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Weekend reflections

July 20th, 2007

Weekend Reflections is on again. Please comment on any topic of interest (civilised discussion and no coarse language, please). Feel free to put in contributions more lengthy than for the Monday Message Board or standard comments.

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  1. Jill Rush
    July 20th, 2007 at 22:36 | #1

    Alison Broinowski published a shocking opinion in the Adelaide Advertiser Friday 20 July. It was entitled “Howard leaves Australians in the dark”.

    Dr Broinowski has credibility as a former diplomat and current fellow at ANU and provides hitherto unconnected pieces of information.

    She draws together several concurrent threads about the north of Australia. One of which is the army and police action in many Aboriginal communities as an emergency, ostensibly for the protection of Aboriginal children.

    She also highlights the two week military exercises held recently – the biggest ever joint training session with the US Army in manouevres called Talisman Sabre.

    Dr Broinowski discusses the Adelaide – Darwin rail line which links military training areas, uranium mines, sites for future nuclear waste dumps and Aboriginal lands. The railway was built by a Halliburton consortium. ( Now there’s a familiar name).

    A railway, which runs conveniently close to Port Augusta and Roxby Downs – two preferred nuclear sites. She postulates that this will lead to the dumping of Nuclear Waste as a new high level nuclear waste dump in Nevada, USA, is unusable and there is 47,000 tonnes requiring storage. The Wilderness Society also believes that there are plans for a nuclear waste dump in the north as a result of the government announcement that Australia wants to join an exclusive nuclear club with the US.

    Dr Broinowski’s opinion would explain why the visitors’ permit system is to be done away with in Aboriginal Communities: and why the government has tied 5 year land leases with the provision of help to its neediest citizens.

    Alexander Downer has stated that it is the wackiest idea that Australia would store Nuclear Waste. His dismissal of the notion is too glib especially when Dr Broinowski has provided persuasive evidence. After taking over large tracts of Northern Territory land what would there be to stop the government helping the Americans solve their waste problems.

    John Howard’s assurance that there is no plan for a waste dump is as convincing as his statement that there would never, ever be a GST – and look how well that turned out.

  2. July 21st, 2007 at 07:05 | #2

    don’t you ever wish you had citizen initiative, and could stop this sort of thing? don’t you ever wish you were a citizen?

  3. July 21st, 2007 at 15:30 | #3

    Broinowski has serious form in the nutcase department. Not as fruity as Chomsky, but still a nutter.

  4. Pepper
    July 21st, 2007 at 15:36 | #4

    I went to the lunchtime session on the ANU campus last Friday that was to “debunk� the previous evening’s showing of the Global Warming Swindle on the ABC. The audience consisted of people who had been taken in by the show and so had come along to be de-programmed. Not. It wasn’t entirely preaching to the choir but the panel of three spoke to several of the audience by name and at the end of the session the chairman expressed his surprise that it had been a reasonable audience.

    One of the professors had put up the paired graphs of long-term temperature and CO2 as Gore does. Gore shows the two graphs, CO2 and temperature, going back for millions of years and stands back and says something like: “So – no connection, eh? Hmmm.â€? And the audience laughs for the two graphs are unmistakably similar. He does not mention that the CO2 lags the temperature by centuries. Our professor did not put on Gore’s little act but he also did not mention the lag.

    So I asked. I said I understood temperature precedes CO2 by 800 years on average hence the CO2 cannot be causing the temperature. I added that it was obvious the weather today cannot affect the weather in the year 1200. The story changed. Now it was the “Milankovic cycle�, orbital movements cause the 100K year cycle of ice ages – but the CO2 “amplifies� the temperature caused by Milankovic. These answers, from two of them, were quite long-winded. I listened politely and then asked how it could be, if CO2 amplified, that the temperature starts to fall hundreds of years before CO2 stops rising. I was ignored and they went to the next questioner.

    So when it was over I approached the panel and asked the professor why he doesn’t put up a graph of the Milankovic cycle if that is what counts. I forget his reply. To my expostulations that no event can cause something which precedes it, he insisted that the CO2 coming after the temperature could cause it and said that if I didn’t get it, it was my fault. I should say that during the session, two people in the audience had rather bluntly commented on the panel’s lack of communication skills. Anyway, one of their mates from the audience who had also come to the front desk, said I should read the scientific papers. I don’t really agree with that since my question was based on the information presented. Still, the offer was well-meant and he sent me a raft of papers and directed me to one in particular, Hansen et al 2007.

    A much expanded version of this paper (with an added author) can be found here:
    http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/docs/2007/2007_Hansen_etal_2.pdf
    but the part I quote from is the same.

    Page 1928 [GHG = greenhouse gas]
    The temperature change appears to usually lead the gas changes by typically several hundred years, as discussed below and indicated in figure 1b. This suggests that warming climate causes a net release of these GHGs by the ocean, soils and biosphere.

    So warming causes gas release. They say it clearly. That makes sense on two grounds (i) it comes first(!), and (ii) the graphs closely correspond. The above para continues:

    GHGs are thus a powerful amplifier of climate change, comparable to the surface albedo feedback, as quantified below.

    “Thus�? There is no “thus�. Maybe they amplify and maybe they don’t but there is no basis here for the claim. Does the “thus� refer to some previous discussion? Not that I can see.

    Temperature precedes gas; temperature is the instigator of the gas. This is admitted. So when temperature falls and hundreds of years later the gas starts falling, the temperature must be the instigator of the fall. Temperature falls, the ocean cools and absorbs CO2. Evidence of “amplification�? Nil. The para continues:

    The GHGs, because they change almost simultaneously with the climate, are a major “cause� of glacial-to-interglacial climate change, as shown below, even if, as seems likely, they slightly lag the climate change and thus are not the initial instigator of change.

    This is ludicrous. Something that happens later “causesâ€? something that happens before. Something is the cause because it is almost simultaneous. Something is the cause but not the instigator. How can six scientists write that? Why the quotes on “causeâ€?? Has science two kinds of causes: with and without quotes? A “major ’cause’â€? of a change is something that happens after the change. This is cloud cuckoo land. At some level I think they know it: consider the “even ifâ€? and “slightlyâ€?? Do such words help time fudge the back-step?

    The professor seemed to think so. When I had asked that question he emphasised that it is not always 800 years but somewhat less. What’s his point? Time can go backwards providing it is only a short interval? 8 centuries or 8 milliseconds – to claim cause follows effect is wacko. The only point in noting that it is 800 years is that such a substantial interval is not so likely to be a measurement artefact.

    Further down page 1928:

    Therefore we can only say with certainty that the temperature and gas changes are nearly synchronous. Data from a different Antarctic (Dome C) ice core with slightly higher snow accumulation rate (Monnin et al. 2001) and an independent analysis based on Argon isotopes (Caillon et al. 2003) support temperature leading GHGs by ~600-800 years. Also carbon cycle models yield increases of GHGs in response to warming oceans and receding ice sheets.

    So warming does cause GHGs! Admitted with evidence from multiple directions.

    Why talk about the Milankovic cycle when it actually demonstrates the opposite of the claim that GHGs cause warming? In the case of a public presentation of the two graphs it is to pretend, as Gore did, to have dramatic evidence that CO2 causes temperature. In short: deceit. In the case of the scientific paper – what? Collective delusion? Preconception?

    If the Milankovic cycle is driving it, why not put up a graph of it to show the correspondence? Two reasons (i)because there is no such graph (see Wikipedia) and the effect, which has been discussed since mid 19C, is unclear; (ii) because if Milankovic is the cause, it is not CO2.

  5. jquiggin
    July 21st, 2007 at 15:49 | #5

    Maybe I’m missing your point here, Pepper. If CO2 is a feedback mechanism, amplifying the temperature increase caused by orbital changes, then it would behave in exactly the way you’ve described, lagging the turning points at top and bottom.

    The Wikipedia article on the Milankovitch cycle notes that some sort of feedback is required,

    The Milankovitch theory of climate change is not perfectly worked out; in particular, the largest observed response is at the 100,000 year timescale, but the forcing is apparently small at this scale, in regard to the ice ages. Various feedbacks (from carbon dioxide, or from ice sheet dynamics) are invoked to explain this discrepancy.

    And of course, positive feedbacks (via water vapour) make our current problems worse.

  6. Pepper
    July 21st, 2007 at 17:58 | #6

    Something that happens centuries after an event cannot cause (or “cause”) that event!

    I am merely saying that the evidence of the 100Kyear cycle is of temperature responding to insolation change due to orbital change and
    of CO2 passively following temperature. The mechanics seem to be explained: increase in temperature warms the oceans releasing CO2; decrease in temperature cools the oceans which absorbs CO2.

    CO2 might amplify – but there is no evidence within the Milankovic cycle. All it shows is that CO2 follows temperature. So why mention the cycle at all?

  7. July 21st, 2007 at 22:41 | #7

    I’ll reply with an email from someone who knows a lot more than all of us:

    From: Jeff Severinghaus [mailto:[email protected]]
    Sent: Monday, 12 March 2007 12:16 PM
    To: carbonsink
    Subject: Re: Andrew Bolt and your interview on the Science Show

    Dear Carbonsink,

    Bolt is being misleading (I hope not intentionally) in some very subtle ways. Gore’s statement is in fact correct. Every time that carbon dioxide rose in the past, at the ends of ice ages, temperature also rose. The converse is not true, as we found in our ice core research. Every time temperature rose, carbon dioxide DID NOT necessarily rise. In fact, we found that there are warmings of about 800 years at the very beginning of the deglaciations that were not accompanied by CO2 increase.

    What this means is that there are other things besides carbon dioxide that cause temperature increase. It does not mean that carbon dioxide does not cause temperature increase, nor does it mean that Gore was wrong.

    I hope this sheds some light on the situation.

    By the way, I did send letters to both the Herald Sun and the Brisbane newspaper. Neither were published.

    Jeff

    On Mar 10, 2007, at 10:05 PM, carbonsink wrote:

    Andrew Bolt is demanding an apology for Robyn Williams’ “shameless slur” on the Science Show:
    http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/answering_williams_shameless_slur/
    Your thoughts?

  8. July 21st, 2007 at 22:58 | #8

    Can someone help me with calculating the effective rate of petrol taxes paid at the pump since Howard froze the fuel excise at 38c/L?

    For argument’s sake lets the price at the pump was 88c/L in 2001, 8c of that was GST and 38c was fuel excise. Pre-tax price 42c/L + 46c tax = 88c/L, so effective tax rate was 110%.

    Currently petrol is around $1.25/L comprising ~11c GST and 38c fuel excise. Pre-tax price 76c/L + 49c tax = $1.25/L, so an effective tax rate of 64%.

    So Howard has reduced fuel taxes from 110% to 64% since 2001. Is this (more or less) correct?

    If so, combined with the sharp appreciation in the AUD since 2001, Australians (despite our groaning) have hardly felt the real effects of the sharp rise in crude oil. Without the assistance of Mr Howard and the strong Australian dollar we would currently be paying more than $2.00/L.

    Also, perhaps PrQ can explain how the Queensland Fuel Subsidy works. Does the Queensland government pay back 8.354 cents per litre of the fuel excise to the feds?

  9. Pepper
    July 21st, 2007 at 23:38 | #9

    “Every time that carbon dioxide rose in the past, at the ends of ice ages, temperature also rose. The converse is not true, as we found in our ice core research.”

    If that is so, it is surprising that Hansen et al don’t claim it. They do do the correlation of the two and have graph of that: the “figure 1b”, they refer to in the quote above.

    When you look at the two graphs they track very well, the downs and the ups, including short term (ca 5-10K year) reversals of which there are plenty. Everything would have been put into the correlation.

    “we found that there are warmings of about 800 years at the very beginning of the deglaciations that were not accompanied by CO2 increase.”

    An 800 year lag is not a lack of accompaniment. There is a 600-800 year lag of the CO2. A GENERAL lag – beginning and end of glaciations and all the zig zags in the middle. Severinghouse should engage with Hansen et al. Presumably it takes that long for the oceans’ cooling or heating to have an impact on CO2 levels.

  10. July 22nd, 2007 at 08:59 | #10

    There’s more from Severinghaus and RC on the 800 year lag here and here.

  11. Pepper
    July 22nd, 2007 at 15:33 | #11

    I read quite a lot of the first link Carbonsink gives.
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/04/the-lag-between-temp-and-co2/
    Logic! After naming multiple causes Severinghouse says:
    “Thus it is not logical to argue that, because CO2 does not cause the first thousand years or so of warming, nor the first thousand years of cooling, it cannot have caused part of the many thousands of years of warming in between.�
    1. “Cannot� is a straw man. The point is the claim does not follow from the data. Indeed, that sentence seems to me to be ridiculous. It would not be logical to argue a china teapot “cannot� be orbiting the sun.
    2. The CO2 lag applies, apparently, to the myriad zig-zags up and down, not just to the half dozen major ice age cycles. The data show a couple of dozen zigs and zags in every major cycle. Where is the room for “amplification� or “positive feedback� if we lop off a thousand years at the top and bottom of each?
    “So one should not claim that greenhouse gases are the major cause of the ice ages. No credible scientist has argued that position (even though Al Gore implied as much in his movie).�
    Really! Say no more!
    The following is from the main blog entry by Eric Steig:
    “While we don’t know precisely why the CO2 changes occur on long timescales, (the mechanisms are well understood; the details are not), we do know that explaining the magnitude of global temperature change requires including CO2. This is a critical point. We cannot explain the temperature observations without CO2.â€? [The last sentence is in italics.]
    1. I do not know what the grounds are for this assertion but I do know that just because explanation is required is not itself a justification for hauling in a specific factor.
    2. If (IF) something else is required and if CO2 is the candidate through providing positive feedback, then why, oh why, does it stop and start? Why does the temperature fall even though the CO2 keeps on rising for several further centuries? Why, oh why, are so many people putting so much effort into trying to bend and twist things to justify an implausible interpretation? A LOGICAL inference from the 100K year cycle data would be that the CO2 is providing negative feedback, not positive. That is the LOGIC of the long term data – if correlation were cause.
    That last assertion is symptomatic of this whole business. A NEED is driving the explanation. People talk themselves into things. It is no way to do science and in this instance the explanation being insisted on is contrary to plausible inference from the data.

  12. July 22nd, 2007 at 18:13 | #12

    Pepper,

    Mate, I don’t know what your problem is. The CO2 amplifies temperature changes initiated by the Milankovitch cycle. Its a positive feedback, just like changes to albedo.

    That last assertion is symptomatic of this whole business. A NEED is driving the explanation. People talk themselves into things. It is no way to do science and in this instance the explanation being insisted on is contrary to plausible inference from the data.
    Equally, it seems like you’re trying very hard to talk yourself into any explanation other than the one the vast majority climate scientists agree with.

  13. jquiggin
    July 22nd, 2007 at 19:41 | #13

    I must say, Pepper, I share carbonsink’s bemusement. If you can show that the science of the Milankovitch cycle is obviously wrong, there’s a publication in Nature or Science waiting for you. But as far as I can see, you just don’t understand the term “feedback”.

  14. Chris O’Neill
    July 23rd, 2007 at 02:27 | #14

    Pepper:”Why does the temperature fall even though the CO2 keeps on rising for several further centuries?”

    When does it do that? BTW, the temperature rise during the first 800 years of the last de-glaciation was about 15% of the total temperature rise during the whole of the last deglaciation, i.e. about 1.2 degrees out of 8 degrees at the Vostok ice-core, or about 0.75-0.9 degrees out of 5-6 degrees for the global average (polar temperatures vary more than the global average). This compares with about 2 degrees of global warming caused by the CO2 (with short term feedbacks) released during deglaciation. (The warming from CO2 also causes long term feedback through reduction of ice area.) The proof that GHGs must cause some of the warming during deglaciations depends on calculation of the Milankovitch warming along with the long term feedback from ice area reduction. The Milankovitch-ice area reduction warming on its own is not enough to explain the total warming.

    Interesting to contemplate that humanity is on track to produce half the global warming of the last deglaciation in the next 100 years (without even considering ice-area feedback), even though this much warming took 2,500 years in the last deglaciation.

  15. gordon
    July 23rd, 2007 at 10:58 | #15

    I have long suspected that US indifference towards climate change reflects, at least in part, a belief that other countries will be harmed more than the US will be. Here is a review of a new paper reporting exactly that outcome for agriculture. An August 2006 version of the paper can be downloaded from here N.B.: .pdf).

  16. Pepper
    July 23rd, 2007 at 14:08 | #16

    ” â€?Why does the temperature fall even though the CO2 keeps on rising for several further centuries?â€?

    “When does it do that?”

    Couple of dozen times every glacial period – have you read the preceding? It is not I who finds the 600-800 year average lag – it’s the climatologists. The CO2 is after the temperature change, rise and fall.

    “This compares with about 2 degrees of global warming caused by the CO2 (with short term feedbacks) released during deglaciation.”

    It’s an assertion. You need to find 2 degrees so you pull in CO2 even though it tracks temperature centuries later. I covered that before.

    Normally, Carbonsink, I might share your confidence in the experts but they make such ludicrous statements – of which plenty of examples above. There is no evidence in the Milankovic cycle for positive feedback from CO2. But I’ve said that.

    JQ, I didn’t suggest the Milankovic science was wrong, let alone obviously. If anyone does, it is the climatologists who say it is inadequate and cast about for CO2 positive feedback.

    I fear your last sentence is precisely my sentiment: you don’t understand feedback.

    And with that we revert to the usual way this topic is argued: ad hominem.

  17. Chris O’Neill
    July 23rd, 2007 at 21:23 | #17

    � �Why does the temperature fall even though the CO2 keeps on rising for several further centuries?�

    “When does it do that?�

    “Couple of dozen times every glacial period”

    Since the time scale you’re referring to is several centuries I expect that the CO2 rise is probably something less than 10 ppm so it would not be capable of producing more than 0.2 degrees rise in temperature on its own. This can easily be exceeded by Milankovitch-ice area feedback effect.

    “The CO2 is after the temperature change, rise and fall.”

    That should be “The CO2 is after a small fraction of the temperature change, rise and fall.”

    “You need to find 2 degrees so you pull in CO2 even though it tracks temperature centuries later.”

    You’re completely missing the point. The CO2 rise does not follow ALL of the temperature rise. The vast majority of the temperature rise occurs while the CO2 rises. Just because a small part of the temperature rise occurs before the CO2 rises is not proof that the CO2 rise does not cause any temperature rise.

    “There is no evidence in the Milankovic cycle for positive feedback from CO2. But I’ve said that.”

    Asserted it actually. I hope you don’t always adopt such a closed mind.

  18. Pepper
    July 23rd, 2007 at 22:28 | #18

    “Just because a small part of the temperature rise occurs before the CO2 rises is not proof that the CO2 rise does not cause any temperature rise.”

    No, Chris, it doesn’t. It certainly doesn’t. Tell me: what “science” is this which would supply “proof”?

    Just because no one’s seen a china teapot orbiting the sun doesn’t prove there isn’t one. There’s no “proof” – the teapot could be there.

    But there’s no evidence of it, is there? Get it?

    “You’re completely missing the point… [you have] a closed mind.” Now that’s better! That’s the way to get at the truth and to persuade!

  19. Chris O’Neill
    July 24th, 2007 at 02:33 | #19

    “what “scienceâ€? is this which would supply “proofâ€??”

    that the CO2 rise does not cause any temperature rise?

    Pretty simple really. Just show me a time when the CO2 rises while all other variables stay the same, and the temperature does not rise. There’s a wealth of data available so it should be apparent somewhere (if it’s true).

    As to proving that the CO2 rise actually produced temperature rise just from paleoclimatology (ignoring all the other evidence), I explained earlier how the line of argument goes but you ignored this.

    “That’s the way to get at the truth and to persuade!”

    Can just stick to bald assertions.

  20. mugwump
    July 24th, 2007 at 04:20 | #20

    And of course, positive feedbacks (via water vapour) make our current problems worse.

    And of course, the negative feedbacks (via water vapour) make our current problems better.

    The dirty little secret of climate modeling: water vapour can have both positive and negative temperature feedbacks. Eg, low clouds tend to have a negative feedback (their albedo is greater than their greenhouse effect). High cirrus cloud is less well understood: it may have positive or negative effect.

    Climate models do a very poor job on clouds. So what’s the Earth’s true climate sensitivity (equilibrium delta-T on a doubling of CO2) you ask? Answer: pick the cloud model that gives you the answer you want.

  21. jquiggin
    July 24th, 2007 at 06:51 | #21

    “Answer: pick the cloud model that gives you the answer you want.”

    Or, alternatively, one that fits the data, in and out of sample. Climate modellers who incorporated positive feedbacks correctly predicted the warming of the past 20 years, sceptics (the term was appropriate at the time) did not. At this point, genuine sceptics revised their position.

    The last serious attempt to claim a negative feedback was Lindzen’s adaptive iris idea which he seems to have quietly abandoned.

  22. mugwump
    July 24th, 2007 at 08:44 | #22

    Honest climate modelers predicted a wide range of warming 20 years ago, based on large uncertainties in the models. That one of those scenarios possibly turned out to be true (I say “possibly” because the temperature record itself is now being called into question) doesn’t prove much, since anything from little or no warming at all to very rapid temperature increase can be obtained from the models by varying their parameters (and structure) within plausible ranges.

    Or to put it in the Bayesian language of a recent thread: a sample size of 1 trajectory does not substantially concentrate the posterior distribution over model parameters and structures.

    As far as uncertainties in cirrus cloud models are concerned, NASA Ames is a good place to start.

  23. jquiggin
    July 24th, 2007 at 22:16 | #23

    This claim leaves you incapable of learning from empirical evidence, which I suppose is what delusionism is all about.

    As regards “I say “possiblyâ€? because the temperature record itself is now being called into question”, this is where I sign off. This is one issue that not even the most delusion-sympathetic of legitimate climate scientists bothers to argue any more, and yet it’s being raised again.

    Since the public debate has been comprehensively won, there’s no need for me to debate this any more. From now on, I’ll adhere to my earlier, better judgement and not do so.

  24. mugwump
    July 24th, 2007 at 22:57 | #24

    This claim leaves you incapable of learning from empirical evidence

    If I am wrong all who apply Bayesian inference are wrong. Poorly understood models have many free parameters which naturally require greater evidence to constrain. Check out climateprediction.net: it is not yet clear how much evidence is required to constrain the climate models.

    In contrast, take something like General Relativity. It has one free parameter, the gravitational constant G (well, two if you count the cosmological constant lambda, but that was added later), and was confirmed by two experiments: the precession of the perihelion of mercury (already a known problem with Newtonian gravitation at the time), and gravitational lensing.

    I too am surprised by the temperature record issues; the data fiddling that goes on is really quite disgraceful. However, it is not yet clear that the manual adjustments affect the overall conclusion (increase in global mean T) , hence why I only say “possibly”.

    As far as I know the manual adjustments to the temperature record have not previously been audited, so I don’t know why you claim “not even the most delusion-sympathetic of legitimate climate scientists bothers to argue any more”.

    Since the public debate has been comprehensively won, there’s no need for me to debate this any more.

    Fair enough: you’re only interested in winning the public debate. No matter that you comprehensively lost this scientific debate.

  25. Chris O’Neill
    July 25th, 2007 at 00:27 | #25

    “water vapour can have both positive and negative temperature feedbacks”

    Now there’s an up-to-date issue.

    Water vapour itself has a positive feedback. Clouds can have a positive or negative feedback.

    “So what’s the Earth’s true climate sensitivity? Answer: pick the cloud model that gives you the answer you want.”

    Or pick the last glacial maximum that gives the answer you want. Hmm, not much choice when there’s only one to choose from.

  26. mugwump
    July 25th, 2007 at 01:21 | #26

    Water vapour itself has a positive feedback. Clouds can have a positive or negative feedback.

    And clouds are made from water vapour. Your point?

    Or pick the last glacial maximum that gives the answer you want.

    Ah, that would explain why there is no variance in climate sensitivity estimates. Not.

  27. Chris O’Neill
    July 25th, 2007 at 01:54 | #27

    “And clouds are made from water vapour”

    Water vapour always has positive feedback. Water vapour may or may not produce clouds. Clouds may produce positive feedback, they may produce negative feedback. Net result: varying between a lot of positive feedback and not much feedback.

    “there is no variance in climate sensitivity estimates”

    Or we could just assume we’re lucky and we’ve scored the 15% chance that sensitivity is less than 2.2 degrees C/CO2 doubling. You’ve got to ask yourself, do you feel lucky, well do ya?

  28. jquiggin
    July 25th, 2007 at 08:36 | #28

    The scientific debate (on the central issue of the reality of AGW) has been over for some time. The public debate has also finished, in Australia at any rate. What’s left is the hardcore of committed delusionists, almost all of whom base their beliefs/claims on wishful thinking derived from rightwing ideology.

    Chris is obviously prepared to keep on educating. From my viewpoint though, the obvious prevalence of delusionism on the political right is now an asset, and there’s no reason to run it down.

  29. mugwump
    July 25th, 2007 at 09:59 | #29

    My 3 y.o can come up with more convincing face saving excuses than that, JQ.

    I am not arguing against the reality of AGW. My argument is with the distortions used to manipulate public opinion and with the details: what is the sensitivity? What is the natural variation? How accurately are we measuring T? What are the consequences?

    And Chris is not educating, he is conceding the original point: water vapour (in its many forms) can have both positive and negative feedbacks, with the negative feedbacks from clouds particularly poorly understood. And 15% prob of sensitivity less than 2.2C? That we can be so certain.

  30. July 25th, 2007 at 10:21 | #30

    ProfQ: Agreed. The denialists (sorry delusionists) are descending into farce now. One only had to witness the audience questions after “swindle” was aired on the ABC to see the damage they’re doing to their cause.

    IMO, the fossil fuel lobby is running a cleverer strategy by accepting the science but claiming that only fossil fuels (cleaned up with CCS) can solve the problem.

  31. Chris O’Neill
    July 26th, 2007 at 11:21 | #31

    “water vapour (in its many forms) can have both positive and negative feedbacks”

    It’s highly misleading to state it that way. The positive feedbacks are way stronger than the negative feedbacks. A statement like the above creates the false impression in an unknowledgeable reader that the positive and negative feedbacks are comparable.

    “negative feedbacks from clouds particularly poorly understood”

    They don’t have to be particularly well understood to know that that the positive feedback is much stronger than the negative feedback.

    “And 15% prob of sensitivity less than 2.2C? That we can be so certain.”

    No one said there is zero uncertainty in the 15% figure. You can refer to Annann’s paper if you want to know the uncertainty of the uncertainty. Yet mugwump appears to think it could be somewhere near 100%. (Why do I keep thinking I am being fed hypocrisy by mugwump?) It’s pretty obvious who is using distortions to manipulate public opinion. It’s the same people who say they want to argue the details but for some reason they never manage to argue the details with people who work (in their jobs) on the details and who regularly publish papers on the details.

  32. mugwump
    July 26th, 2007 at 14:30 | #32

    It’s highly misleading to state it that way. The positive feedbacks are way stronger than the negative feedbacks.

    Clouds are responsible for approximately half of the Earth’s albedo. That’s a large, poorly understood “negative feedback”. Are you confident the GCMs model cloud formation sufficiently well to determine that albedo changes are negligible?

    Even without natural albedo increases, at least some scientists think it might be possible to artificially boost cloud albedo enough to mitigate the effects of increased CO2.

    No one said there is zero uncertainty in the 15% figure. You can refer to Annann’s paper if you want to know the uncertainty of the uncertainty. Yet mugwump appears to think it could be somewhere near 100%.

    Why don’t you tell me what Annann thinks is the uncertainty of the uncertainty? I suspect the true uncertainty of the uncertainty is closer to 100% than 0%, mainly because there still seem to be a lot of unknown unknowns.

  33. Chris O’Neill
    July 28th, 2007 at 14:20 | #33

    “Clouds are responsible for approximately half of the Earth’s albedo.”

    Again, a highly misleading statement. The issue is the change, not the starting value. Check this page to see estimates of the various types of feebacks. Even if you doubled the biggest cloud negative feedback (short wave cloud optical properties) and made the brave assumption that the related cloud positive feedbacks (long wave cloud optical properties, short wave cloud fraction) did not increase, the total cloud feedback would still be positive. And that’s without even considering the other positive feedbacks.

    “at least some scientists think it might be possible to artificially boost cloud albedo enough to mitigate the effects of increased CO2″

    “scientists”. Hmm, I guess a few scientists might present papers at an energy engineers conference but I can’t be bothered looking for them.

    “I suspect the true uncertainty of the uncertainty is closer to 100% than 0%”

    OK, you suspect the probability of sensitivity less than 2.2C might be 30%. Waiting for you to pull the trigger on the 10 bullet gun loaded with 7 bullets.

  34. mugwump
    July 29th, 2007 at 06:12 | #34

    “Clouds are responsible for approximately half of the Earth’s albedo.�
    Again, a highly misleading statement. The issue is the change, not the starting value.

    It may have been a misleading statement if I hadn’t followed up with:

    “Are you confident the GCMs model cloud formation sufficiently well to determine that albedo changes are negligible?”

    You then refer me to a web page that discusses GCM cloud models in great detail, but with no empirical comparison against real cloud formation (unless I missed something). While interesting, it does not constitute a validation of the cloud models.

    Hmm, I guess a few scientists might present papers at an energy engineers conference but I can’t be bothered looking for them.

    Uhuh. Just as you can’t be bothered reading what I write before claiming I am misleading.

  35. Chris O’Neill
    August 3rd, 2007 at 03:17 | #35

    “Are you confident the GCMs model cloud formation sufficiently well to determine that albedo changes are negligible?â€?”

    The thing that matters is the total feedback from clouds (and the total overall feedback), not just part of it. The total feedback from clouds predicted by GCMs ranges from neutral to strongly positive. In addition to this, water vapor plus lapse rate feedback is strongly postive. If you want to bet that every last GCM is completely wrong and that total cloud feedback is actually strongly negative go ahead. But in any case you are ignoring the estimate of sensitivity derived from 3 observations: (1) 20th century warming; (2) volcanic cooing; and (3) the last glacial maximum. If you want to pull the trigger on that 10 bullet gun loaded with 7 bullets then go ahead, I’m waiting. Maybe you could even be bothered to read a scientific paper.

  36. mugwump
    August 7th, 2007 at 01:10 | #36

    The total feedback from clouds predicted by GCMs ranges from neutral to strongly positive.

    The fact that estimates of total cloud feedback have such a broad range indicates the models are still very poorly understood, which is exactly my point.

    On (1) (20th century warming): Would that be Urban or Rural? Because the oft-quoted IPCC mantra that UHI is insignificant is looking highly suspect.

    And your 7-bullet analogy is off-the mark. By “100% uncertainty in the 15% uncertainty” I meant the 15% could be anything, not that it could be up to 30%.

    How many scientific papers should I read, Chris? A rough estimate puts the total so far at around 1500.

  37. Chris O’Neill
    August 8th, 2007 at 01:52 | #37

    “The fact that estimates of total cloud feedback have such a broad range indicates the models are still very poorly understood”

    It means the phenomenon is not very accurately understood but doesn’t change the result that the overall feedback is at least strongly positive.

    “On (1) (20th century warming): Would that be Urban or Rural?”

    Rural over land. Sea surface temperature over ocean (70% of earth’s surface). Could use satellite figures as well.

    “Because the oft-quoted IPCC mantra that UHI is insignificant is looking highly suspect.”

    What IPCC statement are you referring to? BTW, speaking of McIntyre, did you ever work out how, in spite of being a “lousy proxy�, the Bristlecone-dependent proxy network (i.e. the “1400″ network) gives very good agreement with more extensive networks that don’t go back as far into the past. McIntyre tried to argue at one point that the Bristlecone series is no good because there is a well-understood CO2-growth bias in the last 200 years but gave up and jumped to another argument. Whenever pursued, his arguments get dropped and a new one is thrown up.

    Also BTW, the significance of the hockeystick graph is not that it’s evidence for AGW. Its significance relates to how substantial AGW is compared with natural variation. If natural variation was much larger than AGW, AGW would be insignificant.

    “And your 7-bullet analogy is off-the mark.”

    Why don’t you read the paper and find out and repeat your opinion to James Annann.

    “How many scientific papers should I read?”

    The one that matters.

  38. mugwump
    August 8th, 2007 at 02:46 | #38

    This is getting tedious.

    You say:

    The total feedback from clouds predicted by GCMs ranges from neutral to strongly positive.

    Then you say:

    the overall feedback is at least strongly positive.

    Which is it? “Neutral to strongly positive” or “at least strongly positive”?

    What IPCC statement are you referring to?

    IPCC draft AR4, chapter 3, page 10, line 23:

    rural station trends were almost indistinguishable from series including urban sites (Peterson, 2003)

    Read the whole paragraph. Utter fiction in light of McIntyre’s recent reanalysis.

    BTW, speaking of McIntyre, did you ever work out how, in spite of being a “lousy proxy�, the Bristlecone-dependent proxy network (i.e. the “1400″ network) gives very good agreement with more extensive networks that don’t go back as far into the past

    Specific reference please.

    Also BTW, the significance of the hockeystick graph is not that it’s evidence for AGW. Its significance relates to how substantial AGW is compared with natural variation. If natural variation was much larger than AGW, AGW would be insignificant.

    I agree, and I have said as much at least once on this blog.

    Why don’t you read the paper and find out and repeat your opinion to James Annann.

    I’ve read the paper. It’s an ok paper, but does read like Annan just discovered Bayesian Statistics and got all excited applying it to GCM predictions. His estimates are still only as good as the models and the underlying data.

  39. Chris O’Neill
    August 16th, 2007 at 20:37 | #39

    “”the overall feedback is at least strongly positive.”"

    “Which is it? “Neutral to strongly positiveâ€? or “at least strongly positiveâ€??”

    Overall means all the feedbacks, not just cloud feedbacks.

    “”“Because the oft-quoted IPCC mantra that UHI is insignificantâ€?”"

    “”What IPCC statement are you referring to?”"

    “IPCC draft AR4, chapter 3, page 10, line 23:”

    “”rural station trends were almost indistinguishable from series including urban sites (Peterson, 2003)”"

    That’s interesting, although GISS don’t use urban sites anyway for calculating long term trend.

    “is looking highly suspect. Utter fiction in light of McIntyre’s recent reanalysis.”

    Sure, if you and McIntyre say so. BTW, “urban sites” does not mean the same as “all urban sites”.

    “”BTW, speaking of McIntyre, did you ever work out how, in spite of being a “lousy proxyâ€?, the Bristlecone-dependent proxy network (i.e. the “1400″ network) gives very good agreement with more extensive networks that don’t go back as far into the past”"

    “Specific reference please.”

    http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2007/07/12/delusionists-demolished#comment-192638

    “”Why don’t you read the paper and find out and repeat your opinion to James Annann.”"

    “I’ve read the paper. It’s an ok paper, but does read like Annan just discovered Bayesian Statistics and got all excited applying it to GCM predictions.”

    Are you sure you read the paper? You seem to have an obsession with GCM predictions. Annann did not use GCM predictions to calculate his sensitivity estimate.

    “His estimates are still only as good as the models and the underlying data.”

    As I said, he didn’t use the GCMs for his estimate. As for depending on underlying data, well, that’s the problem with science isn’t it?

  40. mugwump
    August 16th, 2007 at 21:53 | #40

    So UHI is not a problem until it is, then it doesn’t matter.

    The hockeystick was correct until it wasn’t, then it didn’t matter.

    The surface temperature record was correct until it wasn’t, but now it doesn’t matter either.

    A blog comment link is not a scientific reference.

    Annan used climate models for his estimates. Reread the paper, Chris.

  41. Chris O’Neill
    August 17th, 2007 at 13:37 | #41

    “So UHI is not a problem until it is, then it doesn’t matter.”

    More like, we can leave out the UHIs until we know they don’t matter.

    “The hockeystick was correct until it wasn’t, then it didn’t matter.”

    More like, the hockstick was and is correct but for some insignificant errors and has been repeatedly confirmed. It still matters.

    “The surface temperature record was correct until it wasn’t,”

    More like, one calculation of the surface temperature record was accurate enough and is still accurate enough.

    “but now it doesn’t matter either.”

    More like single years don’t matter and never did and the US is not very significant and never was.

    “A blog comment link is not a scientific reference.”

    A blog comment shows when another blog commenter disappears from an argument and that the disappearer has zero substance by not responding to arguments that included scientific references.

    “Annan used climate models for his estimates.”

    As in, some of his estimates. Here’s a hint, Annann said in the introduction, “Recently, there has been an increasing focus on the potential of observationally-derived constraints to generate a more objective estimate of climate sensitivity.” Gee I wonder where he might go with a statement like that.

  42. mugwump
    August 17th, 2007 at 23:26 | #42

    “More like, we can leave out the UHIs until we know they don’t matter.”

    Chris, the IPCC claimed no significant difference in warming trends between urban and rural. That is turning out to be false. That matters, especially as a lot of the numbers used to estimate the surface temperature are partially contaminated with urban trends.

    “More like, the hockstick was and is correct but for some insignificant errors and has been repeatedly confirmed. It still matters.”

    One of those supposedly insignificant errors is the claim that the MWP was not a global phenomenon. Turns out the hockeystick does not establish that, precisely because Mann and his cohorts are lousy statisticians. That’s significant.

    “More like single years don’t matter and never did and the US is not very significant and never was.”

    It is more than single years in the US. The overall adjustment is negative – so warming has been far less pronounced there than previously thought. Politically, the unending mantra from the climatologists that we’re setting near-record after near-record in the US is also now false. That an error of such magnitude could slip through is also significant. As are the denials from the pontiff and his cardinals, and their continued refusal to release their source code.

    “A blog comment shows when another blog commenter disappears from an argument and that the disappearer has zero substance by not responding to arguments that included scientific references.”

    Just give me the scientific references Chris. Chapter and verse. The same courtesy I extended to you when pointing out false claims by the IPCC, and standard academic practice.

    “As in, some of his estimates. Here’s a hint, Annann said in the introduction,”

    So you’ve read Annan’s introduction. Now read the rest of the paper. If you get stuck with some of the symbols, give me a hoi and I’ll see if I can help you out.

  43. Chris O’Neill
    August 18th, 2007 at 17:53 | #43

    “the IPCC claimed no significant difference in warming trends between urban and rural.”

    Papers they referred to actually.

    “That is turning out to be false.”

    Sure it is. Don’t trust McIntyre to get every detail right. He has been known to be wrong before.

    “That matters, especially as a lot of the numbers used to estimate the surface temperature are partially contaminated with urban trends.”

    “A lot”, as in who?

    “One of those supposedly insignificant errors is the claim that the MWP was not a global phenomenon.”

    Funny, I don’t see any mention of MWP in their supplementary information.

    “Turns out the hockeystick does not establish that, precisely because Mann and his cohorts are lousy statisticians.”

    Sure, if McIntyre says so. Why not just say the claim that the MWP is not global is false because Mann and his cohorts are lousy statisticians? The spuriousness of your argument would be clearer.

    “It is more than single years in the US.”

    You’ll forgive me for being distracted by all the crap about which year was the warmest in the US.

    “the unending mantra from the climatologists that we’re setting near-record after near-record in the US is also now false.”

    Where do you get this trash from mugwump? If I were you I’d seriously be questioning my sources. The words the NCDC uses are: “placed 1998 in a virtural tie with 1934 as the warmest year” and “2006 was the 2nd warmest year on record and nearly identical to the record set in 1998″. Where is the false statement?

    “That an error of such magnitude could slip through is also significant.” Stitching together long term records through changes in technique is an ongoing issue. Normally such changes attract a lot of attention but obviously they don’t get publicised sometimes. Like any process for establishing reliability, single points of failure are avoided in determining a temperature record, i.e. we don’t don’t go by just one record.

    “Just give me the scientific references”

    As if you’re in the habit of doing such. You could provide scientific references for your assertions I’ve copied below. Since you’re too lazy to look up what I referred to, I’ll have to repeat it here. From delusionists demoished:

    Start of quote.

    This is an old argument, but..

    mugwump: “The problem is, Mann’s hockeystick is not robust to removal of the Bristlecone series..�

    Actually, it is robust to the removal of the Bristlecone series as far back as 1450 (to 1428 if you want to do some more calculations). Indeed MBH99 freely admits that the hockeystick is not robust to removing this series before 1400.

    “and it turns out the Bristlecones are actually lousy temperature proxies.�

    According to Steve McIntyre. But somehow, in spite of being a “lousy proxy�, the Bristlecone-dependent proxy network (i.e. the “1400″ network) gives very good agreement with more extensive networks that don’t go back as far into the past. McIntyre tried to argue at one point that the Bristlecone series is no good because there is a well-understood CO2-growth bias in the last 200 years but gave up and jumped to another argument. Whenever pursued, his arguments get dropped and a new one is thrown up.

    “As for McIntyre’s credibility: call me old-fashioned, but for me it stands on the quality of his work.�

    Good joke. Love the irony.

    “Read his papers.�

    Have.

    “Read his blog.�

    Have.

    “He is very good at what he does.�

    Sure, if you say so.

    End of quote.

    “The same courtesy I extended to you when pointing out false claims by the IPCC”

    The courtesy didn’t extend to any scientific reference pointing out why claims by the IPCC were false, just some messing around by McIntyre.

    “So you’ve read Annan’s introduction.”

    Pity you can’t take the hint. That’s the problem when your credulousness interferes with your cognitive skill. Anyway, Annann says “By construction, our prior based on 20th century warming, and the two likelihood functions, are based on independent data and methods. We can therefore combine their information simply by multiplying all the functions together and renormalising.” The “two likelihood functions” referred to are from volcaic cooling and from the last glacial maximum. He also refers to these three in his figure 1: “Red solid line: combination of the three constraints” immediately after “Blue dashed line: 20th century warming (1,3,10). Blue dotted line: volcanic cooling (1.5,3,6). Blue dot-dashed line: LGM cooling (-0.6,2.7,6.1).”

  44. mugwump
    August 18th, 2007 at 20:58 | #44

    On Annan, reading back over the thread I said:

    His estimates are still only as good as the models and the underlying data.

    [because he uses both]

    You said:

    As I said, he didn’t use the GCMs for his estimate.

    To which I responded:

    Annan used climate models for his estimates.

    To which you responded:

    As in, some of his estimates.

    Which is what I meant. I missed that.

    Putting that to rest, there’s nothing left to argue over here, you’ve conceded all my points. Over-and-out.

  45. Chris O’Neill
    August 19th, 2007 at 12:35 | #45

    “On Annan, reading back over the thread I said:

    His estimates are still only as good as the models and the underlying data.

    [because he uses both]”

    You must have missed the point where I said:

    “But in any case you are ignoring the estimate of sensitivity derived from 3 observations: (1) 20th century warming; (2) volcanic cooing; and (3) the last glacial maximum.”

    I didn’t notice any meantion of CGMs in the estimate I was referring to. Please try to stick to the point.

    (spurious crap deleted)

    “Putting that to rest, there’s nothing left to argue over here, you’ve conceded all my points. Over-and-out.”

    The American-solution-in-Vietnam technique, declare victory and get out.

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