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What I’ve been reading

July 8th, 2008

Climate Code Red by David Spratt and Philip Sutton (more details here). This is a book that will doubtless be welcomed by those with a sceptical attitude towards the mainstream discussion represented by the IPCC, and makes many points that will be familiar from debates here – there’s more uncertainty in the IPCC models than is commonly recognised, important factors have been omitted, the intergovernmental process is subject to political constraints, emissions projections are problematic and so on. On a first reading, Spratt and Sutton make a pretty convincing case that the apparent scientific consensus position is well off the mark.

Of course, as the title suggests, Spratt and Sutton are arguing that both the likely rate and the likely consequences of global warming have been underestimated and that the measures being proposed by Stern, Garnaut and others are not nearly radical enough.

You don’t need to be fully convinced by Spratt and Sutton to realise an obvious point, particularly relevant for sceptics. Uncertainty about the IPCC position implies that the mainstream best estimate might be either too high or too low. This doesn’t support a case for inaction. In any reasonable estimate of expected costs and benefits, the risk that the IPCC estimates are too low and that we will experience catastrophic damage far outweighs the risk that we are too high and that money spent on mitigation will be wasted.

So, in another round of the great terminological debate, I’m willing to use the term “sceptic” to describe anyone who thinks that the IPCC has underestimated the range of uncertainty, and therefore advocates more radical action than is currently being proposed.

Coming back to the book, here are some quick points.

Exhibit #1 in the case for underestimation has been the rapid decline in ice cover in the Arctic. Spratt and Sutton, drawing on recent work by James Hansen and others suggest that the point at which the ice cap melts completely in summer (meaning, obviously that no ice more than a year old will remain) is only five years away. They propose a set of emergency measures aimed at stopping this happening.

Sad to say, while I’m a moderate optimist about action on climate change, I can’t see any possibility of an emergency response being adopted in time to prevent the melting of the Arctic ice cap, assuming that recent trends continue. A more reasonable hope is that the sight of open water at the North Pole will finally convince policymakers and the large section of the public who are still doubtful that we need urgent action.
(We can safely predict that some commentators will remain deluded even faced with such stark evidence. The UK Telegraph has already run the line that “[In the Middle Ages] There was little ice at the North Pole: a Chinese naval squadron sailed right round the Arctic in 1421 and found none.”)

And while Spratt and Sutton make good use of the rhetoric of emergency, their proposals are, in large measure, a beefed-up version of the standard. They suggest individual allowances for carbon. This would certainly dramatise the issue but, since the proposed allowances are tradeable, the practical implications would be the same as those of auctioning permits and return all the proceeds to the public through a universal fixed payment or demogrant. A rather more radical proposal is the suggestion of geo-engineering for aerosols, aimed at removing those (black soot) that enhance the greenhouse effect, while leaving alone, or even increasing concentrations of those that work the other way.

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  1. Tony G
    July 8th, 2008 at 22:38 | #1

    “I’m willing to use the term “scepticâ€? to describe anyone who thinks that the IPCC has underestimated the range of uncertainty,”

    Do you mean the pendulum of uncertainty about the weather can range this far?

    i.e. we are in a new ice age.

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23583376-7583,00.html

  2. Tony G
    July 8th, 2008 at 22:49 | #2

    “Unless there are some climate scientists here, there is nothing more to say. The rest of you are just talking out of your respective ar*es.”

    Phil Chapman is a geophysicist i.e.
    the branch of geology that deals with the physics of the earth and its atmosphere, including oceanography, seismology, volcanology, and geomagnetism.

    Is he talking talking out of his respective ar*e.”

    Or is he just a comedian?

  3. Ian Gould
    July 8th, 2008 at 22:52 | #3

    Funny isn’t it how the same people who call mainstream climate scientists “alarmists” happily propound disaster fantasies about an imminent ice age?

  4. Tony G
    July 8th, 2008 at 22:54 | #4

    Unless there are some climate scientists here, there is nothing more to say.

  5. jquiggin
    July 9th, 2008 at 06:52 | #5

    Tony, it’s pretty clear from Chapman’s Wikipedia bio that he’s a geophysicist in much the same sense as I’m a mathematician. He has a bachelor’s degree and worked in the field (in Antarctica!) for a year or so in the 1950s. Since then he’s done a bunch of interesting things, none of which include research on climatology.

    Coming back to the point of the article on which you’re commenting, if you’re willing to place any weight on this kind of thing, you should equally be willing to place weight on speculation that we are at the edge of a runaway greenhouse effect.

    Finally, on the subject of authority, I get my general information on this subject from leading scientific bodies and scientific journals and regularly check specific points with individual climate scientists (some of whom comment on this blog). It appears you get yours from the least reliable sections of the popular press. I’d say there is only one person here blowing smoke.

  6. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    July 9th, 2008 at 08:50 | #6

    You don’t need to be fully convinced by Spratt and Sutton to realise an obvious point, particularly relevant for sceptics. Uncertainty about the IPCC position implies that the mainstream best estimate might be either too high or too low. This doesn’t support a case for inaction.

    Yeah well I might just as readily say that people disagree about the benefits of tax cuts however that does not support a case for inaction. Lets try less expensive, less invasive government for a year or two. ;-)

    In terms of climate change we actually have a lot of action happening at the moment. We have MRET, we have carbon taxes in several countries ($150 per tonne in Sweden) we have McCain offering $300 million for a better battery and scientists and engineers and entrepreuneurs everywhere working on new technologies. We even have our own ABC kids website suggesting that kids kill themselves if their carbon footprint is too high (Google Planet Slayer). If we had no further action that would not amount to “in-action”.

  7. wilful
    July 9th, 2008 at 10:25 | #7

    While we’re talking about erros in models, could we get a fisking of William Kininmoth’s most recent contribution: http://business.theage.com.au/why-so-much-climate-change-talk-is-hot-air-20080707-34iz.html

    Particularly this bit (which lost me):
    Underestimation of precipitation and evaporation increase in the computer models has even more far-reaching ramifications for the veracity of global temperature projections. Evaporation is crucial for regulating surface temperature because evaporation takes latent heat from the surface — the more evaporation then, the cooler the surface temperature.

    An increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide enhances the greenhouse effect through the increase in back radiation at the surface. In response to this additional energy, there is a rise in surface temperature until the increasing energy loss from the surface (the sum of the surface radiation and evaporation of latent energy) balance the increase in back radiation. Clearly, underestimation of evaporation of latent energy must be offset by an additional increase in surface radiation that requires a higher surface temperature; the incremental increase of surface temperature must be anomalously high to achieve a new energy balance.

    Of more significance is the effect of underestimation of increase in surface latent energy on the internal feedback processes that amplify the direct forcing from carbon dioxide. The incremental increase in surface temperature also raises the temperature of the lower atmosphere and the concentration of water vapour, itself a powerful greenhouse gas.

    The back radiation caused by the increased temperature and water vapour of the atmosphere causes a further incremental increase in surface temperature, a positive feedback.

    The mathematics of feedback processes follows a standard formulation and the amplification is related to the ratio of the rate of increase of back radiation with temperature to the rate of increase of surface energy loss with temperature. As long as the ratio is less than unity the feedback is stable. Correct specification of the evaporation component restricts the ratio to less than 0.5 and the amplification factor to less than two.

    Overall, the global surface temperature increase from a doubling of carbon dioxide concentration will be restricted to about 0.5 degrees.

    Underestimation of the evaporation increase, as in the current computer models, will lead to an anomalously high amplification factor. The reported error leads to amplification factors ranging from three to more than four, and to temperature sensitivities from doubling carbon dioxide being as large as 2.5 degrees. The latter is of the same order of magnitude as reported by IPCC.

  8. wizofaus
    July 9th, 2008 at 10:28 | #8

    Of course, if our primary goal as a species was to eliminate poverty, disaease and dangerous climate change this century, the cheapest and most reliable solution is surely mass sterilisation.

    Sadly it wouldn’t surprise me if we do keep putting off the palatable options as long as possible, ultimately we’ll have no choice but to put up with draconian ones.

  9. wilful
    July 9th, 2008 at 11:11 | #9
  10. July 9th, 2008 at 11:20 | #10

    wiz,
    If you are volunteering I am sure I can find a knife.

  11. Paul Norton
    July 9th, 2008 at 11:35 | #11

    The quoted text from Kinninmonth is utterly self-contradictory. Perhaps the Business section editor edited the original article down in a way which unskilfully deleted key links in the chain of logic. Or perhaps there are other explanations which are less exculpatory of Kinninmonth.

  12. wizofaus
    July 9th, 2008 at 12:28 | #12

    I’d be surprised if knives were the cheapest way to achieve mass sterilisation. Something in the water supply would presumably do better.

    But we could start by actually charging people to have babies rather than paying them to.

  13. MontyA
    July 9th, 2008 at 12:54 | #13

    Call me a sceptic. I downloaded a draft of Climate Code Red some weeks ago. In part it provided a reasonably comprehensive list of observable changes; such as melting ice, changed rainfall patterns, etc; that can be attributed to a warming earth. These changes, occurring at lower temperature thresholds and much sooner than predicted by the IPCC, do not bode well for the future.

    If AGW was isolated from all other problems and the IPCC tipping points for catastrophic change were correct I would still be sceptical that the political will could be mustered in time to stop it. If we factor in all the other problems humans have created and an economic system that among other failings ignores the finiteness of the Earth’s resources runaway warming seems certain.

    Tony G, the science is indisputable that AGW’s absorb infrared radiation that would otherwise be radiated back into space. This causes the earth to heat until a new energy balance is reached or other mechanisms that reflect or radiate an equivalent amount of energy into space come into play fast enough to prevent any significant warming. The full warming effects of the additional AGs takes about 50 years as the oceans absorb very large amounts of energy for a very small rise in temperature, thereby slowing the rise in atmospheric temperatures until the new temperature balance is reached.

    None of the sources you quote or link to disprove the science of AGW warming or offer any credible compensatory mechanisms that offset the warming effects. If you had the ability and the education you would understand that it is the climate scientists, not your flim-flam sources, who have done the hard research. Other possible causes of warming such as changes in solar irradiation, cloud cover, aerosols and particulates, and even cosmic radiation do not discredit AGW, they are additional. One needs to prove compensatory cooling mechanisms to do that.

    You have amply demonstrated on many occasions, that other than a profound ability to misunderstand statistics, you have nothing meaningful to contribute on the topic of AGW. You know the adage about a fool keeping his mouth shut. Too late for that but at least keep your promise and say nothing more.

  14. Ken Miles
    July 9th, 2008 at 13:17 | #14

    Wilful, Kininmoth should present his research in a scientific journal not The Age. If he really has discovered what he thinks he has, then it is certainly worth publishing.

    I don’t intend to go through his argument in detail as he doesn’t really spell it out. So far it is very heavy on the assertions.

    If you read the Science paper on which he bases his research, then don’t say anything along the same lines as him. Rather they speculate that if the trends continue then the changes in precipitation will have a much bigger impact on the world.

    I suspect that he has become mixed up on his thermodynamics, if (and it’s a big if, because he hasn’t mentioned that caveats contained in the Science paper which he uses as a starting point) the rate of evaporation (but not total atmospheric water content) has been significantly underestimated by GCM’s then it isn’t particularly spectacular (wrt to the overall warming trend) as the energy required to evaporate the water is compensated for by the energy released when the water is removed by precipitation.

    But to re-emphasise my main point, Kininmoth should try publishing in a scientific journal where his claims will be read by an audience equipped to assess them before he publishes in a newspaper where the vast majority of the readers will not have the skills required to make an accurate judgement on them.

  15. Ken Miles
    July 9th, 2008 at 13:25 | #15

    Tony,

    Chapman’s contribution to the public understanding of global warming has been jaw droppingly bad.

    The guy can’t calculate a trend, but his whole argument is based around trends. He doesn’t know even the basics of glacial timings, yet once again, this is central to his arguement. Plus it appears that he is unaware of the causes of the previous glacial periods (variations in the earth’s orbital around the sun, rather than variations in the sun).

  16. wilful
    July 9th, 2008 at 13:26 | #16

    Kininmonth knows the game, and presumably has a reasonable publication record behind him. If what he says is true, it wouldn’t be hard to get published.

    Certainly it’s well over my head. And 99%+ of the readers of the Business Age, I suspect.

  17. Amfortas
    July 9th, 2008 at 14:07 | #17

    I am not a ‘climate scientist’ so if several here wish to think that I talk out of my backside, sobeit.

    Such ‘cimate scientists’ however, whatever orifice they use to speak from, need to convince we, the great unwashed and ignorant, and frankly they aren’t linguists or logicians enough to have done that.

    I bet half – no 9/10ths – of readers here would be hard pressed to name any 25 of the supposed 2500 climate scientists on the IPCC. They haven’t even communicated that very well.

    KRudd is convincable with ease. The poor little fella thinks that photos of naked children are evil. That’s without any discussion at all.

  18. Ken Miles
    July 9th, 2008 at 14:09 | #18

    Kininmonth knows the game, and presumably has a reasonable publication record behind him.

    I just did a Web of Science search for Kinimonth W. Here is the results:

    Title: Don’t be Gored into going along
    Author(s): Kininmonth W
    Source: POWER ENGINEER Volume: 20 Issue: 5 Pages: 48-48 Published: OCT-NOV 2006
    Times Cited: 0

  19. wilful
    July 9th, 2008 at 14:09 | #19

    when you say supposed, do you mean, supposedly there are 2500 of them, or supposedly they’re scientists?

  20. Ken Miles
    July 9th, 2008 at 14:12 | #20

    Doh, just realised that I should have searched for W*, not W.

    Here’s a better list:

    Title: Don’t be Gored into going along
    Author(s): Kininmonth W
    Source: POWER ENGINEER Volume: 20 Issue: 5 Pages: 48-48 Published: OCT-NOV 2006
    Times Cited: 0

    Title: EXTENDED RANGE NUMERICAL FORECAST RESULTS WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO AUSTRALIAN REGION
    Author(s): KININMON.WR, GAUNTLET.DJ, HINCKSMA.DR
    Source: BULLETIN OF THE AMERICAN METEOROLOGICAL SOCIETY Volume: 54 Issue: 10 Pages: 1079-1080 Published: 1973
    Times Cited: 0

    Title: WATER-BALANCE MODEL FOR RAIN-GROWN, LOWLAND RICE IN NORTHERN AUSTRALIA
    Author(s): CHAPMAN AL, KININMON.WR
    Source: AGRICULTURAL METEOROLOGY Volume: 10 Issue: 1-2 Pages: 65-& Published: 1972
    Times Cited: 10

    Title: PARAMETERIZATION OF HEAT EXCHANGE BETWEEN CONVECTIVE CLOUDS AND SYNOPTIC FLOW
    Author(s): KININMON.WR
    Source: BULLETIN OF THE AMERICAN METEOROLOGICAL SOCIETY Volume: 52 Issue: 7 Pages: 643-& Published: 1971
    Times Cited: 0

  21. wilful
    July 9th, 2008 at 14:54 | #21

    I would have thought that someone who headed the National Climate Centre for several years, and whose job is as science advisor to the Science and Public Policy Institute would have been, you know, a scientist, and kind of by definition someone with a publication record.

  22. wizofaus
    July 9th, 2008 at 15:09 | #22

    Well if Kininmoth is right saying ‘Overall, the global surface temperature increase from a doubling of carbon dioxide concentration will be restricted to about 0.5 degrees’, then what exactly is his explanation for the rest of the temperature rise over the last 100 years?

  23. July 9th, 2008 at 15:16 | #23

    Ken,
    Possibly a better (or at least more comprehensive) source is Google Scholar.

  24. John Mashey
    July 9th, 2008 at 16:00 | #24

    1) I’ve mentioned it before, but once again, the Dunning-kruger Effect is again well-represented.

    2) willful: I can’t comment on regarding SPPI, basically:

    - it’s Robert Ferguson, sort-of a wannabee Steven Milloy
    - with help from Viscount Christopher Monckton
    - and a bunch of well-known advisors, including William Kininmonth.

    In perusing SPPI’s pages, you will find numerous anti-AGW pieces, and can also discover that Mercury is a fine element.

    If for some reason, someone really wants to know mor about this organization with which Kininmonth associates … some may recall last year’s attempted attack on Naomi Oreskes by Ferguson, Monckton, and his endocrinologist Schulte, as documented in my
    40-page analysis, with amusing commentary, in which the Viscount appears, and seems to confirm the doctor-patient relationship.

    Page 40 of the document shows a matrix of organizations versus people, listing the SPPI advisors and the entities they advise. At that time, Kininmonth advised SPPI (US), and the Heartland Institute (US), and the Fraser Institute (Canada). {I couldn’t find any similar Australian of NZ entities that he advised, but if anyone knows of such, I’d be pleased to add them to my list.]

  25. Duscany
    July 9th, 2008 at 16:19 | #25

    There has been open water at the north pole on several occasions in the last 70 years. It’s nothing new and it’s not a disaster. The Northwest Passage was ice free as recently as WWII.

  26. Ken Miles
    July 9th, 2008 at 16:38 | #26

    Andrew, Web of Science certainly isn’t perfect but it does stick to peer reviewed journals, the problem with Google Scholar is that it includes a whole lot of rubbish, such as Energy and Environment and stuff published on websites, which certainly wouldn’t be considered as a reliable scientific source. Other citations are presumably reports and non-peer reviewed journals – which once again are a poor way of distributing original scientific research.

  27. Smiley
    July 9th, 2008 at 16:43 | #27

    I bet half – no 9/10ths – of readers here would be hard pressed to name any 25 of the supposed 2500 climate scientists on the IPCC.

    I think you’ll probably find that the ratio you quoted matches the ratio of the distribution of celebrity gossip literature to the scientific literature. I’m sure I could name thousands of celebrities, but only one or two scientist. But the fact that I cannot name them does not make their work any less important than the work of celebs or politicians.

  28. Ian Gould
    July 9th, 2008 at 17:01 | #28

    “I bet half – no 9/10ths – of readers here would be hard pressed to name any 25 of the supposed 2500 climate scientists on the IPCC. They haven’t even communicated that very well.”

    Other than Einstein and Hawking how many scientists of any sort from the century do you think the average person could name

  29. wilful
    July 9th, 2008 at 17:08 | #29

    Even with Google Scholar, that’s essentially no publications in decades, apart from a book in 2004 and some very mundane weather of Australia stuff.

  30. Ken Miles
    July 9th, 2008 at 17:13 | #30

    Having read some more of Kininmonth’s work (pdf) from Google Scholar, it is really quite surreal (sorry for going offtopic). He seems that he believes that scientists don’t understand the physics of atmosphere like he does. His description of it is as fellows:

    Both of these populist explanations contradict the well-established fact that, because of
    decrease of density and temperature with height, the greenhouse gases of the atmosphere emit
    more infrared radiation than they absorb. This is clear from the global energy budget of Kiehl
    and Trenberth8, as quoted in the IPCC’s Third Assessment Report (see Figure 1.2, p 90 and
    reproduced in Box 1). The heating of the atmospheric layer by absorption of solar radiation
    (67 W/m2) and absorption of infrared radiation (350 W/m2) are offset by emission of infrared
    emission back to the surface (324 W/m2) and to space (195 W/m2). The net loss of 102 W/m2
    represents an ongoing tendency for radiation processes associated with greenhouse gases to
    cool the atmosphere. Increasing the carbon dioxide concentration will not reverse this tendency for cooling of the atmosphere.

    This is very incomplete view of the atmospheric processes which warm the atmosphere. If this was true, the atmosphere would cool (until either it reduced the amount of energy it was emitting or increased the amount of energy it was absorbing). Kininmonth has neglected two other sources of heat to the atmosphere – thermal heat from the earth’s surface and heat released by precipitation. Both of these are very heavily influenced by the infrared emissions back to earth.

    If extra greenhouses gases are added to the earth, the amount of ir emissions from earth that the atmosphere absorbs would increase. Which causes heating. In order to reach thermal equilibrium (achieved when the energy in = the energy out), the atmosphere would start to emit more radiation (both back to earth and into space). The end result would be a warming of earth and lower atmosphere.

  31. MH
    July 9th, 2008 at 18:04 | #31

    Spratt and Sutton’s climate code red appears to be restatement of Mark Lynas’s “Six Degress”. I accept the predictive uncertainty even more so since a recent diversion into Mondelbrot’s fractal theory and Gussian Bell Curves and the math of probability theorem’s. The models are imperfect that in outcomes but there is a very strong correlation between the predictions so far and the observations much stronger than the ‘nothing new’ view and ‘we cannot say be because we cannot say’ the neocon version of which is Rumsfelds – unknown unknowns.

    Hansen puts the critical level for unstoppable climate change at 350 ppm of CO2, his current papers (see his website) put current levels at 385 to 389(So does NOAA). Suzuki and Lovelock have retired to enjoy their remaining years with nothing more to say.

    Now we have the G8 reaffirming their 1992 position to do something, while they play a game of chicken to see who will go first.

    Forget the politicians concentrate on your friends and neighbours, network vigorously to help them see what they are seeing is a new and dangerous reality, not an abstract polemic. Start adapting and planning for the changing climate you live in is the only advice I have to offer. The political process will fail again and fail fatally for all of us.

  32. jquiggin
    July 9th, 2008 at 22:07 | #32

    Shorter Amfortas: I not only know no science, I can’t be bothered listening to scientists so I can believe whatever is convenient to me

    To be clear, I’ve formed my views on the basis of careful reading of the scientific evidence, and meetings and discussions with lots of climate scientists including Graeme Pearman, Roger Jones, David Karoly, Bryson Bates, Ann Henderson Sellars, Amanda Lynch, William Connolley and James Annan. I’m utterly unimpressed by those who parade themselves as sceptics on the basis of a combination of ignorance and wishful thinking.

  33. Tony G
    July 9th, 2008 at 22:24 | #33

    I am sorry MontyA that this post will “have nothing meaningful to contribute on the topic of AGW”

    JQ:
    “none of which include research on climatology.”

    I did not say Chapman was a climatologist, but I think he would come in under the term “climate scientist” After all it is a pretty broad term and apparently the IPCC has found thousands of them.

    Also considering he does have a tertiary qualification from a once esteemed uni in a discipline that deals with the physics of the earth and its atmosphere, including oceanography, seismology, volcanology, and geomagnetism.

    In understanding global climate changes it might be necessary to combine many disciplines, including oceanography, meteorology, geomorphology, geology and paleoclimatology. As well as combining interdisciplinary studies, OBSERVATIONS AND MEASUREMENTS can be assembled over long time spans, using different MEASURING APPROACHES.

    Climate change proponents might find ‘rule of thumb’ inputs and measurements as being adequate for their purpose, after all they can “calculate a trend” together Ken and undoubtedly they already know the result, Apparently they see it as no benefit in a quest for answers on climate to hold as Chapman does in tandem with the above mentioned disciplines a “Doctorate of Science in Instrumentation” to help calibrate findings.

    Ken;
    “(variations in the earth’s orbital around the sun, rather than variations in the sun)”.

    Ken if they are guessing how much power the sun puts out what difference is distance going to make?
    “scientists have no choice but to make an approximated value for the power of the sun.”
    http://hypertextbook.com/facts/1999/MatthewTsang.shtml

    JQ;
    “on this kind of thing, you should equally be willing to place weight on speculation that we are at the edge of a runaway greenhouse effect.”

    I never said I wouldn’t “place weight on speculation”. Anything pertaining to the future is purely speculation, be it will it rain tomorrow, to will this current period of interglacial (glacial retreat) end with the poles being totally devoid of ice within the next few years, or has the next glacial period already started- we can only speculate and that is the AGW problem.

    I have never stated that AGW is not a possibility, in fact to the contrary I speculate it could very well be occurring,

    AGW dissenters like and including Chapman and Kininmonth, considering their backgrounds demonstrate there is credible disagreement among so called ‘experts’ to the point where people are “equally be willing to place weight” on other theories to the AGW one.

    Not many people can understand Einstein’s theories, yet not many people, including his peers question them after they saw evidence of the bomb going off. Maybe thats AGWs problem.

  34. July 10th, 2008 at 08:56 | #34
  35. wizofaus
    July 10th, 2008 at 09:41 | #35

    There’s just as much “credible disagreement among so called ‘experts’” on AGW as there is on just about any scientific theory you could name. It just happens that AGW dissenters are better funded.

  36. Smiley
    July 10th, 2008 at 12:34 | #36

    There has been open water at the north pole on several occasions in the last 70 years. It’s nothing new and it’s not a disaster. The Northwest Passage was ice free as recently as WWII.

    Yes, because the permanent loss of summer habitat for polar bears and seals doesn’t affect me. And the potential collapse of most fish species and an explosion in the jellyfish population as a result of the acidification of the oceans won’t affect me either.

  37. David
    July 10th, 2008 at 13:17 | #37

    I’m currently attempting to read the latest “Quadrant”. I couldn’t resist, with an article about the risks of climate catastrophism by some bloke from the Lavoisier Cult and another, entitled (with no discernable irony) “The Politicisation of Climate Change”. It’s a struggle, as it hasn’t got any more readable with the change of editor, but I think you’d be interested in the first article, Prof Q. The author reckons Garnaut’s proposal for an ETS is tantamount to tax farming, and the scheme will encourage rent-seekers in the financial industry. (Actually, I’m inclined to agree with that last bit – any scheme will attract spivs.)

  38. David
    July 10th, 2008 at 13:18 | #38

    I’m currently attempting to read the latest “Quadrant”. I couldn’t resist, with an article about the risks of climate catastrophism by some bloke from the Lavoisier Cult and another, entitled (with no discernable irony) “The Politicisation of Climate Change”. It’s a struggle, as it hasn’t got any more readable with the change of editor, but I think you’d be interested in the first article, Prof Q. The author reckons Garnaut’s proposal for an ETS is tantamount to tax farming, and the scheme will encourage rent-seekers in the financial industry. (Actually, I’m inclined to agree with that last bit – any scheme will attract spivs.)

    If it wasn’t so heart-breaking, it’d be funny.

  39. Peter Wood
    July 10th, 2008 at 14:18 | #39

    Here’s a study that adds more weight to what the authors of Climate Code Red are saying. A June 13 paper in geophysical research letters suggests that the melting arctic will lead to strong arctic land warming (something like 3 degrees centigrade), and this in turn will increase the release of methane from permafrost.

    http://www.agu.org/journals/gl/gl0811/2008GL033985/2008GL033985.pdf
    http://www.ucar.edu/news/releases/2008/permafrost.jsp

  40. observa
  41. John Mashey
    July 10th, 2008 at 16:44 | #41

    re: #40 observa

    I assume you know who Marc Morano (and his boss Sen. James Inhofe) is, but if you don’t, here is what Sourcewartch says. He was one of the key participants in spreading nonsense during the events studied in post #24.

  42. charles
    July 10th, 2008 at 18:04 | #42

    A climate change denialist writes:

    There has been open water at the north pole on several occasions in the last 70 years. It’s nothing new and it’s not a disaster. The Northwest Passage was ice free as recently as WWII.

    Bet the finns wished that was true.
    http://www.seaclimate.com/2/pdf/2_41.pdf

  43. charles
    July 10th, 2008 at 18:26 | #43

    MH Says:
    July 9th, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    I accept the predictive uncertainty even more so since a recent diversion into Mondelbrot’s fractal theory

    Thats the one that scares me, we have pushed a system with a very high gain out of a stable state where it has been for 9000 years. In reality we have no idea where it is going to settle, and no idea if it’s too late to bring it back to where it was.

  44. observa
    July 10th, 2008 at 23:35 | #44

    “I assume you know who Marc Morano (and his boss Sen. James Inhofe) is”
    It was more the report on India’s take on AGW John. The messenger was of no importance, but I did assume the message isn’t fictional. The fact they’re happy to see Indian per capita CO2 emissions rise to 20T, really makes a mockery of any well intentioned amelioration efforts by the guilt ridden. Perhaps we’d all better hope we’ve fluked AGW on top of that impending Ice Age if the experts are all right. On that point I noted this little snippet amongst the biz news of the McCarthur Coal takeover move by more multinationals(includes one of those cheese eating nukes types by the way)-

    ‘MACARTHUR Coal shares surged more than 7 per cent today after the company increased its annual profit guidance by as much as $23 million after a rise in expected sales.

    The Queensland-based coal miner has forecast a profit of between $80 million to $90 million for the 2008 financial year, less than two months after providing guidance of $67 million to $75 million.

    Macarthur, the supplier of more than a third of the world’s pulverised coal, said the revised forecast follows increased coal sales and shipments in June, due to a reduction in the vessel queue at Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal.

    “This is particularly pleasing considering operations at Coppabella continue to suffer residual effects from flooding in the Bowen basin earlier in the year,” acting chief executive Peter Kane said in a statement.

    Macarthur shares gained $1.15, or 7.5 per cent to an intra-day high of $16.45 before easing to $16.40 by 2.30pm (AEST).

    Macarthur has been the focus of corporate action over recent months, with steelmakers ArcelorMittal, the world’s biggest, and Korea’s Posco acquiring significant positions in the company.

    Steelmakers are buying into coal and iron ore companies to secure supply as commodity prices climb higher, underpinned by the industrialisation of China and other developing nations.

    Corporate interest was sparked after former Macarthur chief executive Ken Talbot started selling down his major stake in the company he founded.

    Macarthur’s largest customer ArcelorMittal is now the company’s biggest single shareholder with a 19.9 per cent stake.

    Chinese group CITIC has a 17.7 per cent interest, while Posco – another Macarthur customer – has a 10 per cent stake.

    ArcelorMittal and Posco purchased their stakes in Macarthur at $20 per share.’

    Yes folks, that’s a third of the world’s pulverised coal!

  45. observa
    July 10th, 2008 at 23:41 | #45

    Well actually it’s more than a third, which probably means it’s less than 40% if that makes it sound better.

  46. Socrates
    July 11th, 2008 at 00:34 | #46

    Duscany 25
    “There has been open water at the north pole on several occasions in the last 70 years. It’s nothing new and it’s not a disaster. The Northwest Passage was ice free as recently as WWII.”

    That simply isn’t true. I may not be a scientist but that simply isn’t true. The North west Passage has never been reliably proven to be ice free in recorded history until recently. It was first “sailed” by Amundsen starting in 1906. He took three years(!), carefully picking his way through the shallowest waters with the youngest ice. His boar was often trapped in ice.

    In WWII a Canadian cutter (reinforced against ice, i.e. an ice-breaker) made it through in 28 months, often bing locked in ice along the way. Saying that ice breakers sailed by expert sailors can force their way through thin pack-ice over many months does not make something ice free.

  47. jquiggin
    July 11th, 2008 at 09:56 | #47

    As this RealClimate article
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/06/north-pole-notes/
    shows, the presence of gaps in the ice is not new, but large expanses of open water at the Pole (possible this year) or the complete melting of the ice cap (possible quite soon as discussed in the post) would be unprecedented. Its notable that my predictions regarding delusionist defense mechanisms have been fulfilled almost immediately.

  48. Smiley
    July 11th, 2008 at 10:48 | #48

    Saying that ice breakers sailed by expert sailors can force their way through thin pack-ice over many months does not make something ice free.

    And I thought that my attempt at appearing insufferable and self-serving was good, but the original statement really was a corker.

  49. Stephen L
    July 11th, 2008 at 17:04 | #49

    I haven’t read Climate Code Red, but I’ve heard Spratt talk and read some shorter pieces he’s written. It seems he’s cherry-picking the research to find the most pessimistic scenarios (he may acknowledge this in the book, he doesn’t when speaking).

    However, everything he points to is genuine research. There’s no lying about facts, no deliberate distortions. Just that he’s using that portion of the research (maybe one paper in five) that paints the worst picture.

    The contrast with the behaviour of the denialists is sharp, as we can see from the posts above including straight out lies.

    BTW, if you go to spaceweather,the page Chapman sites, at the moment you’ll find a page from an actual expert in the field noting that while the current solar low is longer than the last few its so far half the length of one in the 1930s, which didn’t seem to plunge us into an Ice Age.

  50. John Mashey
    July 12th, 2008 at 01:02 | #50

    Since neither Amazon.com nor Amazon.ca carry it, and since “Amazon Australia” does nto carry books, I haven’t read it either.

    However, every IPCC author I’ve heard or spoken with describes projections with uncertainty ranges, explains what they know, and what they don’t. The nature of the IPCC process essentially guarantees conservativism, i.e., that they include effects that are well understood, and inherently have bigger uncertainty bars for one they don’t. I.e.e, they write “what we know”, much more than “what we worry about”.

    For example, a lot of people got confused about projected sea level rise, because they explicitly didn’t project rate at which “Greenland melts”.

    It is often quite hard to project trends across nonlinear effects or inflection points in underlying causes, and the particular concern in this case is that most of the effects have positive feedbacks. A few years ago, Richard Lindzen tried to make a case for a wonderful negative feedback that fix everything (the “IRIS effect”), but it turned out not to work.

    Hence, it is quite possible for both the IPCC and Code Red to be “right”.

    Hopefully, Code Red will make it to Amazon soon!

  51. September 23rd, 2008 at 14:21 | #51

    “A more reasonable hope is that the sight of open water at the North Pole will finally convince policymakers and the large section of the public who are still doubtful that we need urgent action.”

    The sight of open water has caused urgent action but in the form of commercialisation. Oil, gas, shipping lanes, I suspect for some interests global warming can’t come fast enough.

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