Good news about climate change!

Summary: To start your week on a pleasant note, here are articles giving good news from climate scientists. It’s easily lost amidst the predictions of apocalypse soon. At the very least, these suggest that we have more time to prepare than commonly expected.

Good News!

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Contents

  1. Update on the rising seas
  2. New research about the effect of more CO2
  3. The big picture about climate change
  4. For More Information

(1) Update on the rising seas

Many experts have disputed claims that rising sea levels were affecting Pacific islands, attributing the damage to their inhabitants wrecking their ecosystems. Slowly the news media takes notice: “Shape-shifting islands defy sea-level rise “, New Scientist, 10 June 2010 (gated) — The full article is gated. For more details see “Pacific islands growing, not sinking“, ABC News. Opening:

For years, people have warned that the smallest nations on the planet – island states that barely rise out of the ocean – face being wiped off the map by rising sea levels. Now the first analysis of the data broadly suggests the opposite: most have remained stable over the last 60 years, while some have even grown.

Even better news comes from new research that shows the oceans continue to rise at the same rates as during the past several centuries, although forecast to accelerate. See “Seas will rise no more than 69 centimetres by 2100“, New Scientist, 14 May 2013

A comprehensive study of the behaviour of ice sheets suggests that … sea levels will rise by 16 to 69 cm {7″ – 27″} by 2100. That’s not too far off the best estimate in the last report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007: it predicted 18 to 59 cm {7″ – 23″} by 2100.

See the actual research for details:

(2) Important new research about the sensitivity of global temperature to rising CO2 levels

One of the active fronts in climate science is research to determine the effect of rising CO2 on global temperatures, with several high-profile papers published this year.

(a) The news media reports the debate (updated)

Climate slowdown means extreme rates of warming ‘not as likely’“, BBC, 19 May 2013 — Excerpt:

Since 1998, there has been an unexplained “standstill” in the heating of the Earth’s atmosphere. Writing in Nature Geoscience, the researchers say this will reduce predicted warming in the coming decades. But long-term, the expected temperature rises will not alter significantly.

A second chance to save the climate“, New Scientist, 19 May 2013 — Opening:

Look closely to see the good news

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“Humanity has a second chance to stop dangerous climate change. Temperature data from the last decade offers an unexpected opportunity to stay below the agreed international target of 2 °C of global warming. A new analysis took temperature rise in the most recent decades, and worked out what this means for the coming ones. It suggests that Earth will warm more slowly over this century than we thought it would, buying us a little more time to cut our greenhouse gas emissions and prevent dangerous climate change.”

Study opens new cracks in scientific front on climate change“, Gerard Wynn (columnist), Reuters, 21 June 2013 — Opening:

A major recent study has put the cat among the pigeons on climate change, challenging the size of the problem in the near-term and the role of a recent slowdown in warming. The paper, published in the journal Nature Geoscience in May, involved scientists from 14 institutions and calculated that more extreme climate change was now less likely, after taking into account slower warming in the past decade.

The notion of changing a view as a result of a single decade of observations is somewhat controversial, given that natural patterns can span several decades. And the paper applied a method for estimating future climate change which is known to produce lower warming estimates than a corresponding measure used by the U.N. climate panel, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The Economist: ECS

A peek inside the next IPCC assessment“, The Economist, 20 July 2013 — Opening:

“THAT report is going to scare the wits out of everyone,” said Yvo de Boer recently. He is a former United Nations chief climate negotiator and was talking about the forthcoming fifth assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). With two months to go before the assessment is to be published, however, one sign suggests it might be less terrifying than it could have been.

The sign in question is about climate sensitivity. This is the measure used by researchers of how much they expect the world’s average temperature to increase in response to particular increases in levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. According to one table from the unpublished report, which was seen by The Economist (above), at CO2 concentrations of between 425 parts per million and 485 ppm, temperatures in 2100 would be 1.3-1.7°C above their pre-industrial levels. That seems lower than the IPCC’s previous assessment, made in 2007. Then, it thought concentrations of 445-490 ppm were likely to result in a rise in temperature of 2.0-2.4°C.

(b) A climate scientist discusses the new research

For more detailed coverage of the debate, I recommend reading these articles by Judith Curry (an eminent climate scientist) at her website, Climate Etc. They describe the major new papers, put them in a larger context, and describe the trend of the debate.

  • New perspectives on climate sensitivity, 19 March 2013 — “Here is a summary of some important new papers on the topics of climate sensitivity and attribution.”
  • Mainstreaming ECS ~ 2 C, 19 May 2013 — “IPCC lead authors are paying attention to the lower sensitivity estimates. It will be very interesting to see how the IPCC AR5 plays this … {and} if the IPCC budges from the 2-4.5 C range that has remained unchanged since the 1979 Charney report.”

(c) For the full story, read the articles in peer-reviewed journals

Evaluating adjusted forcing and model spread for historical and future scenarios in the CMIP5 generation of climate models“, Piers M. Forster et al, Journal of Geophysical Research – Atmospheres, 6 February 2013

The upper end of climate model temperature projections is inconsistent with past warming“, Peter Stott et al, Environmental Research Letters, 19 February 2013 — Abstract:

Climate models predict a large range of possible future temperatures for a particular scenario of future emissions of greenhouse gases and other anthropogenic forcings of climate. Given that further warming in coming decades could threaten increasing risks of climatic disruption, it is important to determine whether model projections are consistent with temperature changes already observed. This can be achieved by quantifying the extent to which increases in well mixed greenhouse gases and changes in other anthropogenic and natural forcings have already altered temperature patterns around the globe.

Here, for the first time, we combine multiple climate models into a single synthesized estimate of future warming rates consistent with past temperature changes. We show that the observed evolution of near-surface temperatures appears to indicate lower ranges (5–95%) for warming (0.35–0.82 K and 0.45–0.93 K by the 2020s (2020–9) relative to 1986–2005 under the RCP4.5 and 8.5 scenarios respectively) than the equivalent ranges projected by the CMIP5 climate models (0.48–1.00 K and 0.51–1.16 K respectively). Our results indicate that for each RCP the upper end of the range of CMIP5 climate model projections is inconsistent with past warming.

Energy budget constraints on climate response“, Alexander Otto et al, Nature Geoscience, 19 May 2013

The most likely value of equilibrium climate sensitivity {ECS} based on the energy budget of the most recent decade is 2.0 °C, with a 5–95% confidence interval of 1.2– 3.9 °C , compared with the 1970–2009 estimate of 1.9 °C (0.9–5.0 °C). Including the period from 2000 to 2009 into the 40-year 1970–2009 period delivers a finite upper boundary, in contrast with earlier estimates calculated using the same method. The range derived from the 2000s overlaps with estimates from earlier decades and with the range of ECS values from current climate models (ECS values in the CMIP5 ensemble are 2.2–4.7 °C), although it is moved slightly towards lower values. Observations of the energy budget alone do not rule out an ECS value below 2 °C, but they do rule out an ECS below 1.2 °C with 95% confidence.

… The best estimate of TCR based on observations of the most recent decade is 1.3 °C (0.9–2.0 °C). This is lower than estimates derived from data of the 1990s (1.6 °C (0.9–3.1 °C) or for the 1970–2009 period as a whole (1.4 °C (0.7–2.5 °C)). Our results match those of other observation-based studies and suggest that the TCRs of some of the models in the CMIP5 ensemble with the strongest climate response to increases in atmospheric CO2 levels may be inconsistent with recent observations — even though their ECS values are consistent and they agree well with the observed climatology. Most of the climate models of the CMIP5 ensemble are, however, consistent with the observations used here in terms of both ECS and TCR.

An objective Bayesian, improved approach for applying optimal fingerprint techniques to estimate climate sensitivity“, Nicholas Lewis, Journal of Climate, in press

Incorporating six years of unused model-simulation data and revising the experimental design to improve diagnostic power reduces the best-fit climate sensitivity. Employing the improved methodology, preferred 90% bounds of 1.2–2.2 K for ECS are then derived (mode and median 1.6 K). The mode is identical to those from Aldrin et al. (2012) and (using the same, HadCRUT4, observational dataset) Ring et al. (2012). Incorporating forcing and observational surface temperature uncertainties, unlike in the original study, widens the 90% range to 1.0–3.0 K.

Update: “Has the magnitude of floods across the USA changed with global CO2 levels?“, RM Hirsch and KR Ryberg (both with USGS), Hydrological Sciences Journal, Issue 1, 2012 — Abstract:

Statistical relationships between annual floods at 200 long-term (85–127 years of record) streamgauges in the coterminous United States and the global mean carbon dioxide concentration (GMCO2) record are explored. The streamgauge locations are limited to those with little or no regulation or urban development. The coterminous US is divided into 4 large regions and stationary bootstrapping is used to evaluate if the patterns of these statistical associations are significantly different from what would be expected under the null hypothesis that flood magnitudes are independent of GMCO2.

In none of the four regions defined in this study is there strong statistical evidence for flood magnitudes increasing with increasing GMCO2. One region, the southwest, showed a statistically significant negative relationship between GMCO2 and flood magnitudes. The statistical methods applied compensate both for the inter-site correlation of flood magnitudes and the shorter-term (up to a few decades) serial correlation of floods.

(3) The big picture about climate change

While cheering madly for their faction of scientists, laypeople often lose sight of the big picture — the key elements for making public policy about this important issue.

  • The major global temperature measurement systems tell — broadly speaking — the same story since the late 1970s: two decades of warming, followed by a pause.
  • This is consistent with the larger firm conclusions of climate scientists: two centuries of warming, coming in pulses (ie, waves), with anthropogenic factors becoming the largest (not the only) drivers since roughly 1950.
  • The work of the IPCC and the major science institutes are the best guides for information about these issues.
  • There is a debate about the attribution (causes) of past warming — which probably varied over time — between natural drivers (eg, rebound from the Little Ice Age, solar influences) and anthropogenic drivers (eg, CO2, aerosols, land use changes). The IPCC reports make few claims about attribution of current climate activity to warming to date, as that remains actively debated in the literature.
  • There is an even larger debate about climate forecasts, both the extent of future CO2 emissions, and the net effects of the various natural and anthropogenic drivers.

For the past five years my recommendations have been the same:

  • More funding for climate sciences. Many key aspects (eg, global temperature data collection and analysis) are grossly underfunded.
  • Wider involvement of relevant experts in this debate. For example, geologists, statisticians and software engineers have been largely excluded — although their fields of knowledge are deeply involved.

World Equations

(4) For More Information

(a) See the posts listed on these Reference Pages:

(b) About forecasts of climate change:

  1. Global warming means more earthquakes!, 19 June 2008
  2. About those headlines from the past century about global cooling…,
    2 November 2009
  3. The facts about the 1970’s Global Cooling scare, 7 December 2009
  4. Global warming causes earthquakes and volcanic eruptions (yes, this story is real), 27 April 2010
  5. Looking into the past for guidance about warnings of future climate apocalypses, 17 October 2010
  6. Hurricane Sandy asks when did weather become exceptional?, 28 October 2012
  7. Checking up on past forecasts about climate change, a guide to the future, 6 January 2013

(c) About rising sea levels:

  1. About that melting arctic ice cap, 17 April 2010
  2. Fear or Fail: about the melting Greenland ice sheet, 24 May 2010
  3. Today’s good news, about rising sea levels, 3 June 2010 — Esp note the links to articles and studies!
  4. It’s time to worry (again) about disappearing arctic ice, 8 June 2010
  5. Climate Armageddon postponed (again): the melting polar ice, 9 October 2010
  6. More about the forecast for flooded cities in the late 21st century, 16 October 2010
  7. About the coming sea ice Armageddon!, 19 June 2012
  8. Shaping your view of the world with well-constructed propaganda, 21 June 2012 — About rising sea levels.
  9. Run from the rising waves! (The latest climate catastrophe scare), 27 June 2012
  10. The seas are rising, and have been over ten thousand years. What comes next?, 27 December 2012

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Science

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29 thoughts on “Good news about climate change!

  1. Small but alarming typo: “Even better news comes from new research that shows the oceans continue to rise at roughly 7″ per year…”

    7 inches per decade… 7 inches per year would not be very good news!

    1. These are the most difficult kinds of typos to catch. Thank you very much for pointing it out.

      The rate is 7 inches per century. It’s not a problem unless the polar icecaps melt (Greenland and Antarctica). That’s a theory. Sea ice is increasing around Artarctica. Data about changes in mass of Greenland and Antarctica are as yet uncertain (more precipitation might increase snowfall).

  2. “For example, […] software engineers have been largely excluded […]”

    What do you mean with “largely excluded”?

    Who is building and programming all those measurement stations and observation satellites? Who is developing those complex statistical analysis tools? Who is programming those complex simulation models on supercomputers?

    “For the past five years my recommendations have been the same:”

    In summary: observe and investigate. What about counteracting, mitigating or adapting to climate change? Since “anthropogenic factors [became] the largest (not the only) drivers since roughly 1950”, this is the crucial issue. From one of the references you cite:

    “It suggests that Earth will warm more slowly over this century than we thought it would, buying us a little more time to cut our greenhouse gas emissions and prevent dangerous climate change.””

    Measuring and observing what happens only is basically equivalent to “wait and see”, and it is not a sensible option. The scientists you cite explicitly state we have to launch active measures to cut down on greenhouse gases.

    So what is your position in this respect?

    1. “What do you mean with “largely excluded”?”

      If you mean “from the _general public_ debate”, then I understand your point. Otherwise, those software engineers are already quite involved in the technical, scientific debate.

    2. “those software engineers are already quite involved in the technical, scientific debate.”

      I mean in the sense that this point is commonly made — from third party review of the models. Just getting the code used in studies released has been a decade-long battle — little of which is designed or reviewed bu software engineers.

      Ditto, little input from statisticians into the statistical basis of paleoclimatic analysis. Little input from dendrochronologists into the tree-ring analysis used for paleoclimatic analysis.

      It is a structural problem, perhaps resulting partially from lack of funding.

    3. “The scientists you cite explicitly state we have to launch active measures to cut down on greenhouse gases. ”

      This is basic public policy: the people doing the work are not the appropriate ones to review their own work — as commonly done today at every level from journal reviews to writing IPCC reports — and even less so to set public policy implications.

      Aside from conflict of interest, they have inadequate cognitive distance from the subject.

      Guidelines developed elsewhere, such as new drug development and approval, are IMO desperately needed in this far more important subject. Climate-related public policy violates the basic common-sense procedural standards, which is IMO why there is so little public support for large-scale measures. Corners have been cut at every step, and now we reap the consequences.

      I support funding for more research, but little else. Developing alternative energy sources should be a priority for other reasons (eg, peak oil, reduce pollution) — but these researchers and advocates have made the exact same errors, and so also lack public support.

    4. “Citation, please, to a third party review by software engineers of a major global climate model?”

      You mean something like this?

      http://www.geosci-model-dev.net/5/1009/2012/gmd-5-1009-2012.pdf

      Climate researchers are well aware of the difficult issue of evaluating climate models from a software engineering perspective, and have already proposed approaches to deal with it:

      http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.185.993&rep=rep1&type=pdf

      “I support funding for more research, but little else.”

      The fact that scientists investigating climate change might not be the most appropriate people to set policies, or that politicians have taken incomplete or misguided measures to deal with the problem does not nullify the necessity to take concrete measures — starting perhaps with the “guidelines developed elsewhere, such as new drug development and approval”. But refusing to tackle the consequences or the causes of the problem — e.g. no reforestation program, no stricter CO2 standards — unavoidably makes one think that you do not believe that climate change is such an urgent, major problem after all.

      “Climate-related public policy violates the basic common-sense procedural standards”

      Could you point out some references about those “basic common-sense procedural standards”? (Perhaps they are known under some well-established name)

    5. guest,

      Thank you for your detailed response.

      (1) article about climate models

      Yes, that is the type of review we need. But given the scale of the problem — and the cost of the solutions — are a far larger scale.

      (2) “Climate researchers are well aware of the difficult issue of evaluating climate models from a software engineering perspective, and have already proposed approaches to deal with it:”

      Yes, such proposals have circulated for several years (perhaps longer). Funding and implementation are imperative, IMO.

      (3) I don’t understand your points in the 2nd half of your comment. Public policy is about regulation and spending on the basis of well-established science. Third party review by independent and relevant experts is a well-established part of that process, from new drugs to civil engineering. Do you disagree?

      So far there have been only ad hoc reviews, brief and with little funding. Such as the Wegman report and the NAS hearings. People who consider this a life-threatening problem (broadly defined) should have — and be — insisted on this as a standard and necessary step to build support.

      In fact the climate science community — and its lay supporters — have taken the opposite approach, which appears to have failed spectacularly.

    1. Climate change is not usefully seen as a matter of direction (“More” or “less”), as that provides not useful guidance for public policy. It’s about timing and magnitude: when and how much. That’s the subject of climate science research today.

      These articles discuss those questions, as seen in current best estimates (e.g., IPCC, NOAA) and cutting edge research in peer-reviewed journals (e.g., temperature response to rising CO2).

      So what’s the message of your comment? It is not clear to me.

  3. Indeed, as if this “good news” will affect policy, since the “bad news” didn’t have much effect on our decision making process, either. It makes me wonder if we are simply each part of an unthinking biological system known as “humanity” that exists to consume energy, as do all biological entities.

    My cynicism aside, I think you point out some important things here, in particular about some climate models.

    Now, some people, bent on denying anthropogenic climate change, have come away from this slowing of warming to assert that the warming is just part of a natural cycle that balances out in the long run.

    However, the slowdown is: 1) Not a cessation of warming. 2) That is has two causes:

    a) Skeptical Science writes:

    “To claim global warming stopped in 1998 overlooks one simple physical reality – the land and atmosphere are just a small fraction of the Earth’s climate (albeit the part we inhabit). The entire planet is accumulating heat due to an energy imbalance. The atmosphere is warming. Oceans are accumulating energy. Land absorbs energy and ice absorbs heat to melt. To get the full picture on global warming, you need to view the Earth’s entire heat content.”

    b) Adding more analysis to this, Kaufmanna,Kauppib, Manna, and Stock write in “Reconciling anthropogenic climate change with observed temperature 1998–2008”:

    “Given the widely noted increase in the warming effects of rising greenhouse gas concentrations, it has been unclear why global surface temperatures did not rise between 1998 and 2008. We find that this hiatus in warming coincides with a period of little increase in the sum of anthropogenic and natural forcings. Declining solar insolation as part of a normal eleven-year cycle, and a cyclical change from an El Nino to a La Nina dominate our measure of anthropogenic effects because rapid growth in short-lived sulfur emissions partially offsets rising greenhouse gas concentrations. As such, we find that recent global temperature records are consistent with the existing understanding of the relationship among global surface temperature, internal variability, and radiative forcing, which includes anthropogenic factors with well known warming and cooling effects.”

    So, the oceans absorb energy so they continue to warm, while China’s coal burning darkens the sky, much like tinted glass lessen mute the effects of sunlight. But the sun keeps burning and growing CO2 in the atmosphere keeps absorbing more energy, which means more heat.

    Since you’ve looked into this and have more policy experience than I, what do yo suggest we do? The President is inexperienced and out of his league, Congress is dysfunctional and the corporate machine’s profits benefit from burning fossil fuels.

    1. Marc,

      (1) Considering how many professional websites there are explaining the climate sciences, I find it astonishing that so many people reply on propaganda websites like Skeptical Science. This quote is typical confusion.

      “Skeptical Science writes: “To claim global warming stopped in 1998 overlooks one simple physical reality – the land and atmosphere are just a small fraction of the Earth’s climate (albeit the part we inhabit).”

      The statement by Carter that S.S. disputes is quite correct, although poorly stated. Climate scientists have been quite clear that the pause concerns the relevant part of the Earth: the near-surface temperatures. Surface and lower atmosphere temperatures are the subject of the IPCC forecasts, and the failure of those to rise as predicted is the subject of much research (described in several posts; see the list here).

      Also, as usual, the SS article presents a theory — presented in a few recent studies — as fact. The deep oceans might be absorbing the “missing heat”, but the data (largely the ARGO floats) are of uncertain accuracy (calibration has been a major project) and have too short a history to draw firm conclusions at this point. As most of the scientists working on this clearly state.

      The SS writers often either fail to mention or do so dismissively research that disagrees with their theories — as if they were Science Gods.

      (2) “However, the slowdown is: 1) Not a cessation of warming.”

      It’s *probably* not a cessation of warming. No biblical truths here, just science.

      (3) “Adding more analysis to this”

      For a more complete description of research about the pause, see Still good news: global temperatures remain stable, at least for now. Among other sources, it has links & abstracts to what I believe are the ten most cited papers on this subject (including Kaufmanna et al).

      (4) “So, the oceans absorb energy so they continue to warm”

      That’s a theory. It’s a subject of active research; however a few papers don’t make it a firm conclusion. Quite a few climate scientists have remarked on this tendency of laymen to prematurely interpret papers as proofs.

      (5) “The President is inexperienced and out of his league, Congress is dysfunctional and the corporate machine’s profits benefit from burning fossil fuels.”

      I’m uncertain if I agree with any of those conclusions.

      But there is a more important question: if the fate of the world is at stake, why the reluctance of advocates to follow standard procedures to establish the validity of their claims? Public policy actions require far higher standards of evidence than normal peer-review for publication. Extraordinary claims — extraordinary policy proposals — require extraordinary assuarances (see Learning skepticism, an essential skill for citizenship in 21st century America) for an excerpt from Truzzi’s famous article.

      Instead the response has been the exact opposite. Secrecy instead of inviting reviews, plus personal attacks and secret plotting to undermine those who disagree. It does not inspire confidence, and has in fact poisoned the debate. Until things are put on a firmer foundation I doubt any large-scale public policy measures are possible in most of the developed world — and almost impossible in the emerging world.

    2. (1) Forgot to add: my thoughts on appropriate public policy actions appear upthread in reply to guest.

      Also see:

      (2) Some supporting examples of confidence-destroying actions

      “Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?”
      — Email from Phil Jones (Director of the UK Climate Research Unit) to Warwick Hughes

      Jones was not kidding, as proven by the CRU’s long non-response to Freedom of Information Act (UK version) requests. An investigation concluded that this was illegal, but they stonewalled sufficiently long so that the statue of limitations had expired.

      Other examples are failure of climate scientists to release information on data and methods as required by government regulations (where we’ve paid for the work) and journal requirements. Lonnie Thompson’s ice cores are an outstanding example. A decade of work by skeptics has improved these practices, just one of the many valuable procedural reforms they’ve produced.

    3. Conclusions of the UK Parliamentary Inquiry into the disclosure of climate data from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia

      “CLIMATE SCIENCE MUST BECOME MORE TRANSPARENT SAY MPs”, press release, 31 March 2010

      The Science and Technology Committee today publishes its report on the disclosure of climate data from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia. The Committee calls for the climate science community to become more transparent by publishing raw data and detailed methodologies.

      Phil Willis MP, Committee Chair, said:

      “Climate science is a matter of global importance. On the basis of the science, governments across the world will be spending trillions of pounds on climate change mitigation. The quality of the science therefore has to be irreproachable. What this inquiry revealed was that climate scientists need to take steps to make available all the data that support their work and full methodological workings, including their computer codes. Had both been available, many of the problems at CRU could have been avoided.”

      The focus on Professor Jones and CRU has been largely misplaced. On the accusations relating to Professor Jones’s refusal to share raw data and computer codes, the Committee considers that his actions were in line with common practice in the climate science community but that those practices need to change.

    1. Andres,

      First, it’s a good thing that we probably have more time than previous forecasts.

      Second, we’re talking about the data, not agitprop. The purpose is to inform people, not manipulate their opinions. Climate activists too often seek to shape the news flow in order to mold opinions. It should be evident by now that has failed to build needed support. Remember the AA definition of insanity: repeating the same activity, hoping for a better outcome.

    2. Marc,

      I don’t see your point. I have consistently said that the politization of the issue has resulted in increasingly ugly tactics by both sides.

      However, as someone who has followed this from the beginning — arbitrarily starting with James Hansen’s testimony at a Senate hearing on 23 June 1988. When they deliberately turned off the air conditioning to set the stage.

      This was followed by Mann’s response to initial questions about his hockey stick: misreptesentation, failure to release data and methods, personal attacks. It was an aggressive response, went downhill from there, and has failed.

    3. Here’s a fun question: list those sources — scientists and professionals — who you rely on for relatively unbiased information about climate?

      It’s worth some thought. My immediate short-list:

      * Judith Curry, Prof of climate science at GA Institute Tech
      * Richard Muller, Prof Physics at Berkley, head of the Berkley Earth Surface Temperature project
      * Richard Lindzen, Prof of climate science at MIT
      * James Lovelock, PhD Medicine, devised the Gaia hypothesis
      * Roger Pielke Sr, Prof Emeritus of Atmospheric Science at CO U
      * Roger Pielke Jr, Prof Environmental Studies, U CO-Boulder

      Perhaps more usefully, I rely on reports by science-related institutions that summarize the state of climate science, such as NOAA and the IPCC. I mostly ignore institutions writing about climate who have no institutional expertise in relevant fields, such as DoD and the energy agencies.

      This personal list also helps me filter out lay writers. I usually stop reading when I see denials of the expertise of eminent scientists and major science institutions — classic indicator of agitprop at work, attempting to put blinders on our minds. This is a common tactic of both sides, very effective on the gullible.

    4. Two more names for the list (I’ve added them to the previous comment):

      Roger Pielke Sr, Prof Emeritus of Atmospheric Science at CO U
      Roger Pielke Jr, Prof Environmental Studies, U CO-Boulder

  4. Before I answer, let me ask: can you explain why the light comes through the atmosphere from the sun to hit the earth, but is absorbed by CO2 (and other “greenhouse gases”) on the way back out? Shouldn’t it go out the same way?

    If you’re a chess player, you can predict my answer to your challenge from my question.

    1. This sounds like an intro from someone, like Jordan speaking about economics, who thinks these things are childishly simple. Anyone can answer from a few simple deductions from first principles!

      How odd that NOAA and the UK Met office bother with supercomputers, and still find it difficult to make accurate forecasts.

      And all those scientists researching the dynamics of climate sensitivity: varying relationship of co2 to temperature (it is not linear), water feedback (far larger factor than direct warming from CO2), negative feedback from clouds, etc.

      Marc, can I send them your email address? They need answers to these questions!

  5. It’s a basic scientific question. Why so dodge the answer? And it doesn’t matter who answers it, since the scientific principles here are universal.

    1) The answer: the sunlight entering the atmosphere comes in as shortwave infrared which passes to the earth’s surface, where it is converted to longwave ultraviolet: Here’s a picture to help: http://apollo.lsc.vsc.edu/classes/met130/notes/chapter2/te_earth.html

    Less longwave passes through the atmorphere. Instead, the longwave is absorbed by the “greenhouse gases.” More gases = more energy absorbed = more heat.

    2) Contrary to what you are asserting here about your experts, it doesn’t matter who says this, since it is science and the energy principles here are universal.

    3) I’ll cite the climate experts at NASA as my sources. Pretty solid stuff. Does comparing them to your experts change the science?

    Not a bad answer for a child, eh?

    1. I am re-reading Marc’s coy little comment, pondering its intent. Is it a rebuttal to the IPCC? A suggestion that Science and Nature should stop running reports about climate science research?

      Every post describing current climate science research sparks such comments. My *guess* is that these are part of the long-standing tradition of American anti-science popularism. Such as creationism, with people writing comments, much like Marc’s, showing how obviously we cannot be descended from lower animals.

      Convincing people that the world is complex is a long task, obviously only partially completed.

  6. While the activists tell their tales, and the anti-science crowd insist that their grade-school lessons are all that’s needed to understand the world — climate scientists continue to learn more about the world. As in this news about the upcoming IPCC report:

    The Economist: ECS

    A peek inside the next IPCC assessment“, The Economist, 20 July 2013 — Opening:

    “THAT report is going to scare the wits out of everyone,” said Yvo de Boer recently. He is a former United Nations chief climate negotiator and was talking about the forthcoming fifth assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). With two months to go before the assessment is to be published, however, one sign suggests it might be less terrifying than it could have been.

    The sign in question is about climate sensitivity. This is the measure used by researchers of how much they expect the world’s average temperature to increase in response to particular increases in levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. According to one table from the unpublished report, which was seen by The Economist (above), at CO2 concentrations of between 425 parts per million and 485 ppm, temperatures in 2100 would be 1.3-1.7°C above their pre-industrial levels. That seems lower than the IPCC’s previous assessment, made in 2007. Then, it thought concentrations of 445-490 ppm were likely to result in a rise in temperature of 2.0-2.4°C.

    1. Jim,

      Thanks for the reference! I added more detail to your citation, hopefully encourging people to click on it.

      For more info about arctic see the Population Status Page of the Polar Bear Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission.

      More broadly, this is an example of an aspect of global warming that is deliberately ignored: beneeficial effects of global warming.

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