from the "Big Oil Companies."Whut a life. I gets rich bloggin for the Big Oil Companies in the Mornin, an' de "Big Etanol" in de afternoon. Whut a Country.

    Comment by rufus | December 13, 2009

  74. RR wrote: "I have spent a lot of time trying to read through all of the back and forth on the issue, but I don't have enough time for that if I want to stay on top of energy issues as well."Robert, it really does not take a lot of time to recognize circular logic. You downplayed the importance of Climategate's evidence of data manipulation, saying that it was 'generally accepted' that we are in a warming period. But that general acceptance is based on the manipulated data!Take a quick look at the unadjusted Grand Canyon data which Rufus linked to, just as an example.Current temperatures are about where they were over 1930-1950. The rate of warming from mid 1980s to 2000 is about the same as it was from 1915-1930. And of course there was a period of decline in the 1960s & 70s.Using real unadjusted data, recent temperatures and temperature trends look to be normal fluctuations. Nothing 'unprecedented'. That's the only point I am trying to make.

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | December 13, 2009

  75. Maury -"Anyone with a website that pretty has to be a genius Pete."True. I've got a great website with beautiful pictures of bridges for sale. ;-)"If sunspot activity doesn't pick up in the next 6 months,we've got another Dalton Minimum on our hands. At least 20 years of temps an average of 2 degrees celsius cooler. If activity stays subdued for the next 3 years,we've got a Maunder Minimum. Deep freezes and famines for a generation or two. I'm pulling for a Dalton."Ah, now hang on a second. Planetary motions are reliably predictable over timescales of millions of years. How come a theory based on planetary gravitational resonances can't tell you what sort of minimum you are expecting? Is it something to do with those cases where your genius admits the resonances and the claimed effects don't match up, due to the effects taking "time to restart"? (LOL!)You do realise this sounds more like numerology than science? And that's even before we observe that there is NO KNOWN PHYSICAL CONNECTION between these alleged changes in solar activity and climate on earth (other than the measured 1% variability in the solar constant which is already taken into account).That said, the climate DOES seem to vary significantly on all sorts of timescales. Evidence from Atlantic sediment grain size (which is taken as a measurement of the southerly limit of iceberg drift) suggests 1-2 degree cooling periods at 1,500 year intervals during the Holocene. I'm not aware that we have an explanation for that. Your astrology pal probably has as much idea as the next man. It is because human-induced warming is superimposed on natural variability that I'd be cautious about spending vast amounts of money based on warming predictions.On the other hand again, worst-case warming predictions are of a far, far greater magnitude than the 1.0 and 0.3 degree variations attributed to the Little Ice Age and Medieval Warming Period respectively. And yet again (how many hands have I used up now?) what is the justification for relying on worst-case predictions?

    Comment by PeteS | December 13, 2009

  76. "The only year we got good data was 1977, when the ice retreated much further north than usual."That's interesting, Armchair. Current conditions are not 'unprecedented'. One of the difficult questions out there is whether Arctic ice coverage is a good proxy for temperature, or for 'global climate'. Clearly, there may be other factors involved, such as ocean currents. And we do know there are oscillations in those.All of this points to one of the basic scientific steps that global warming alarmism has sidestepped — careful definition of terms. What do they mean by 'global climate'? It is not simple. Yet if people are going to base policies that will certainly lead to the deaths of human beings over concerns about 'climate change', they at least ought to be able to explain to the rest of us what they mean.

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | December 13, 2009

  77. "You do realise this sounds more like numerology than science?"We don't know the causes behind sunspots Pete. But,we do know when grand minima's occur,the weather turns cold. We get warmer during grand maxima's. We don't know the reasons yet,but the cause and effect is real. The earth wasn't flat before Newton came along. The earth has been through periods when there were no glaciers. There were also periods when glaciers were ten miles thick over the midwest. We're exiting a grand minima that lasted 40 years,and entering a grand minima that will last 20-75 years. Trust me,there will be plenty of ice to go around.

    Comment by Maury | December 13, 2009

  78. My bad. We just exited a grand maxima….not minima,where sunpot activity was higher than any time in the last 5000 years. It could be coincidence that global warming happened simultaneously. Except,it always warms during maximas. And cools during minimas. The graphs on page 4 of this link show just how unusual the modern grand maximum was. http://tinyurl.com/yeoj2sq

    Comment by Maury | December 13, 2009

  79. I wonder what would turn up if someone were to hack all the oil lobbyest email. I imagine that would be very intresting reading. Of course I imagine it would all be above board. Our country is pushing for alternatives but find it hard to get out of it's own way.This local company was ready to go but spent a year without a paycheck.http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/news/478213-196/biodiesel-refinery-hopes-to-finally-begin-soon.html

    Comment by takchess | December 13, 2009

  80. Armchair wrote: "These observations don't support or deny AGW …"That got me thinking — logically, even the lack of warming (or actual cooling) could not deny the possibility of Anthropogenic Global Warming.After all, the geological record suggests the current interglacial period should be coming to an end about now. Maybe it is only mankind's recent furious burning of fossil fuels that has delayed the inevitable? Perhaps the Hopenhagen crowd should be focusing on how to increase anthropogenic CO2 to save humanity?So how do we proceed in the face of such uncertainty? Clearly, the basic step has to be gathering the best, most complete sets of relevant data that human ingenuity can provide. Start witht he data, as RR keeps emphasizing.This is why the Climategate scandal is so bad — once the basic data is compromised, we really are up the creek without a paddle.RR has impressed a lot of us through his blog. I know that he has deeply impressed (and influenced) me. If some enthusiastic young lad working for Merica fudged some data to help close a deal with a client, how would the RR we see on this blog react? I am certain that, as soon as RR found out about it, he would make an immediate full disclosure to his client. And the enthusiastic young lad would learn up close & personal just what is involved in a 'Come To Jesus' meeting.Data should be sacrosanct. That's what the IPCC crowd have destroyed in Climategate.

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | December 13, 2009

  81. Data should be SacrosanctAbsolute, Total, Ultimate "Bottom Line."

    Comment by rufus | December 13, 2009

  82. Of course the climate is warming. Where I sit right now was under 5,000 ft of ice only 12,000 years ago.There is good evidence (with minor ups and downs) that we are still in a recovery cycle from that Ice Age.As my Grandpappy liked to say, "It always gets warmer after an Ice Age — until the next Ice Age."Do humans have an effect on atmospheric warming? I'm pretty sure we do, but all it can do is delay the next Ice Age, not stop it.And when the next great ice sheet bears down on the United States from Canada in 10,000 years or so, whatever humans are left will probably wish we had done more to stop it in the 21st, 22nd, 23rd, and 24th centuries.My own view is that the global warming alarmists are short-sighted and are incapable of thinking in geological and astronomical time.

    Comment by Wendell Mercantile | December 13, 2009

  83. If history is any guide, it would seem that we might have less than a thousand years before the ice cubes start rolling.Next week certainly isn't out of the question.

    Comment by rufus | December 13, 2009

  84. Robert, it really does not take a lot of time to recognize circular logic. You downplayed the importance of Climategate's evidence of data manipulation, saying that it was 'generally accepted' that we are in a warming period. But that general acceptance is based on the manipulated data!No, no, no. I didn’t downplay the importance of the data manipulation. I think there are definite signs there of confirmation bias and agendas. To me that is very serious.What I said was (paraphrasing) “There is a general consensus that the earth is warming, yet if we presume that all of the data manipulation was really inappropriate, then it may imply that the earth is not warming.” My point is that this seems to fly in the face of a lot of observations that the earth is warming. No circular logic here; the evidence of the earth warming “seems to go” well beyond these graphs.Now, it may very well be that the evidence that supports the earth warming is given much more press coverage than things like advancing glaciers. I don’t know, but my general impression is that the evidences that the earth is warming (thinning ice caps, retreating glaciers) are more abundant than those indicating that the earth is cooling. What I am not saying – but what you think I am saying – is “Since we already know the earth is warming, this is no big deal.”In my opinion what needs to happen (and maybe it already has) is that there is a close examination of 1). Other data sets that indicate that we are in a warming trend; 2). Evidence in general that the earth is warming. My opinion is that what we will find is that the earth has in fact warmed up a few degrees – and I reiterate that I am pretty sure that this is an opinion you have expressed – but then the question is “Why?” But I don’t mean to downplay the question, in light of this scandal “How do we know the earth is really warming?” The evidence should be given more scrutiny, and the skeptics should be allowed to ask questions without being labeled “Deniers” and such. I have always had a problem with the hostility in this debate.RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | December 13, 2009

  85. I thought this was a reasoned look at the subject http://www.foresight.org/nanodot/?p=3553

    Comment by takchess | December 13, 2009

  86. "I wonder what would turn up if someone were to hack all the oil lobbyest email. I imagine that would be very intresting reading. Of course I imagine it would all be above board."If you could hack the email of any company or industry, even yours, you'd probably find a lot of the same stuff. You suggest whiffs of conspiracy theorism here. I think we're mostly just talking about human nature here. People tooting their own horns and being less than charitable to those who play a different instrument.

    Comment by armchair261 | December 13, 2009

  87. I thought this was a reasoned look at the subjecthttp://www.foresight.org/nanodot/?p=3553Agree. That's the kind of reasoned, dispassionate view I like to see of any topic.RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | December 13, 2009

  88. "That's interesting, Armchair. Current conditions are not 'unprecedented'. "No, but the frequency of such events is increasing in the Beaufort. As you know, this frequency must be part of the data, not just whether sea ice cover here or temperature behavior there have been seen before.I wouldn't classify myself as a climate skeptic or believer (and certainly not an expert). I'm a climate agnostic. Two things that trouble me though about the current consensus. One is the sheer number of input variables and the error bars on each, in addition to the coarseness of the cells used to model climate. If we apply proper error bars on each variable in each coarse cell, what is the error bar of the predicted result? How many more variables are out there that are still unknown, and how many are only poorly understood now? What if we can better model the impact of clouds, for example, and run models with one meter cells, how would predictions change?The second is, is it better to invest in adaptation than to spend trillions trying to defeat something we might not be able to change, or we don't even know is going to happen? Of course, the downside risks are huge, but how much should we pay for our insurance policy? But in the real world we'll never have enough data, and there will always be uncertainty. So when do we pull the trigger? Is now the right time? I guess I have to defer to the wisdom of others on that. Hope they get it right.I saw a lecture last year where the speaker presented two climate forecasts for the US Great Plains area. Both models predicted similar global temperature increases. But while one showed a warmer but not radically different Colorado, the other showed desert conditions. What steps would you take now if you were governor of Colorado?

    Comment by armchair261 | December 13, 2009

  89. "What I am not saying – but what you think I am saying – is “Since we already know the earth is warming, this is no big deal.”"Great, RR. That was exactly my concern — you seemed to be blowing off the evidence of data manipulation because the outcome was pre-determined. Glad to hear that was my mis-understanding.Your suggested way forward is solid. But let's take a moment to consider what we have learned from Climategate.First, the data on which the IPCC has built its case is flawed.Second, the people building that data are flawed.Both of those issues have to be dealt with in the aftermath of Climategate. The foundation has to be a total commitment to Good Science. No more hand-waving on the data and ad hominem attacks on people with different perspectives. If that means dissolving the IPCC and starting again with a fresh crew, so be it.In place of the IPCC, the people of the world need to see real science. All measured data made freely available to everyone. All adjustments to measured data made openly, with magnitudes & justifications clearly laid out. No more secret computer codes.And some humility would not go amiss, along with a few apologies from those involved.

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | December 13, 2009

  90. Armchair wrote: "I'm a climate agnostic."That's about where I would put myself. The climate of the Earth has certainly fluctuated tremendously over geological time, without any anthropogenic influence. Data is sparse, but what it seems to show is that current climate is within the range of natural variation. Still, I try to keep an open mind — if there is evidence suggesting something else, I will gladly look at it without pre-judgement.The interesting thing is that the convinced global warmers have been rather closed-minded — You are either with us or against us! They don't allow for agnostics. Not good science, and (in the long run) not good politics either.

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | December 13, 2009

  91. Kinuachdrach said: "But let's take a moment to consider what we have learned from Climategate.First, the data on which the IPCC has built its case is flawed."Apologies for diving in on the conversation, but I'm still hoping for evidence for this repeated assertion.We've seen links to data from Darwin and the Grand Canyon that the IPCC is alleged to have "massaged". And we've seen justifications for why it's been changed the way it has. Nobody has presented any evidence whatsoever that the global data has been fraudulently altered on a grand scale to create a particular outcome.I'm simply not seeing how a dispassionate assessment of the evidence so far could lead to such an adamant conclusion that "the data is flawed", which leaves the uncomfortable feeling that your assessment is far from dispassionate.

    Comment by PeteS | December 13, 2009

  92. Pete, we saw where the tree ring data wasn't giving them the results they wanted, and how they truncated the "proxy data" at 1960, and inserted the thermometer data to "Hide the Decline." We see how ALL the adjustments go the same way. Lower in the first half of the Century, and higher in the latter half. EVERY station we look at it's the same. I posted a whole bunch of them earlier in the thread.It looks to me like it really is pretty obvious what they've done. And, maybe the most damning thing is they haven't come out and said, "No, we didn't do that; here's the Code. See?"The skeptics have been trying to get data out of GISS for three years through the FOIA; but NASA has stonewalled it. Phil Jones said he would destroy the data, first; and, sure enough, now he says the data is missing.Passionate, dispassionate, whatever; that deal's starting to look pretty bleak.

    Comment by rufus | December 13, 2009

  93. Phil Jones from CRU

    Comment by rufus | December 13, 2009

  94. Manipulating data submitted to US regulatory agencies such as the NRC or EPA is a federal felony. I know of very few willful acts and most times it is just being sloppy.I know of no one who has been fired for making a mistake but you will get fired and may go jail when you lie about it. Furthermore, if you take money from the US government to do research; it might be a good idea not to document you knew was a scam in emails.

    Comment by Kit P | December 13, 2009

  95. I was flipping through charts at the NOAA(National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and was getting a little freaked by temp readings from different months during 2009. 10th warmest on record. 12th coolest on record etc. Until I saw the disclaimer that only 31 years are on record,LOL. Then I click on Selected National Highlights for 2009 and read the first sentence…."Based on data from January through November and considering the long-term mean for December, the average annual 2009 temperature for the contiguous U.S. is projected to be 0-1 degrees F above the 20th Century average."Oh Lordie. I do believe it's panic time.http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/

    Comment by Maury | December 13, 2009

  96. "Nobody has presented any evidence whatsoever that the global data has been fraudulently altered on a grand scale to create a particular outcome."Sorry, Pete, for not responding. It looked like you were making a rhetorical statement rather than looking for specific information.If you have not already checked out the WattsUpWithThat blog site, do so. (http://wattsupwiththat.com/) There are lots of specifics there from the Climategate releases, including analyses of one of the released data processing codes which quite simply subtracts values in early years and adds them in recent years, giving a nice 'hockey stick' appearance to any data set.Another link to multiple examples of questionable data modification is the ClimateAudit web site. There are more such sites out there than any of us has time to review.The analyses that RR linked to on Darwin and that Rufus linked to on the Grand Canyon are just two of many that have been posted on the internet. The pattern is that 'warming' is much more evident in the adjusted data than in the raw data, which often shows no significant warming.(Buried even deeper is the issue that the 'raw' data is itself averaged over some time period. Given the wide diurnal variation in temperature in many places, how was that averaging performed?) As I mentioned earlier, Michael Crichton published related plots for specific locations in his "novel" Climate of Fear, about 5 years ago. The issue of adjustments making recent warming seem larger has been around for years.'Grand scale' and 'fraudulently altered' may be open to discussion, but the deviation from acceptable scientific practices is not.

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | December 13, 2009

  97. A couple of tidbits from the Global Highlights for 2009 at NOAA.In the Arctic,the annual minimum extent in September 2009 was the third smallest of the 31-year record.The Southern Hemisphere had the third largest sea ice extent on record for Sept.Sounds like a push….

    Comment by Maury | December 13, 2009

  98. I give up. I give up on expecting reasoned evaluation here. It's enough to turn an agnostic into an AGW advocate out of frustration!Kinu – You say adjustments to measured data have to be set out and justified. That's available in overview and in detail in the IPCC's guidelines on use of climate data, and on the NOAA's GHCN data site. (I'd have posted the links if I'd thought you'd follow them). How do you determine "deviation from acceptable scientific practices"?Rufus – tree ring data was discounted after 1960 because the people who assembled it said it wasn't reliable after that date. Homogenisation of station data is explained in the same places I just mentioned to Kinu. Criticise the method after you know what it is, rather than because you don't like what you see.Maury – I'm struggling to see how you make the same prediction based on two papers, one of which claims to show that solar maxima and minima are driven by gravitational resonances and the other that they are entirely random. By the way, maxima and minima are the plurals of maximum and minimum respectively — there are no maximas and minimas. Refuting global warming based on the average temperature for one year is unlikely to be very successful (outside these comments).

    Comment by PeteS | December 13, 2009

  99. RR – how about another post to bring us back to some merely highly controversial topic.:-)

    Comment by PeteS | December 13, 2009

  100. I took a course called Environmental Geology. The point of the course being that human activities should take into account geological process when planning major projects or deciding where to live. Just because nothing bad has happened in resent memory does not mean a disaster is not waiting to happen. The geology of certain parts of the PNW have some very interesting left overs from the lat ice age. Except for one crack pot geologist, the consensus of geologists got it all wrong. Lake Missoula formed by an ice dam is now the accepted explanation which obvious when view from an air plane. So while some are worried about slow change causing a disaster, real disasters occur too fast to say more than aw shucks as that solid hill side was really a loose mounds of the Palouse becomig a landslide.

    Comment by Kit P | December 14, 2009

  101. "one of which claims to show that solar maxima and minima are driven by gravitational resonances and the other that they are entirely random."The GRAND minima and maxima are random Pete. Sunspot activity peaks every 11 years or so. Pretty much like clockwork. The modern grand maxima was composed of 4 consecutive cycles of large numbers of sunspots. Those only come along every couple of thousand years. It's over now,and we're entering a grand minimum. It'll be snowing in Baghdad before you know it.

    Comment by Maury | December 14, 2009

  102. Well, Pete, if it wasn't reliable after 1960, why in the world would I think it was reliable Before 1960?Look, atmospheric CO2 in only increasing about 1.6 ppm/yr. at present. And, Most of that isn't anthropogenic. We've got time.Before we tank the world's economy, and do, possibly, horrendous damage why don't we take a year, or two, and figure this thing out.We could put a few guys like Spencer, Lindzen, Christie, and Singer in with a few from the "warming" side like . . . . well, you pick your team, and give them a couple of years, and all the support they need, and see what they come up with.They could put their work up on the internet every week, and let all the world's scientists that are interested follow along.We could have sub-teams of hydrologists, agronomists, energy experts, and then, to try to put a price tag on the whole thing, economists.Wouldn't that be preferable to running around with our hair on fire, shooting wildly into the air, passing Trillion Dollar pieces of legislation, and then wondering what it all meant?

    Comment by rufus | December 14, 2009

  103. Kinu-AllCNG is coming, whether we like it or not–and I think these figs could be lowForecast: Global Natural Gas Vehicle Fleet to Reach 17 Million by 201511 December 2009A new report from Pike Research forecasts that the global natural gas vehicle (NGV) sector is poised for a new period of growth. The cleantech market intelligence firm forecasts that the number of NGVs on the road worldwide will grow to 17 million vehicles by 2015, up from 9.7 million in 2008. Globally, Pike Research forecasts that the NGV market will grow at a CAGR of 5.5% to reach just more than 3 million vehicles (including conversions) by 2015.Light-duty NGVs are not readily available in North America and parts of Asia, and are, in many cases, completely unavailable to private owners, the report notes. Conversely, in Pakistan, Argentina, Brazil, Iran, and India—the top five markets for NGVs—there are a variety of light-duty NGVs available. demand drivers for NGV adoption:

    Comment by Benny "Tell It LIke It Is Man" Cole | December 14, 2009

  104. "You say adjustments to measured data have to be set out and justified. That's available in overview and in detail in the IPCC's guidelines on use of climate data"Pete – sorry, it seems that we are talking different languages here.The IPCC guidelines don't explain the detailed adjustments which have beeen made to each individual site, possibly month by month. Generic statements of fine intent don't cut it — the public needs to see the specifics. The individuals making the adjustments need to know that each one is potentially subject to review by anyone.Another second hand story — this one from a Jesuit who led an ethics seminar for a professional association I am involved with. He also consulted for industry & government, and took us through what he thought was the best corporate ethics guidelines he had ever seen. And they really were great! When we were done, the Jesuit told us the name of the company which had drawn them up — Enron.What was that you were saying about the IPCC?

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | December 14, 2009

  105. "So while some are worried about slow change causing a disaster, real disasters occur too fast to say more than aw shucks…"Stunning logic!"Well, Pete, if it wasn't reliable after 1960, why in the world would I think it was reliable Before 1960?"Why not read those who assembled the data rather than making a priori assumptions?"Look, atmospheric CO2 in only increasing about 1.6 ppm/yr. at present. And, Most of that isn't anthropogenic. We've got time."That might be a sensible statement if the earth had no oceans. Google (and read) "Canadell et al 2007" for the latest analysis if you care. (I very much doubt you do).

    Comment by PeteS | December 14, 2009

  106. Kinu -"The IPCC guidelines don't explain the detailed adjustments which have beeen made to each individual site, possibly month by month."Quayle et al. (1999)

    Comment by PeteS | December 14, 2009

  107. A chance to see some "space climate" in the next couple of hours if you're somewhere dark … the Geminids are putting on a nice show. Maximum around midnight EST, 9PM PST, meteors from your east, and a nice view of Mars later. For something worth getting excited over :-)

    Comment by PeteS | December 14, 2009

  108. A chance to see some "space climate" in the next couple of hours if you're somewhere dark … the Geminids are putting on a nice show. Maximum around midnight EST, 9PM PST, meteors from your east, and a nice view of Mars later. For something worth getting excited over :-)

    Comment by PeteS | December 14, 2009

  109. "Look, atmospheric CO2 in only increasing about 1.6 ppm/yr. at present. And, Most of that isn't anthropogenic. We've got time."But in the last 200 years or so has increased by about 30% above the maxima observed over the past 400K years. Whatever one's views on AGW, that's something we need to better understand.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Co2-temperature-plot.svgIs there convincing data that CO2 causes higher temperatures, as opposed to vice versa? Plotting CO2 and temperature going back 800K years shows some interesting relationships. About 500K years ago, there appears to have been a 100K year interval where CO2 and temperature were relatively poorly correlated. Also, well defined CO2 peaks 350K and 250K years ago post-dated temperature peaks, suggesting that high CO2 is not a cause but an effect of high temperature. However, this could be measurement error, or alternatively, that the relationship is more complex than simply high CO2 = high temperature.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Co2-temperature-plot.svg

    Comment by armchair261 | December 14, 2009

  110. So while some are worried about slow change causing a disaster, real disasters occur too fast to say more than aw shucks…That's true Kit. But no one can attach a political agenda to, or profit from those fast, unexpected changes as they are trying to do with atmospheric warming.The things that are most likely to have devastating effects on how humans live on earth are:1. The next large meteorite impactor. That could happen next weekend, 500 years from now, or 100,000 years from now. No one knows for sure. We are tracking some potential objects, but unknown objects appear fairly regularly. A meteor like the one that made the Barringer Crater in Arizona would probably kill at least a third of the people in the United States were it to land in someplace such as Ohio or Pennsylvania.2. The next big super volcano. Absolutely no way to predict or control, and a big one like the one that created Yellowstone Park could destroy half the U.S. and change the worldwide climate for hundreds of years.Either of those will have a much larger effect on future life than atmospheric warming. Warming happens fairly slowly and people can adapt — as they have in the past. If you travel through Utah or Wyoming, it is obvious that area was once covered by a vast inland sea. Life was able to survive that.

    Comment by Wendell Mercantile | December 14, 2009

  111. Here, rather than read some 10 year old treacle, look at some Data. Mauna Loa DataIf you will notice, from Feb 98 to Feb 99 (Hot El Nino Year) CO2 Concentration in the atmosphere Increased by 3.01 ppm.From Feb 99 to Feb 2000 (La Nina Year) CO2 in the atmosphere Increased by only 0.49 ppm.Temperature of the Oceans have Everything to do with how much CO2 is retained in the atmosphere (or, outgassed into it.)If you look further you will see periods in the late fifties, and sixties when CO2 actually Decreased in the atmosphere.

    Comment by rufus | December 14, 2009

  112. Hey, call the scientists, Rufus. I'm sure they missed that!:-)

    Comment by PeteS | December 14, 2009

  113. @ PeteS – Good points all but kind of like peeing in the wind with several of the posters here.There is no such thing as an open mind for the guys you have been going back and forth with. They already know all and on most subjects as well.

    Comment by Russ | December 14, 2009

  114. “Absolutely no way to predict or control, and a big one like the one that created Yellowstone Park”Those lava flows occur about every 600,000 years and are a major geological feature of the PNW. It will destroy a major wheat producing region of the world. Of course there is a 90% chance that this wheat producing region will be under thousands of feet of ice. “Stunning logic!”Yes it is, thank you.If every thing is a disaster or a crisis no matter how insignificant then words like disaster or a crisis have no meaning.It is US energy policy to make AGW a priority (pg 8-15 NATIONAL ENERGY, May 2001).The silliness of debating AGW and international treaties is that we do not need to because we are already moving forward. We are building nuke plants, wind turbines, and biomass facilitates as fast as our industrial capacity will allow. It is a little sad that we have let our industrial capacity go to seed slowing construction but we are rebuilding. Currently we have rabid anti nukes from CaliTAXafornia and Taxassachusetts passing AGW bills that will only have the effect of making electricity as expensive in the rest of country as in California and New England. AGW is about manipulation. However, most Americans do not take kindly to manipulation. Maybe some in California and New England want to be led around by the nose by France but it does not play well in the rest of the country.

    Comment by Kit P | December 14, 2009

  115. "However, this could be measurement error, or alternatively, that the relationship is more complex than simply high CO2 = high temperature."Well, Armchair, we know that the relationship (if any) is not simple. See, for example, declining temperatures (even after IPCC fudging) in the 1960s & 70s despite explosive increases in the global use of fossil fuels.Correlation is not causation. But lack of correlation pretty well says time to go back to the drawing board.While at the drawing board, it is worth checking out the issue of 'Missing Carbon' — the Gigatonnes from burning fossil fuel that are not in the atmosphere. There is so much that current science does not understand.

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | December 14, 2009

  116. "The evidence should be given more scrutiny, and the skeptics should be allowed to ask questions without being labeled “Deniers” and such. I have always had a problem with the hostility in this debate."Like the death threats sent to climate scientists, you mean?Sounds like your sympathies are with the deniers, Robert. Perhaps explains why you continue to let them repeat the most outrageous lies and falsehoods without challenge.

    Comment by bc | December 14, 2009

  117. "However, most Americans do not take kindly to manipulation."Unless it's by Fox news of course.

    Comment by bc | December 14, 2009

  118. Sounds like your sympathies are with the deniers, Robert. Perhaps explains why you continue to let them repeat the most outrageous lies and falsehoods without challenge.This is exactly the reason I have watched – and have not participated – in this debate. People jump to quick conclusions and start hurling accusations. Emotions run high. But by all means, if you are interested in participating in the debate, challenge those "outrageous lies and falsehoods." Just as soon as I try, I end up spending two hours reading through competing links.I am defending against both sides here, so it is really hard to see how my sympathies lie with one side or another. Maybe you should spend a bit more time reading through my other comments.What I want to see is objective science, and not agendas. What I see is agendas playing out – on both sides. RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | December 14, 2009

  119. Sounds like your sympathies are with the deniers, Robert.Even in that bit you quoted, in the paragraphs above I am stating that it is still my impression that there are multiple lines of evidence that the earth is warming. By pulling out the bits you did, you tip your hand pretty strongly.RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | December 14, 2009

  120. "See, for example, declining temperatures (even after IPCC fudging) in the 1960s & 70s despite explosive increases in the global use of fossil fuels."Well…. if there is a poor, or no, correlation over two decades, we might conclude that there is no relationship and that the science linking CO2 to temperature is bad.But suppose we sample over 400,000 years and find a correlation coefficient of, say, 0.732? If we accept that the relationship is complex, then we should expect some short term volatility in the relationship. We all know that gasoline prices are primarily driven by oil, but 1/3 of the time, the two move in opposite directions, even though we know there IS causality. Sometimes secondary factors in a complex relationship can sum to defeat the primary cause. So short term deviations in the relationship don't bother me too much.But that long term lack of relationship 500K BP lasting for 100,000 years is troubling. So are the two temperature peaks preceding the CO2 peaks. Huge technical uncertainties but also huge downside risk. In light of that, I think it's sound policy to attempt to reduce CO2 emissions. But I have no idea how much should be spent on that, what technologies should be used, and what chance of success we might have, if any.

    Comment by armchair261 | December 15, 2009

  121. "Huge technical uncertainties but also huge downside risk. In light of that, I think it's sound policy to attempt to reduce CO2 emissions."Armcahir, I can't see how logically you can go from saying (to paraphrase) 'We don't know what is going on' to 'We ought to pursue a specific course of action that might make things worse than better'. That sounds like succumbing to peer pressure.Face it. The science is not settled — it is not even understood. And, following Climategate, it is clear that some of the data on which current science has been built was tainted.The only logical thing to do here is to follow the example of the Obama Administration and push the Reset button. Let's focus on getting the science right first, and make decisions on what (if anything) to do about it once we have a solid basis for understanding.

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | December 15, 2009

  122. Really, all those delegates in Copenhagen are addressing the wrong issue. They should be more concerned with how to stop the onslaught of the next ice sheet.Since the last one hasn't completely receded yet, and the next may not happen for 20,000 years or so, it may be secondary in their minds, but the next Ice Age's potential adverse effects are of much more concern than a warming of the atmosphere.When a 5,000 ft thick ice sheet is bearing down on us from what used to be Canada, the only choice our descendants will have is to pack up and head towards the equator.

    Comment by Wendell Mercantile | December 15, 2009

  123. "If you are a climate skeptic, being at this conference would prompt you to ask yourself, “if the science behind climate change is not compelling, then how is it that essentially every major country in the world—and many you’ve never heard of (think Tuvalu or Comoros), is convinced that climate change is a real and urgent challenge?"I love easy questions. This is a politican's wet dream : if they can coordinate taxes internationnally, then we have nowhere to run to any more, and then they can really do what they want. Tax competition between countries is one of the last things that help preserve what last shreds of liberty we still have, and the great Copenhagen Barnum thing could undermine that. So the question is : why wouldn't politicians from every country take part?On a different note : Robert, thank you so much for posting the link to Smoking Gun At Darwin Zero. Read it to understand why doubts remain on the question whether the planet has been warming at all or not? (Other clues : the warming come from urban areas, not rural areas; whole continents have next to no record; Oceans have next to no records; hmmm).

    Comment by Nick de Cusa | December 15, 2009

  124. "Huge technical uncertainties but also huge downside risk. In light of that, I think it's sound policy to attempt to reduce CO2 emissions."That is what I have always argued as well. The downside risk is huge. When you have a huge risk, you need to mitigate it or be completely prepared to accept the consequences of being wrong. I have a house, and I will bet that it never burns down. I would put the odds of that sort of disaster at less than 1%. But I still have homeowners insurance, because I am not prepared to accept the consequences of being wrong and not having a mitigation plan just in case.RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | December 15, 2009

  125. Kinuachdrach,Geez, I don't know if I want to get into this because it's so emotionally charged and it's not an area I know a lot about. Like a lot of posters, I just want to treat this as science, not as a religion. But from what I've read, here's my take.A lot of people have pointed out that current temperatures are not unusual, geologically speaking, and being a geologist I agree with that. However if we look back 800,000 years, we see that while temperatures are within normal range, current atmospheric CO2 concentrations are not. CO2 is at an unprecedented high for that time frame, assuming measurements and sources are reliable. CO2 is known to be a greenhouse gas. Whether it's actually causing temperatures to go up beyond ordinary geologic scale trends, I can't say… Whether the increased CO2 is caused by man, I can't say, but I have read calculations that say that CO2 ppm squares with estimates of human emissions (then again, your reference said it didn't). We humans are now conducting a grand experiment on the earth's atmosphere and climate. What if we inject unprecedented levels of CO2 into the atmosphere, and cut down millions of acres of forest at the same time?So no, it's not caving into peer pressure, it's a recognition that those peers may, after all, be right, and it's a recognition that our experiment may not turn out in our favor. I'm hedging my bets. I doubt we'll ever have enough data to be sure, since the system is so complex. Of course we need more science. In the meantime, though, it makes sense to me to reduce CO2 emissions to the extent practical. What's "practical" is the $64,000 question. I'll leave that to others.

    Comment by armchair261 | December 15, 2009

  126. "The downside risk is huge."Circular logic again, Robert! The downside risk of catastrophic global warming is a prediction from over-simplified models built by untrustworthy characters based on tainted data.Unless the rate of any future global warming is catastrophically fast (which is extremely improbable), humans will readily adapt to a warmer world. Our ancestors have done it before, in a world that has always been changing. Hell, our ancestors several times survived the rapid planetary warming following Ice Ages — and they did it with a tiny fraction of our current capabilities. The evidence for catastrophically-fast future change is nothing more than the unreliable predictions of so-called "scientists" who have been caught fudging data.Let's get the science right first. After that, we can explore what is the best option for using our limited resources.

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | December 15, 2009

  127. "In the meantime, though, it makes sense to me to reduce CO2 emissions to the extent practical."Armchair — my big concern started when Al Gore did his imfamous "climb on a platform & shoot up to the top of the screen" scene in his movie, to emphasize how much anthropogenic activities would increase future atmospheric CO2. The question in my mind was — Where are we going to find all the fossil fuels to pump all that CO2 into the atmosphere?If you are a geologist, Armchair, you know whereof I speak. Fossil fuels are clearly a finite resource. Nothing new there — Darwin's grandson wrote a book in the early 1950s called "The Next Million Years", projecting the future of the human race. One of his predicates was that, for almost all the next million years, human beings will have to get along without fossil fuels.If we wanted to do something useful today, we would launch into a major expansion of nuclear fission. Known uranium & thorium resources could meet all the energy needs of the entire human race for about 2,000 years. Time enough to develop something even longer-term. And, of course, nuclear energy does not generate CO2. Yet the same people who want to stop us using fossil fuels are also totally opposed to the use of nuclear fission. Go figure.

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | December 15, 2009

  128. "a prediction from over-simplified models built by untrustworthy characters based on tainted data."Conspiracy theorizing? :-) I'd place a large bet that there are perfectly reputable and honest climatologists out there working with untainted data who support AGW."…humans will readily adapt to a warmer world."I agree, if we're talking about hundreds of years, and countries with sufficient resources. I think adaptation will be a lot more difficult if bad things happen in a few decades, especially in poorer countries."Hell, our ancestors several times survived the rapid planetary warming following Ice Ages — and they did it with a tiny fraction of our current capabilities."They also had essentially unlimited land rich in food supply at their disposal. Technology, and the trade infrastructure needed to keep the world supplied with essentials, were not part of their ecosystem, as it is for us now (imagine a world with no A/C, cars, computers, or air travel). Glacier advancing? Move south and hunt there. May the best man win. That kind of massive population shift would now cause incredible human suffering, mainly for the poor. It would be tragic if it was later found to be avoidable, but we chose to not to act because we weren't 100% sure."Let's get the science right first."Agreed…. but…. as I said, how and when will you know whether you got it right? At that point what's your error bar? And what if it turns out you got there too late? Earth sciences are only a step above economics when it comes to predictions and uncertainties."Where are we going to find all the fossil fuels to pump all that CO2 into the atmosphere?"Atmospheric CO2 has increased by about 19% since 1950, from about 320 to 380 ppm. Over the next 60 years I reckon we'll burn more fossil fuels than in the previous 60. Where's the critical point? I don't know, but I'd bet we have enough oil and coal to get us well into the 500 ppm's. As far as oil, the global R/P ratio is now at about 40 years. There will be more discoveries and reserve revisions in the future. We have enough oil and coal to continue along the fossil fuel path for quite a while, if that's the way we want to go, or have to go."Yet the same people who want to stop us using fossil fuels are also totally opposed to the use of nuclear fission. Go figure."And will fight to stop solar panels in their nook of the desert, or wind turbines on their little island. Yep, it's a crazy world.As far as science goes, the big problem I have with AGW is that it's become politically correct. Disagreeing takes some courage as well as very compelling argument. If you sat in a convention hall full of physicists in 1870, they would have all agreed that the universe was filled with ether. Still, it's hard to disregard the consensus on AGW, and it's hard for me to explain all of it away as conspiracies or massive funding incentives or reputation protection schemes.

    Comment by armchair261 | December 15, 2009

  129. "… imagine a world with no A/C, cars, computers, or air travel …"Don't have to imagine it, Armchair. Just talk to an old person today. And they survived!"That kind of massive population shift would now cause incredible human suffering, mainly for the poor."If the onset of rapid warming was as rapid as the onset of Ice Ages has apparently been – Yes. But there is no evidence today for that rapid warming. Just a lot of politicized arm-waving aimed at getting Armchair to pay a lot more taxes.I'm not sure that the argument about the poor being worst-affected really holds up. Their lives are not too great to begin with, and peasants have useful job skills such as the ability to grow their own food. My guess is that the Harvard-educated bureaucrat would be the one to suffer most in the event of catastrophic rapid warming. Not that we are likely ever to see a real-world test of that hypothesis.

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | December 15, 2009

  130. Sure they survived, because their lives didn't depend on those things back then! Now people's lives do depend on efficient infrastructure to get their paychecks and their food. I think in the case of any massive dislocation of people or resources, those with more are in general going to have the advantage over those with less. People in lightly populated rural areas can grow food. Millions in a partially flooded Mumbai ghetto can't. In terms of numbers, most people adversely affected will be in low lying densely populated areas.But I think we're getting close to navel gazing here. :-) I'm willing to plunk down some tax money, just in case, but I accept that others aren't.

    Comment by armchair261 | December 16, 2009

  131. You're the geologist, Armchair. Are you aware of any warming event in the planet's history that was rapid, i.e. that took place in less than many human generation? I'm not.But we are all aware that the planet has been hit many times by large asteroid-type objects. The one at the K-T boundary wiped out 90% of species on Earth, they say.So should we invest your taxes into taking precautions against something theoretical that has never happened, or against something that has actually happened many times?The way it seems to me, the most effective precaution against both the real threat as well as against the merely theoretical threat would be to have a large excess of diversified, geographically-distributed energy sources available. But no-one is talking about spending your taxes on that.

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | December 16, 2009

  132. "Are you aware of any warming event in the planet's history that was rapid, i.e. that took place in less than many human generation? I'm not."Yes in fact this is known to have occurred many times in the recent past, using data quality that is good and correlative. Oxygen isotope data from places as remote as Greenland and the Santa Barbara Channel indicate rapid warming from 4 to 8 degs C has occurred many times in less than the length of the human life span. Typically, warming phases are very rapid, while cooling phases are long and drawn out.And anyway, what we're talking about here is something non-geologic. We have no precedent for it. IF, of course, AGW is real.

    Comment by armchair261 | December 16, 2009

  133. "Typically, warming phases are very rapid, while cooling phases are long and drawn out."Thanks, Armchair. That's very interesting, because it is different from what I have been told in the past. One geologist I knew explained that the start of an Ice Age was 'the summer the snow didn't melt'. Hence the finding of frozen mastadons in Siberia.I guess it is just another of those areas where we need to get the science sorted out before we take big risks spending your money.

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | December 16, 2009

  134. By recent I was referring to the past 60,000 years. During that timeframe, high resolution core data indicate that there were 17 recorded warming phases with increases in temperature occurring in less than 70 years. Cycle times are on the order of a few thousand years. Most of the cooling events were drawn out over those few thousand years, while the warming events were geologically instantaneous. Some cooling events did show spikes with very rapid cooling, so the preservation of a mammoth in ice would not violate these observations. Cycle 12, for example, saw a very rapid temperature increase over decades, followed by a cooling event that persisted for about 3000 years. (Flückiger et al. (2004) if you want to check it out.) But within that 3000 years, there were even higher frequency heating and cooling spikes. I don't know what scale your friend had in mind, but 3000 years would usually be considered as practically instantaneous on the geologic scale, so the statement "very rapid freezing" could well be true in the right context.On top of this are other cycles of varying frequency, such as an approximately 100,000 cycle which also shows relatively fast warming and slower cooling. There appears to be another on the order of 50,000 years that has a somewhat more symmetric look to it. And maybe more cycles, if you talk to someone with more intimate knowledge of the subject.The main point here being that rapid temperature increases are very well documented in the geologic record, and are supported by oxygen 18 isotope data, bioturbation indices (burrowing critters bloom when temperatures rise), methane concentrations, and CO2 concentrations, all correlative at the continental scale.

    Comment by armchair261 | December 16, 2009

  135. Fascinating, Armchair. Thanks for the info on the paper.It is intersting how many rapid (geologically-speaking) temperature fluctuations there have been in the last 60,000 years — long before humans started burning fossil fuels. Might make a guy think, eh?The time issue for adaptation is interesting too. A 70-year warming event is instantaneous geologically-speaking — but it is also an entire human lifetime, or about 3 generations if the young people are getting after it.70 years back would take us to 1939. The Germans were a few years away from marching on Stalingrad with horses & carts as their major form of transport. Almost no commercial air travel. No jet engines. Except for the rich, most people in Europe did not have cars. Few phones. No computers. Even washing machines were a luxury good.The human race built the first nuclear weapons from scratch in under 4 years. Went from the first satellite to standing on the Moon in 10 years. We futz around in normal times, but can move quite rapidly when the chips are down.70 years would actually be quite a feasible time for human adaptation to a catastrophically rapid climate change — provided we had plentiful sources of energy.

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | December 17, 2009

  136. Yeah, that same point… I often think we'd be better off investing more in adaptation strategies rather than prevention (which if AGW is real may prove futile anyway). Still, it makes sense to me to be prudent about it all. Implement policies to discourage CO2 and CH4 emissions and develop the full run of reasonable energy alternatives.The temperature swings don't look so unusual to me, as you say, based on the geological record. What does look unusual are the current levels of CO2 and CH4 in the atmosphere. CO2, CH4, and temperature curves went through their highly correlative cycles over the past 400,000 years, but during that period CO2 never got above 300 ppm. We're now at 380 ppm. Methane, which is even more serious, never exceeded 750 ppb in that period. Now we're at 1800 ppb or so. So in the last 50 years or so, even though we're revisiting previously seen temperatures, we have veered well above the 400,000 year high in CO2 and CH4 concentrations. That's troubling.People would adapt, somehow, but not without a lot of suffering. Some countries may even come out winners (Russia, Canada, Argentina?). I think the difficulty would be that the dislocation might not be orderly. There could well be a head for the exits mentality after one or two particularly hot years say 50 years from now. If something like that happens, it will be extremely stressful for refugees and people in destination areas (maybe for example there will be extreme political pressure for Canadians to seal the borders overrun by heat refugees – then what?), while those left behind may see rapid decay and loss of necessities, security, and services. The lifeboat philosophy may dominate. Hopefully it wouldn't be so bad…. but I'm kinda glad I won't be around to see it happen, if it does.

    Comment by armchair261 | December 17, 2009


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