Lovelock

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xnic...@hotmail.com

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Jan 18, 2006, 12:43:00 PM1/18/06
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The article by James Lovelock on the front page of the "Independent"
earlier this week shows that the mainstream now regard the question of
Greenhouse effect Global warming (GeGw) as an issue of extreme gravity.
I would question some of his conclusions and solutions though.
For one thing, I don't think he provides any hard evidence that by
2100, technological civilisation will no longer be possible and than
all we can do is adopt a "survival" strategy.
While the aim may be to shock, depending on your philosophy, such
pessimism may lead to entirely the wrong conclusions.
For example, a Christian I spoke to about it was almost beaming at the
prospect and said "We can't save the world, so save your soul"!
Lovelock and the nuclear lobby will no doubt renew their clarion call
for more nuclear power plants.
Some of his arguments are frankly silly though.

For example, the complete rejection of wind power because it will use
up agricultural land.
A stupid position given that in NW Europe at least, offshore wind is an
entirely practical proposition already supplying energy to hundreds of
thousands of homes and quite capable of dramatic expansion.
Moreover, he rejects the possibility of PV energy in desert areas which
currently don't produce any crops.

Similarly he fails to discuss the possibility of far less polluting
transport methods, in particular
hybrids, including gas turbine hybrids for cars and buses and hydrogen
fuel cells.

If some nuclear power needs to be produced in areas without these
resources it should be in reactors that don't produce waste products
with half lives of 24 thousand years, which no one knows how to dispose
of. While that problem remains, nuclear is a fool's paradise solution.
Caro Rubbia, the former CERN director and nobel prize winner for
discoveries in particle physics, has proposed an 'energy amplifier'
reactor that uses Thorium and produces Uranium as a waste product with
a half life of only 500 years. This proposal at least deserves
consideration before any decision is taken of more nukes. In addition,
fusion research is worth pursuing.

Lovelock is now 86 and while his GAIA hypothesis was a brilliant
contribution to understanding bio-systems holistically, no scientist
makes great contributions at this age.
I suspect he is allowing psychological prejudices to colour his
conclusions rather than relying on hard evidence.

None of this is to provide any ammunition to the imbeciles who reject
the GeGw, but all is not yet lost. The solution is in the political
realm and involves tackling the corporations who have a vested interest
in oil, automobiles and unsustainable consumption, as well as the
governments they support and succour.

We shouldn't accept any palliatives and half measures from these
sources, they need to be booted out and replaced by a society organised
on sane principles, including a respect for the natural environment. I
would suggest that is a socialist society run by the collective
producers and consumers in their own interests.

Michael Tobis

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Jan 18, 2006, 1:18:39 PM1/18/06
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> The article by James Lovelock on the front page of the "Independent"
> earlier this week shows that the mainstream now regard the question of
> Greenhouse effect Global warming (GeGw) as an issue of extreme gravity.

Lovelock is interesting but has never really been mainstream.

It is nice to hear some prominent alarmism to balance out the
well-funded Polyannas.

The mainstream is not the extreme. Lovelock's stridency, though perhaps
excessive, may serve to balance the discussion in the press, putting
the IPCC consensus in the middle where it belongs.

mt

D.H. Gottlieb

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Jan 18, 2006, 6:46:24 PM1/18/06
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Hi,

What I like most about Lovelock's comments is that I am no longer so
radical a voice on climate change--especially when compared to him. He
says billions of dead and we are passed the point of no return. I say
less than billions and we are not yet passed that point--but we're
getting there. Of course Bush's carbon Intensity plan will
unfortunately seal the coffin.
Scary, isn't it?

BTW: Wolf.

peace,
D.H. Gottlieb
www.thegalileosyndrome.com

Sparky @zig-zag.net

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Jan 18, 2006, 7:56:26 PM1/18/06
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Michael Tobis wrote:
> > The article by James Lovelock on the front page of the "Independent"
> > earlier this week shows that the mainstream now regard the question of
> > Greenhouse effect Global warming (GeGw) as an issue of extreme gravity.
>
> Lovelock is interesting but has never really been mainstream.


That's an understatement. Advancement in science carreers can come to a
screaching halt by saying kind words in public about Lovelock.

Let's remember the real Lovelock. He's the guy hired by NASA to figure
out some science experiment package that might detect life on Mars. He
thought about it. He realized that life would alter its environment in
ways that natural processes never can (say putting 20% oxygen in the
air on Earth, for example). He had a background of detection equipment
that could identify trace elements in the ai in unprecedented tiny
amounts, orders of magnitude more accurate than prior generations of
instruments.

He invented the instrumentation that detected the CFCs ozone depletion.
In a very real sense he contributed to the discovery of GHGs dynamics
and theory of Global Warming.

His frequent collaborator in he Gaia Hypothesis, Dr. Lynn Margulis, has
always been mainstream, credible, accepted in polite company, even
though she did half the work that gets Lovelock ridiculed. Go figure,
eh?

380 & Counting

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Jan 18, 2006, 10:04:20 PM1/18/06
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unfortunately, i agree with lovelock. i sensed a point of no return
around 2003 or 2004. it wasn't based on GW or CO2 numbers. i didn't even
know about that. i felt it based upon (and knowing of) chemical dumps
and massive groundwater contamination the long slow poison

after the nov. 04 election, i 'heard' the nail being pounded in the coffin
(the same one you referred to i'm sure) i told my friends " the world
will never recover from this"

some people call these views pessimistic. i call it facing reality.
it is all very sad, but i'd rather know about it then be blindsided like
most folks will be. most people have NO idea how big these problems are.
absolutely none.

like the nightly new tonight reported inflation numbers for '05 at 4.4% ~
BUT ( tv emphasized ) it is only 2.2% after you take out energy and
food. 2.2% is (italics) actually low !

hahahahaha !! ..... don't panic the public about anything.... hahahaha
(sorry, but i thought that was SO funny) hahahahaha
which leads me to food and energy 95% of our food is produced
with fossil fuel energy. the new dvd ___the end of suburbia__ woke
me before the shocking lovelock article. the indiana dept. of energy
showed it at their convention this month. good grief.
this generation is really gonna get hammered. one way or the other.


"D.H. Gottlieb" <d...@canopypublishing.com> wrote in message
news:1137627984.4...@f14g2000cwb.googlegroups.com...

James Annan

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Jan 19, 2006, 1:56:33 AM1/19/06
to

Sparky @zig-zag.net wrote:
> Michael Tobis wrote:
> > > The article by James Lovelock on the front page of the "Independent"
> > > earlier this week shows that the mainstream now regard the question of
> > > Greenhouse effect Global warming (GeGw) as an issue of extreme gravity.
> >
> > Lovelock is interesting but has never really been mainstream.
>
>
> That's an understatement. Advancement in science carreers can come to a
> screaching halt by saying kind words in public about Lovelock.

I know 2 very successful environmental scientists in the UK who were
supervised by Lovelock.

James

Alastair McDonald

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Jan 19, 2006, 6:22:15 AM1/19/06
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"Michael Tobis" <mto...@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:1137608319.9...@o13g2000cwo.googlegroups.com...

> > The article by James Lovelock on the front page of the "Independent"
> > earlier this week shows that the mainstream now regard the question of
> > Greenhouse effect Global warming (GeGw) as an issue of extreme gravity.
>
> Lovelock is interesting but has never really been mainstream.
>
> It is nice to hear some prominent alarmism to balance out the
> well-funded Polyannas.

It is not the Pollyannas who a well funded. It is the sceptics. The
Pollyannas, like you, James and William are only on academic
wages. Realists like me and James Lovelock get no wage at
all :-(.

All we get is ridicule because we are not Pollyannas like you!

Cheers, Alastair.

Michael Tobis

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Jan 19, 2006, 10:07:28 PM1/19/06
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> The Pollyannas, like you, James and William are only on academic wages.

Actually, I plead innocent, despite my tenuous foothold in academia.

I believe the IPCC genuinely constitutes a consensus, but I believe
that the consensus severely understates the risks.

There are several reasons for this. Notably:
- models are tuned for small signal accuracy and can't capture
large nonlinearities
- carbon cycle exacerbating feedbacks are not sufficiently attended
to, and are buried under the rug in the simulation scenarios
- the IPCC seeks the most likely response of the system rather than
the risk-weighted outcome, which essentially hides the worst cases
- most scientists are conservative in personality and don't like
making a big fuss, so shy away from clear statements of the enormity of
the risk we face

I am not certain we are in bigger trouble than the IPCC makes out but I
am convinced that people are confusing the relatively mild IPCC
outcomes with the plausible high-risk cases that can't be eliminated on
current evidence.

I didn't ridicule Lovelock, recall. I do disagree with him. I hope and
believe he is overstating the case. Still, I welcome his presence on
the scene.

One of the nastiest and most toxic tricks of the denialists is to paint
the ponderous compromise consensus represented by the IPCC WGI reports
as representing an extreme pole of informed discussion on the risks of
anthropogenic climate change. The press and public needs to see the
IPCC for what it is, a dutifully centrist process describing the
position of the scientific culture.

The scientific culture is not without bias. The "skeptics" claim of the
direction of the bias always strikes me as totally out of touch with
the culture they claim to be describing.

On the other hand, I am enough of a scientist to maintain a loyalty to
truth. Just because you are alarmed too doesn't mean I am obliged to
believe that your opinion is based on a valid theory.

mt

Message has been deleted

James Annan

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Jan 19, 2006, 11:41:35 PM1/19/06
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Michael Tobis wrote:
> > The Pollyannas, like you, James and William are only on academic wages.
>
> Actually, I plead innocent, despite my tenuous foothold in academia.
>
> I believe the IPCC genuinely constitutes a consensus, but I believe
> that the consensus severely understates the risks.
>
> There are several reasons for this. Notably:
> - models are tuned for small signal accuracy and can't capture
> large nonlinearities

I don't really understand what you can mean by this point. The models
perform reasonably well across a wide range of conditions including the
6C cooling at the last glacial minimum, the ~12C annual temperature
cycle (more at higher latitudes), not to mention the basic spatial
patterns in the first place. A 3C temperature rise is not large
compared to the range they've already simulated, and there are good
reasons to expect the models to be largely correct in broad detail.

> - carbon cycle exacerbating feedbacks are not sufficiently attended
> to, and are buried under the rug in the simulation scenarios

Carbon cycle feedbacks have been included in a number of models
(C4MIP), my understanding is that the effects are generally modest, and
even for the outliers it is not something that turns a mainstream
projection into a nightmare. One possible wildcard is a methane burp,
about which I know little but it does on the face of it seem worthy of
consideration.

> - the IPCC seeks the most likely response of the system rather than
> the risk-weighted outcome, which essentially hides the worst cases

Um...no. That's simply not true. It describes the range of outcomes
(according to some rather vague probabilistic statements).

> - most scientists are conservative in personality and don't like
> making a big fuss, so shy away from clear statements of the enormity of
> the risk we face

Well...this may be true but even if so is highly misleading. It's not
"most scientists" who we hear, either in the media or through
assessments such as the IPCC. It's those scientists who make their
opinions forcefully enough who are heard, and I absolutely disagree
that this subset are conservative in personality and do not like making
a fuss.

James

Phil Hays

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Jan 20, 2006, 1:53:39 AM1/20/06
to
"James Annan" wrote:

>Michael Tobis wrote:
>> I believe the IPCC genuinely constitutes a consensus, but I believe
>> that the consensus severely understates the risks.
>>
>> There are several reasons for this. Notably:
>> - models are tuned for small signal accuracy and can't capture
>> large nonlinearities
>
>I don't really understand what you can mean by this point. The models
>perform reasonably well across a wide range of conditions including the
>6C cooling at the last glacial minimum, the ~12C annual temperature
>cycle (more at higher latitudes), not to mention the basic spatial
>patterns in the first place.

But the models do not perform well to warmer climates, such as the
Cretaceous. Or has this changed? If so, please show me a reference.
The problem, as I understand it, is that climate models get the poles
far too cold (relative to the flora and fauna present) while
simulating with the range of CO2 supported by geochemical evidence.

http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/short/282/5397/2241

"The presence of reptiles at Arctic latitudes offers challenges for
efforts to model Cretaceous climates. The high polar temperatures
implied here exacerbate the problems of simulating warm polar
conditions without also raising equatorial temperatures to
unreasonably high values (36)."


>One possible wildcard is a methane burp,
>about which I know little but it does on the face of it seem worthy of
>consideration.

Yes, it does.


>> - the IPCC seeks the most likely response of the system rather than
>> the risk-weighted outcome, which essentially hides the worst cases
>
>Um...no. That's simply not true. It describes the range of outcomes
>(according to some rather vague probabilistic statements).

The IPCC is ignoring some of the considerations that are wildcards.
Such as more and much faster warming in the Arctic than expected. Or
a methane burp.

Or both.

I hope we can ignore the wildcard outcomes. I fear we can't.


--
Phil Hays

James Annan

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Jan 20, 2006, 7:16:40 AM1/20/06
to
Phil Hays wrote:

> But the models do not perform well to warmer climates, such as the
> Cretaceous. Or has this changed?

There are a lot of uncertainties when you go back that far, but not
getting a very good arctic in a climate state that equates to more than
4xCO2 doesn't seem like a hugely important error to me in the context of
Lovelock's 2100 forecast. I suppose if that is the only place that a few
"breeding pairs" can survive, it might matter :-)

James
--
James Annan
see web pages for email
http://www.ne.jp/asahi/julesandjames/home/
http://julesandjames.blogspot.com/

King Amdo

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Jan 20, 2006, 11:58:44 AM1/20/06
to
...yeah interesting, but not suprising, to see that Lovelock has given
up....as I said.

YOU FAIL TO SURVIVE CIVILIZATION ETC INTACT

HAVE SOME RESPECT FOR THE SCARED MOTHER WITCH PERVERTED WESTERN FILDTH
.....That's at least several aeons of learning :~

Phil Hays

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Jan 20, 2006, 12:38:35 PM1/20/06
to
James Annan wrote:

>Phil Hays wrote:
>
>> But the models do not perform well to warmer climates, such as the
>> Cretaceous. Or has this changed?
>
>There are a lot of uncertainties when you go back that far, but not
>getting a very good arctic in a climate state that equates to more than
>4xCO2 doesn't seem like a hugely important error to me in the context of
>Lovelock's 2100 forecast.

It might be a hugely important error relative to the IPCC's forecast.
While there is evidence that the models are badly wrong in the Arctic
with more than 4X CO2, is there any compelling evidence that the
models are correct at 2X CO2? Or even 1.5X CO2?? Until we understand
what is wrong with the models in the Cretaceous climate, I don't think
we will know what the threshold for this error is, other than it seems
to be at a warmer climate.

For Lovelock's forecast to be correct, a lot has to go wrong. That's
fairly unlikely, in my opinion.

There are things that can go wrong with the IPCC forecast, and there
is evidence that faster than expected Arctic warming might well be one
of these. It is also unlikely that the IPCC forecast is completely
correct, in my opinion. While I agree that the IPCC has laid out the
most likely courses of future climate, according the very best of
current understanding, something is likely to go wrong. Our current
understanding isn't complete, as the Cretaceous Arctic fairly clearly
shows.


--
Phil Hays

James Annan

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Jan 20, 2006, 9:21:20 PM1/20/06
to
Phil Hays wrote:

> James Annan wrote:
>
>
>>Phil Hays wrote:
>>
>>
>>>But the models do not perform well to warmer climates, such as the
>>>Cretaceous. Or has this changed?
>>
>>There are a lot of uncertainties when you go back that far, but not
>>getting a very good arctic in a climate state that equates to more than
>>4xCO2 doesn't seem like a hugely important error to me in the context of
>>Lovelock's 2100 forecast.
>
>
> It might be a hugely important error relative to the IPCC's forecast.

To who? Polar bears?

> While there is evidence that the models are badly wrong in the Arctic
> with more than 4X CO2, is there any compelling evidence that the
> models are correct at 2X CO2? Or even 1.5X CO2?? Until we understand
> what is wrong with the models in the Cretaceous climate, I don't think
> we will know what the threshold for this error is, other than it seems
> to be at a warmer climate.

We are already at sqrt(2)xCO2, although of course only a transient
response. On broad scales, the models are correct so far. Back in the
Cretaceous, the continents were in different places. Trying to make a
drama out of some poorly-quantified uncertainties (it's not something
I've looked into, but I'd bet that the data have substantial errors) way
back in the distant past when the planet was a very different one is
really quite a stretch.

Phil Hays

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Jan 21, 2006, 1:41:49 AM1/21/06
to
James Annan wrote:

>Phil Hays wrote:
>
>> James Annan wrote:
>>
>>
>>>Phil Hays wrote:
>>>
>>>
>>>>But the models do not perform well to warmer climates, such as the
>>>>Cretaceous. Or has this changed?
>>>
>>>There are a lot of uncertainties when you go back that far, but not
>>>getting a very good arctic in a climate state that equates to more than
>>>4xCO2 doesn't seem like a hugely important error to me in the context of
>>>Lovelock's 2100 forecast.
>>
>>
>> It might be a hugely important error relative to the IPCC's forecast.
>
>To who? Polar bears?

To humans, of course.


>> While there is evidence that the models are badly wrong in the Arctic
>> with more than 4X CO2, is there any compelling evidence that the
>> models are correct at 2X CO2? Or even 1.5X CO2?? Until we understand
>> what is wrong with the models in the Cretaceous climate, I don't think
>> we will know what the threshold for this error is, other than it seems
>> to be at a warmer climate.
>
>We are already at sqrt(2)xCO2, although of course only a transient
>response.

Of course. What fraction of the total response has played out? Less
than half, as I understand it.


> On broad scales, the models are correct so far. Back in the
>Cretaceous, the continents were in different places. Trying to make a
>drama out of some poorly-quantified uncertainties (it's not something
>I've looked into, but I'd bet that the data have substantial errors) way
>back in the distant past when the planet was a very different one is
>really quite a stretch.

I'll suggest you look into it.


--
Phil Hays

James Annan

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Jan 21, 2006, 3:09:22 AM1/21/06
to
Phil Hays wrote:

> James Annan wrote:
>
>
>>Phil Hays wrote:
>>
>>
>>>James Annan wrote:
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>>Phil Hays wrote:
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>>But the models do not perform well to warmer climates, such as the
>>>>>Cretaceous. Or has this changed?
>>>>
>>>>There are a lot of uncertainties when you go back that far, but not
>>>>getting a very good arctic in a climate state that equates to more than
>>>>4xCO2 doesn't seem like a hugely important error to me in the context of
>>>>Lovelock's 2100 forecast.
>>>
>>>
>>>It might be a hugely important error relative to the IPCC's forecast.
>>
>>To who? Polar bears?
>
>
> To humans, of course.
>

In global terms, I find it hard to consider it "hugely important" with
so few potentially affected. But I suppose their opinions might differ.

>
>>>While there is evidence that the models are badly wrong in the Arctic
>>>with more than 4X CO2, is there any compelling evidence that the
>>>models are correct at 2X CO2? Or even 1.5X CO2?? Until we understand
>>>what is wrong with the models in the Cretaceous climate, I don't think
>>>we will know what the threshold for this error is, other than it seems
>>>to be at a warmer climate.
>>
>>We are already at sqrt(2)xCO2, although of course only a transient
>>response.
>
>
> Of course. What fraction of the total response has played out? Less
> than half, as I understand it.
>

About half, depending exactly what you're counting in the way of non-CO2
influences. There's obvious signs of gross errors so far, although I'm
sure there will be some surprises at regional levels. Indeed the last
couple of decades could be portrayed as quite a success in terms of the
much older projections, back in the days when the magnitude of the
anthropogenic effect was much less well known.

>
>>On broad scales, the models are correct so far. Back in the
>>Cretaceous, the continents were in different places. Trying to make a
>>drama out of some poorly-quantified uncertainties (it's not something
>>I've looked into, but I'd bet that the data have substantial errors) way
>>back in the distant past when the planet was a very different one is
>>really quite a stretch.
>
>
> I'll suggest you look into it.
>

I'll suggest I have better things to do with my time. Posting to usenet
might not be one of them, however :-)

Michael Tobis

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Jan 21, 2006, 10:50:51 AM1/21/06
to
> . A 3C temperature rise is not large
> compared to the range they've already simulated, and there are good
> reasons to expect the models to be largely correct in broad detail.

I agree with both of these assertions on the global scale, but we live
locally. We have very little evidence of how the system responds to
huge transients, the most recent comparable event being 65 million
years ago. Ringing in complex nonlinear systems is much harder to
predict than the equilibrium response.

There is no strong reason to expect the performance of the models in
representing regional severe events for instance to be correct. Indeed,
I would argue that they would tend to underrepresent such phenomena
already. (People I respect don't buy my argument that this is related
to the fact that they are exploring a smaller state space than the real
system, but this comes up in conversation where the thesis that severe
events are underrepresented in climate models was generally agreed.)

While this doesn't necessarily mean that climate projections will fail
to predict the trend in severe and anomalous events, it hardly is
reason for confidence.

Models notoriously still can't capture the deep overturning of the
ocean, and there is little reason to believe that the stability of the
Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets is well-categorized.

I think the models are quite useful, but I don't think there is any
reason to be confident that they are reliable descriptions of the
transients in a strongly and abruptly forced system, which after all,
is a much harder problem than equilibrium or quasi-equilibrium system
prediction.

In short, models are successful in quasi-equilibrium situations, but we
don't know that this will be a good approximation into the future.


> Carbon cycle feedbacks have been included in a number of models
> (C4MIP), my understanding is that the effects are generally modest, and
> even for the outliers it is not something that turns a mainstream
> projection into a nightmare.

I believe that these systems are much more weakly constrained and much
less well-understood than the physical climate system as usually
defined. The fact that we don't understand the 100KA glacial cycle
should constitute strong evidence of this.

> One possible wildcard is a methane burp,
> about which I know little but it does on the face of it seem worthy of
> consideration.

Yes, it's an especially alarming scenario.

> > - most scientists are conservative in personality and don't like
> > making a big fuss, so shy away from clear statements of the enormity of
> > the risk we face

> Well...this may be true but even if so is highly misleading. It's not
> "most scientists" who we hear, either in the media

fair enough

> or through
> assessments such as the IPCC.

Here I disagree. I don't have much feel for WGII and WGIII, but WGI
chooses scientists based on them being eminent and respected. Agreed, a
few shrinking violets may self-select out, as well as a couple of
outliers, but the tone of the group is set by scientific success, which
does not project positively onto stridency.

In conclusion, I am not saying the consensus position is wrong. I am
saying it is not strongly constrained, and the risks that something
much worse might happen are sufficiently substantial that focus on the
consensus expectation is irrational. We should risk-weight our response
and we aren't coming close to that.

regards
mt

Phil Hays

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Jan 21, 2006, 1:09:45 PM1/21/06
to
James Annan wrote:

>Phil Hays wrote:
>>James Annan wrote:
>>>Phil Hays wrote:
>>>>James Annan wrote:
>>>>>Phil Hays wrote:

>>>>>>But the models do not perform well to warmer climates, such as the
>>>>>>Cretaceous. Or has this changed?

>>>>>There are a lot of uncertainties when you go back that far, but not
>>>>>getting a very good arctic in a climate state that equates to more than
>>>>>4xCO2 doesn't seem like a hugely important error to me in the context of
>>>>>Lovelock's 2100 forecast.

>>>>It might be a hugely important error relative to the IPCC's forecast.

>>>To who? Polar bears?

>> To humans, of course.

>In global terms, I find it hard to consider it "hugely important" with
>so few potentially affected. But I suppose their opinions might differ.

While it is clear the Cretaceous Arctic is badly wrong (models predict
~0C, fossil evidence suggests ~20C), it should be noted that the rest
of the Cretaceous climate isn't accurately predicted as well. Of
course, the evidence is less clear elsewhere.


>>>>While there is evidence that the models are badly wrong in the Arctic
>>>>with more than 4X CO2, is there any compelling evidence that the
>>>>models are correct at 2X CO2? Or even 1.5X CO2?? Until we understand
>>>>what is wrong with the models in the Cretaceous climate, I don't think
>>>>we will know what the threshold for this error is, other than it seems
>>>>to be at a warmer climate.
>>>
>>>We are already at sqrt(2)xCO2, although of course only a transient
>>>response.
>>
>>
>> Of course. What fraction of the total response has played out? Less
>> than half, as I understand it.
>>
>
>About half, depending exactly what you're counting in the way of non-CO2
>influences. There's obvious signs of gross errors so far, although I'm
>sure there will be some surprises at regional levels. Indeed the last
>couple of decades could be portrayed as quite a success in terms of the
>much older projections, back in the days when the magnitude of the
>anthropogenic effect was much less well known.

I suspect you forgot a "no" in "There's obvious signs of gross errors
so far". If you didn't, I'll disagree. There are no obvious signs of
gross errors so far. And we have not changed the climate all that
much yet. Both can change.

The Arctic is warming faster than predicted.

"Since November 1978, the Arctic atmosphere has warmed at a rate that
is more than seven times faster than the average warming trend over
the southern two-thirds of the globe."

http://climate.uah.edu/dec2005.htm

Of course, this may be just local variation. Arctic climate is quite
variable. Longer records show a lot of variation.


--
Phil Hays

James Annan

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Jan 21, 2006, 6:44:56 PM1/21/06
to
Phil Hays wrote:

> The Arctic is warming faster than predicted.

Says who? How much faster?

> "Since November 1978, the Arctic atmosphere has warmed at a rate that
> is more than seven times faster than the average warming trend over
> the southern two-thirds of the globe."
>
> http://climate.uah.edu/dec2005.htm

You do realise that this quote barely supports your assertion, don't
you? All the models predict much more warming in the arctic than in the
global average.

http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/fig9-10.htm

7 times might be a bit of a stretch, but remember the multiple problems
with their data (especially towards the poles, as Eric Swanson will
explain in detail...).

Phil Hays

unread,
Jan 21, 2006, 10:57:49 PM1/21/06
to
James Annan wrote:
>Phil Hays wrote:

>> The Arctic is warming faster than predicted.

>> "Since November 1978, the Arctic atmosphere has warmed at a rate that
>> is more than seven times faster than the average warming trend over
>> the southern two-thirds of the globe."
>>
>> http://climate.uah.edu/dec2005.htm
>
>You do realise that this quote barely supports your assertion, don't
>you? All the models predict much more warming in the arctic than in the
>global average.

Of course. Models predict about two to three times more warming in
the Arctic relative to global average, as I recall. Do you have any
more accurate ratio? As I agreed, there are no obvious signs of gross
errors so far. Or I could say it this way: The historical climate
data doesn't exclude a reasonable null hypothesis. Yet. If you were
looking for a place where the IPCC consensus might not only be wrong,
but might be badly wrong, the Arctic is one place to keep an eye on.


>http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/fig9-10.htm
>
>7 times might be a bit of a stretch, but remember the multiple problems
>with their data (especially towards the poles, as Eric Swanson will
>explain in detail...).

So then go look at NASA GISS:

http://data.giss.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/gistemp/do_nmap.py?year_last=2005&month_last=12&sat=4&sst=1&type=trends&mean_gen=12&year1=1978&year2=2005&base1=1951&base2=1980&radius=250

They are at about 10X (0.34 : 3.4) over the same time period.


--
Phil Hays

James Annan

unread,
Jan 22, 2006, 12:49:29 AM1/22/06
to
Phil Hays wrote:

> James Annan wrote:
>
>>Phil Hays wrote:
>
>
>>>The Arctic is warming faster than predicted.
>>>"Since November 1978, the Arctic atmosphere has warmed at a rate that
>>>is more than seven times faster than the average warming trend over
>>>the southern two-thirds of the globe."
>>>
>>>http://climate.uah.edu/dec2005.htm
>>
>>You do realise that this quote barely supports your assertion, don't
>>you? All the models predict much more warming in the arctic than in the
>>global average.
>
>
> Of course.

Fair enough. But the original author of the quote didn't seem to be,
judging from the rest of his comments...

Models predict about two to three times more warming in
> the Arctic relative to global average, as I recall. Do you have any
> more accurate ratio? As I agreed, there are no obvious signs of gross
> errors so far. Or I could say it this way: The historical climate
> data doesn't exclude a reasonable null hypothesis. Yet. If you were
> looking for a place where the IPCC consensus might not only be wrong,
> but might be badly wrong, the Arctic is one place to keep an eye on.
>

I'm sure there will be regions where the models don't do very well, but
this is essentially a 2nd-order error compared to the overall global
picture.

What do you mean by "arctic" here? North of 66 is probably about 1.5C
area average (eyeballing it). Your 3.4C can only refer to the
northernmost nonempty boxes, of which there are maybe 5 at 81N.

Phil Hays

unread,
Jan 22, 2006, 2:58:48 AM1/22/06
to
James Annan wrote:
>Phil Hays wrote:

>>Models predict about two to three times more warming in
>> the Arctic relative to global average, as I recall. Do you have any
>> more accurate ratio? As I agreed, there are no obvious signs of gross
>> errors so far. Or I could say it this way: The historical climate
>> data doesn't exclude a reasonable null hypothesis. Yet. If you were
>> looking for a place where the IPCC consensus might not only be wrong,
>> but might be badly wrong, the Arctic is one place to keep an eye on.

>I'm sure there will be regions where the models don't do very well, but
>this is essentially a 2nd-order error compared to the overall global
>picture.

Is a large error in the Arctic necessarily 2nd-order?


>> So then go look at NASA GISS:
>>
>> http://data.giss.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/gistemp/do_nmap.py?year_last=2005&month_last=12&sat=4&sst=1&type=trends&mean_gen=12&year1=1978&year2=2005&base1=1951&base2=1980&radius=250
>>
>> They are at about 10X (0.34 : 3.4) over the same time period.
>>
>
>What do you mean by "arctic" here? North of 66 is probably about 1.5C
>area average (eyeballing it). Your 3.4C can only refer to the
>northernmost nonempty boxes, of which there are maybe 5 at 81N.

You are correct. Taking the 1.5C number, that is 4.4X the global
trend. 4.4X is larger still than the expected polar amplification of
2X to 3X.


--
Phil Hays

Atheist 4 Bush (reformed)

unread,
Jan 22, 2006, 12:41:10 PM1/22/06
to
Phil Hays wrote:

> If you were
> looking for a place where the IPCC consensus might not only be wrong,
> but might be badly wrong, the Arctic is one place to keep an eye on.
>
>> http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/fig9-10.htm

The discrepancy I find most interesting about Arctic
temperatures is the location. NASA-GISS, UKMO and the
CMIP cited above all indicate the location of max
surface temperature increase in the Arctic Ocean
proper, reaching a maximum near the North Pole.

Actual observations show maximal surface temperature
increase in interior Russia and AlCan.
Observations closest to the North Pole indicate
little change over the last thirty years.

http://data.giss.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/gistemp/do_nmap.py?year_last=2005&month_last=12&sat=4&sst=1&type=anoms&mean_gen=1212&year1=1976&year2=2005&base1=1951&base2=1980&radius=250

Why do models project maximal surface warming over the
Arctic Ocean rather than continental areas?

Do they underestimate Arctic Ocean cloudiness which
reduces the relative significance of surface CO2 radiance?

How have deep water Arctic Ocean temperatures changed
in the last three decades?

James Annan

unread,
Jan 23, 2006, 6:03:00 PM1/23/06
to
Michael Tobis wrote:

> I think the models are quite useful, but I don't think there is any
> reason to be confident that they are reliable descriptions of the
> transients in a strongly and abruptly forced system, which after all,
> is a much harder problem than equilibrium or quasi-equilibrium system
> prediction.
>
> In short, models are successful in quasi-equilibrium situations, but we
> don't know that this will be a good approximation into the future.
>

They already seem to be doing quite well for the last century, and
handle volcanic eruptions very reasonably. In terms of net forcing and
warming rate, the current situation is very close to plausible futures
for about 50 years, and not far off for 100.


>
>>> - most scientists are conservative in personality and don't like
>>>making a big fuss, so shy away from clear statements of the enormity of
>>>the risk we face
>
>
>>Well...this may be true but even if so is highly misleading. It's not
>>"most scientists" who we hear, either in the media
>
>
> fair enough
>
>
>>or through
>>assessments such as the IPCC.
>
>
> Here I disagree. I don't have much feel for WGII and WGIII, but WGI
> chooses scientists based on them being eminent and respected. Agreed, a
> few shrinking violets may self-select out, as well as a couple of
> outliers, but the tone of the group is set by scientific success, which
> does not project positively onto stridency.

You call it "stridency" when you wish to portray it as a negative
quality that will probably harm someone's credibility. I call it...
um... (consults thesaurus) oh, how about "forthright" or "charismatic"
(perhaps not quite perfect, but close enough) and I suggest that these
qualities are in fact likely to result in one's opinions being given
greater weight in the final outcome.

Although from what I've seen of it, scientific success seems to have as
much to do with who you know and where you've been as how good you are
in any (quasi-)objective measure. But that's a rather different issue.

Anyway, I will reserve judgement on AR4 until I've seen how it turns out.

> In conclusion, I am not saying the consensus position is wrong. I am
> saying it is not strongly constrained, and the risks that something
> much worse might happen are sufficiently substantial that focus on the
> consensus expectation is irrational. We should risk-weight our response
> and we aren't coming close to that.

I disagree, partly for the practical reason that we cannot credibly
estimate probabilities of extremely unlikely events, partly because our
strategy should be adaptive and can be adjusted in the light of new
evidence. The idea that our actions in 2006 will effectively set the
timer on some ticking time-bomb that cannot possibly be defused in the
future is a fantastical device whose only possible outcome is to
polarise the debate and paralyse policy while people argue over the
"correct" infinitesimal probabilities to assign to cataclysmic events.

Michael Tobis

unread,
Jan 24, 2006, 6:17:20 PM1/24/06
to
> In terms of net forcing and
> warming rate, the current situation is very close to plausible futures
> for about 50 years, and not far off for 100.

Yes, but some systems could just be starting to tip over, systems which
are essentially fixed boundary conditions under ordinary conditions.
This will be very hard to capture in models which work fine in
reproducing normal climates by treating them as fixed.

> how about "forthright" or "charismatic"
> (perhaps not quite perfect, but close enough) and I suggest that these
> qualities are in fact likely to result in one's opinions being given
> greater weight in the final outcome.

One community's "charismatic" is another community's "excessive".
Despite what our friends in the skeptics' community would have people
believe, the origins of the climatological community are deeply
conservative in personality and politics.

I am suggesting that there may be a herd mentality within the community
rather as the skeptics suggest, except that there is no strong reason
to conclude in which direction it is biased. Different people's
intuitions inform them differently on this. I believe that the IPCC
process (at least in the first three WG1 reports) may be biased toward
understatement, and it achieved this not by skewing the maximum
likelihood response but by paying little attention to the spectrum of
plausible risks.

> I disagree, partly for the practical reason that we cannot credibly
> estimate probabilities of extremely unlikely events,

It's worse than that. We have to actually establish costs, which is
even harder.

Still, we can do more to establish confidence bounds than essentially
ignoring the question. I would pose the question as: what are the
extreme (low-cost and high cost) outcomes consistent with available
evidence (and that for the range of atmospheric composition scenarios).


My impression is that the high impact scenarios would dominate, but I
sure wish someone would take this on in some formal way.

I don't say this would be easy, but I would not agree that it is
impossible. We have some information to work with, and the statistician
in me insists that some information is always better than none.

> partly because our
> strategy should be adaptive and can be adjusted in the light of new
> evidence.

Yes, I suppose, but we haven't show much skill at this to date. You are
making John McCarthy's old argument: once it's demonstrably serious we
can do something about it. But the cases that are of concern are
unstable equilibria (clathrates, ice shelves, soil carbon) and once
they become serious they may be irreversible, and even if reversible
they will be decades from peaking at the moment humanity gets serious
about trying to reverse them.

As a consequence any mucking with the system with forcing time
constants shorter than a century strikes me as very risky, and quite
likely to lead to irreversible and very disruptive shifts.

At present it seems to be your intuition against mine. I honestly hope
you are right and I am wrong, but I don't see how contemprary science
constrains the worst case risk very much.

> The idea that our actions in 2006 will effectively set the
> timer on some ticking time-bomb that cannot possibly be defused in the
> future is a fantastical device whose only possible outcome is to
> polarise the debate and paralyse policy while people argue over the
> "correct" infinitesimal probabilities to assign to cataclysmic events.

I don't care for the characterization and I disagree with the
assertion.

Consider the asymmetry of the glacial cycle ofr example. Continental
glaciers appear to collapse suddenly. There's apparently a hysteresis
in ice cap formation and its retreat.

It's quite possible to cause a mechanical structure to start to fail in
such a way that removing the initial forcing will not stop the failure,
and there are indications that ice sheets may behave in exactly this
way.

Contrary to what you say, there is no strong theoretical or practical
reason to expect large shifts in geophysical systems to be reversible,
as far as I know. That being the case I not only disagree with what you
say, I fail to understand the vehemence with which you say it. Why are
you so sure there is no "time-bomb"?

mt

James Annan

unread,
Jan 28, 2006, 3:31:47 AM1/28/06
to

Michael Tobis wrote:
> > In terms of net forcing and
> > warming rate, the current situation is very close to plausible futures
> > for about 50 years, and not far off for 100.
>
> Yes, but some systems could just be starting to tip over, systems which
> are essentially fixed boundary conditions under ordinary conditions.
> This will be very hard to capture in models which work fine in
> reproducing normal climates by treating them as fixed.

Ah, it's time for the "tipping point" metaphor. It's very poetic and
carries a strong emotional impact of the vulnerable Earth, teetering on
the cliff edge just waiting for a little (anthropogenic) perturbation
to cause a catastrophe. But....


>
> > how about "forthright" or "charismatic"
> > (perhaps not quite perfect, but close enough) and I suggest that these
> > qualities are in fact likely to result in one's opinions being given
> > greater weight in the final outcome.
>
> One community's "charismatic" is another community's "excessive".

Indeed, and some of the statements I've had a go at on my blog
certainly fall into the latter category, IMO. There are plenty more I
haven't bothered to mention, too.


> Despite what our friends in the skeptics' community would have people
> believe, the origins of the climatological community are deeply
> conservative in personality and politics.

The modern set doesn't seem that way to me. Maybe it has changed?


> I am suggesting that there may be a herd mentality within the community
> rather as the skeptics suggest, except that there is no strong reason
> to conclude in which direction it is biased.

The publication bias of such as Nature certainly provides a strong bias
in the debate, and I think it would be naive to think that this does
not affect the perceptions even of the scientists themselves. Look at
how some of them jumped at the "smoking gun" of Bryden's result, for
example. At least there were some views on the other side in that case.
I believe the debate in my own area of research is highly skewed in an
alarmist direction, and I'm struggling to get a simple paper
illustrating this through peer review because of a nit-picking referee
who obviously feels strongly threatened by what I have to say. I don't
think he can reasonably block it much longer, though.

> Still, we can do more to establish confidence bounds than essentially
> ignoring the question. I would pose the question as: what are the
> extreme (low-cost and high cost) outcomes consistent with available
> evidence (and that for the range of atmospheric composition scenarios).
>
>
> My impression is that the high impact scenarios would dominate, but I
> sure wish someone would take this on in some formal way.

Remember that to a first approximation, the uncertainty has no effect
whatsoever. The expected value of 3, 3+-1 and 3+-6 are the same. It is
only when there is substantial nonlinearity in the cost as a function
of climate change that the uncertainty even enters the equation.

> Yes, I suppose, but we haven't show much skill at this to date. You are
> making John McCarthy's old argument: once it's demonstrably serious we
> can do something about it.

No, you completely misunderstand (or perhaps misrepresent) my point. We
can start doing sensible things that make sense anyway, without either
panicking about how the end of the world is nigh, or sticking our head
in the sand. Estimating a "safe stabilisation level" now in the face of
so much uncertainty (not least in what "safe" means) is an interesting
academic exercise but does little to address present needs.

If 400ppm of CO2 is going to render the planet uninhabitable, then
tough shit. In the long run we are all dead anyway, and there's nothing
more to be said about it, because we _will_ go beyond 400ppm in another
decade(ish). Fortunately, there is no reason to believe that 400ppm
will destroy the planet, or perhaps even do perceptible harm.

> Contrary to what you say, there is no strong theoretical or practical
> reason to expect large shifts in geophysical systems to be reversible,
> as far as I know. That being the case I not only disagree with what you
> say, I fail to understand the vehemence with which you say it. Why are
> you so sure there is no "time-bomb"?

My point is not about the irreversibility or otherwise, but the
implication that it carries a dire risk for the future of the planet.
It is possible that some readers will not realise, so I'll point out
that the loss of an ice sheet like Greenland will happen on the time
scale of 1000 years if at all. 1000 years! Of course what matters about
change is not the change itself, but the speed of the change. As ffor
reversibility, you might be comforted by the fact that the
deforestation of the UK is theoretically reversible, but it's not going
to get reversed any time soon, cos we are doing other things with the
land.

If you want to worry about something, worry about bird flu or the fact
that we've eaten all the fish or more generally the fact that roughly
half of all the world's renewable resources are currently consumed by
humans. These things all matter, right now, and are not contingent on
people being able to invent climate catastrophe theories more rapidly
than they can be reasonably ruled out.

James

Joshua Halpern

unread,
Jan 28, 2006, 6:15:30 AM1/28/06
to
James Annan wrote:
> Michael Tobis wrote:
>
>>>In terms of net forcing and
>>>warming rate, the current situation is very close to plausible futures
>>>for about 50 years, and not far off for 100.
>>
>>Yes, but some systems could just be starting to tip over, systems which
>>are essentially fixed boundary conditions under ordinary conditions.
>>This will be very hard to capture in models which work fine in
>>reproducing normal climates by treating them as fixed.
>
>
> Ah, it's time for the "tipping point" metaphor. It's very poetic and
> carries a strong emotional impact of the vulnerable Earth, teetering on
> the cliff edge just waiting for a little (anthropogenic) perturbation
> to cause a catastrophe. But....
>
You prefer bifurcation? Of couse tipping point has the advantage of
not requiring chaotic behavior, merely that an equilibrium has become
unstable.

>>Despite what our friends in the skeptics' community would have people
>>believe, the origins of the climatological community are deeply
>>conservative in personality and politics.
>
> The modern set doesn't seem that way to me. Maybe it has changed?
>

Or maybe the situation has become more threatening?


josh halpern

James Annan

unread,
Jan 28, 2006, 8:37:17 AM1/28/06
to
Joshua Halpern wrote:
> >>Despite what our friends in the skeptics' community would have people
> >>believe, the origins of the climatological community are deeply
> >>conservative in personality and politics.
> >
> > The modern set doesn't seem that way to me. Maybe it has changed?
> >
> Or maybe the situation has become more threatening?
>

I've heard people say that Hansen's forecast from 1990 or whenever
turned out pretty good.

Climate sensitivity was estimated to be 1.5-4.5C back in 1979.

What do you think has got more threatening since then, either in terms
of climate science, or projections of economic/emissions growth? Or is
it the impact of the climate change? It all seems very much as expected
to me, although the scenarios are (on average) probably a little less
alarming than they used to be, and reality is now clearly a little less
alarming than the scenarios.

One plausible hypthothesis as to what has happened is that after a
decade or two of inaction, and in the face of the dishonesty of the
septics, some scientists have decided they need to redress the balance
with a little bit of exaggeration and talking up of the threat - all
with the best possible intentions, of course...

James

Atheist 4 Bush (reformed)

unread,
Jan 28, 2006, 10:29:00 AM1/28/06
to
Stop making sense.

Joshua Halpern

unread,
Jan 29, 2006, 1:09:16 AM1/29/06
to
James Annan wrote:
> Joshua Halpern wrote:
>
>>>>Despite what our friends in the skeptics' community would have people
>>>>believe, the origins of the climatological community are deeply
>>>>conservative in personality and politics.
>>>
>>>The modern set doesn't seem that way to me. Maybe it has changed?
>>>
>>
>>Or maybe the situation has become more threatening?
>>
>
>
> I've heard people say that Hansen's forecast from 1990 or whenever
> turned out pretty good.
>
> Climate sensitivity was estimated to be 1.5-4.5C back in 1979.

And as has often been stated here the lower end is little problem and
the back end a huge problem


>
> What do you think has got more threatening since then, either in terms
> of climate science, or projections of economic/emissions growth? Or is
> it the impact of the climate change? It all seems very much as expected
> to me, although the scenarios are (on average) probably a little less
> alarming than they used to be, and reality is now clearly a little less
> alarming than the scenarios.

What we have lost is time. The useful analogy is that reversing current
trends is like turning a large ship around. The earlier you start the
easier it is not to ram into the bridge. You are offering me false
choices above.

> One plausible hypthothesis as to what has happened is that after a
> decade or two of inaction, and in the face of the dishonesty of the
> septics, some scientists have decided they need to redress the balance
> with a little bit of exaggeration and talking up of the threat - all
> with the best possible intentions, of course...

Or that people are worrying that much time has been lost. If you think
about it that is exactly Jim Hansen's point and the reason he is
advocating things like limiting CH4 and soot emissions, as easier things
to do in order to buy time.

josh halpern

James Annan

unread,
Jan 29, 2006, 2:39:29 AM1/29/06
to

Joshua Halpern wrote:

> James Annan wrote:
> > Climate sensitivity was estimated to be 1.5-4.5C back in 1979.
>
> And as has often been stated here the lower end is little problem and
> the back end a huge problem

Both ends are very unlikely. The real answer is close to 3C.

> >
> > What do you think has got more threatening since then, either in terms
> > of climate science, or projections of economic/emissions growth? Or is
> > it the impact of the climate change? It all seems very much as expected
> > to me, although the scenarios are (on average) probably a little less
> > alarming than they used to be, and reality is now clearly a little less
> > alarming than the scenarios.
>
> What we have lost is time.

Yes, we lose time at a rate of one year per year. While that is not a
trivial issue, I assumed that you meant something more threatening than
that. You might have noticed that many energy-efficient technologies
are being developed in any case. Eg, recently there seems to be a
movement to eliminate or improve "standby" buttons on consumer
electronics - which could knock ~10% off electricity consumption.
Obviously there are many more such no-brainers that should be
encouraged. I don't think it is helpful to either panic or stick one's
head in the sand, and it seems to me that arguing about some of the
climate details sometimes distracts from steps that people on all sides
(apart from a few extremists) can agree on in any case.

> Or that people are worrying that much time has been lost. If you think
> about it that is exactly Jim Hansen's point and the reason he is
> advocating things like limiting CH4 and soot emissions, as easier things
> to do in order to buy time.

Looks like we already cracked the methane problem :-) (OK, i realise it
might start to go up again)

James

w...@bas.ac.uk

unread,
Jan 29, 2006, 9:55:40 AM1/29/06
to
James Annan <still_th...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>Remember that to a first approximation, the uncertainty has no effect
>whatsoever. The expected value of 3, 3+-1 and 3+-6 are the same. It is
>only when there is substantial nonlinearity in the cost as a function
>of climate change that the uncertainty even enters the equation.

Ah well, maybe this is the crux of it. I've always assumed that it was
non-linear; and its implicit in mt's arguments.

-W

--
William M Connolley | w...@bas.ac.uk | http://www.antarctica.ac.uk/met/wmc/
Climate Modeller, British Antarctic Survey | Disclaimer: I speak for myself
I'm a .signature virus! copy me into your .signature file & help me spread!

Michael Tobis

unread,
Jan 29, 2006, 4:06:13 PM1/29/06
to

w...@bas.ac.uk wrote:
> James Annan <still_th...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> >Remember that to a first approximation, the uncertainty has no effect
> >whatsoever. The expected value of 3, 3+-1 and 3+-6 are the same. It is
> >only when there is substantial nonlinearity in the cost as a function
> >of climate change that the uncertainty even enters the equation.
>
> Ah well, maybe this is the crux of it. I've always assumed that it was
> non-linear; and its implicit in mt's arguments.

There is a use of "implicit" running around which actually means
"explicit", and in this sense WIlliam is correct. The non-linearity is
explicit and crucial in my arguments/

In thinking about it today, I have realized there is something implicit
in my point of view as expressed to date, and I'd like to make it
explicit here. That is that the error in the sensitivity of the model
seems to me intuitively distributed logarithmically rather than
linearly: current estimates of the coming perturbation would seem to me
to be roughly as likely to be triple the truth as one thrid of the
truth.

The possibility that the problem is three times as small (say in terms
of a temperature shift) as we think gets plenty of attention (if so, we
really are wasting a lot of angst and effort best expended elsewhere).
The possibility that it is three times larger gets much less. But the
pessimistic case is likely to be very much more than three times as
expensive.

The nonlinear cost seems to me obvious. If matters are a tenth as bad
as we think, we are hardly wasting more resources than if it is a third
as bad as we think. If matters are ten times as bad as we think (I am
not suggesting that they are) we are literally cooked.

So the case of a severe overestimation of the problem carries far less
risk than that of a severe underestimation. The latter should carry
much more weight both in our policy and in our investigations. The most
policy relevant thing we can do in climate science (presuming only that
policy were rational) is to find ways to constrain the sensitivity; to
look at the scary scenarios and do our best to convince ourselves that
they won't happen.

I think James believes that the error must be small, and concludes that
therefore the two nonlinearities (of both error and of cost) are
unimportant. I think if I shared his definition of the system under
study I might agree. However, there are a lot of relevant systems
outside the conventional realm of physcial oceanography and meteorology
that are in play that are much less well understood.

mt

Michael Tobis

unread,
Jan 29, 2006, 4:06:15 PM1/29/06
to

w...@bas.ac.uk wrote:
> James Annan <still_th...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> >Remember that to a first approximation, the uncertainty has no effect
> >whatsoever. The expected value of 3, 3+-1 and 3+-6 are the same. It is
> >only when there is substantial nonlinearity in the cost as a function
> >of climate change that the uncertainty even enters the equation.
>
> Ah well, maybe this is the crux of it. I've always assumed that it was
> non-linear; and its implicit in mt's arguments.

There is a use of "implicit" running around which actually means

Michael Tobis

unread,
Jan 29, 2006, 4:42:11 PM1/29/06
to
James Annan wrote:
> Michael Tobis wrote:
> > Yes, but some systems could just be starting to tip over, systems which
> > are essentially fixed boundary conditions under ordinary conditions.
>
> Ah, it's time for the "tipping point" metaphor. It's very poetic and
> carries a strong emotional impact of the vulnerable Earth, teetering on
> the cliff edge just waiting for a little (anthropogenic) perturbation
> to cause a catastrophe. But....

After a couple of years hanging around paleo peopple, I can assure you
that their use of the "tipping" concept didn't come from pop business
bestsellers. The concept is pervasive. Even the word "tippy" is used to
describe systems. It is clear that on the 100KA time scale there is
something very tippy about the climate system.

> Indeed, and some of the statements I've had a go at on my blog
> certainly fall into the latter category, IMO. There are plenty more I
> haven't bothered to mention, too.

I am sure there are alarmists out there who would irritate me, but
forgive me if that is insufficient to assuage my alarm.

> > Despite what our friends in the skeptics' community would have people
> > believe, the origins of the climatological community are deeply
> > conservative in personality and politics.
>
> The modern set doesn't seem that way to me. Maybe it has changed?

I concede the point, but the history of the shift is relevant. Did the
concern about anthropogenic climate change originate outside the
basically conservative culture?

> > I am suggesting that there may be a herd mentality within the community
> > rather as the skeptics suggest, except that there is no strong reason
> > to conclude in which direction it is biased.
>
> The publication bias of such as Nature certainly provides a strong bias
> in the debate, and I think it would be naive to think that this does
> not affect the perceptions even of the scientists themselves. Look at
> how some of them jumped at the "smoking gun" of Bryden's result, for
> example. At least there were some views on the other side in that case.
> I believe the debate in my own area of research is highly skewed in an
> alarmist direction, and I'm struggling to get a simple paper
> illustrating this through peer review because of a nit-picking referee
> who obviously feels strongly threatened by what I have to say. I don't
> think he can reasonably block it much longer, though.

I do not find this implausible. If true, I don't defend it.

Until further notice, science will be conducted by humans. The review
process is enormously fallible, and subdisciplines fall into ruts. All
we can hope for is that the process is self-correcting. That said, if
your paper is marginal for Nature, justifiably or otherwise, then you
can surely get it printed somewhere equally respected if slightly less
revered. Even preprints on the net can make a difference these days.

Please note that I *want* to be a non-alarmist, I'm just not one. Also
I look forward to reading about your work. Is there a preprint?

> No, you completely misunderstand (or perhaps misrepresent) my point.

I assure you that any misunderstanding is inadvertent.

> We
> can start doing sensible things that make sense anyway, without either
> panicking about how the end of the world is nigh, or sticking our head
> in the sand. Estimating a "safe stabilisation level" now in the face of
> so much uncertainty (not least in what "safe" means) is an interesting
> academic exercise but does little to address present needs.
>
> If 400ppm of CO2 is going to render the planet uninhabitable, then
> tough shit. In the long run we are all dead anyway, and there's nothing
> more to be said about it, because we _will_ go beyond 400ppm in another
> decade(ish). Fortunately, there is no reason to believe that 400ppm
> will destroy the planet,

Agreed

> or perhaps even do perceptible harm.

I think there is a bit of net perceptible harm already, so that's hard
to swallow. That there is gross perceptible harm is obvious in very low
lying areas and the Arctic.

> My point is not about the irreversibility or otherwise, but the
> implication that it carries a dire risk for the future of the planet.
> It is possible that some readers will not realise, so I'll point out
> that the loss of an ice sheet like Greenland will happen on the time
> scale of 1000 years if at all. 1000 years! Of course what matters about
> change is not the change itself, but the speed of the change.

If it turns out to be 100 rather than 1000, it wouldn't be an
astonishing error: we have very little information about an ice sheet
forced in this way. That would be one of the cases I'd like to see
proven implausible; an error in that direction would be enormously
problematic.

It's true that rate of change matters more than absolute change, but
that doesn't mean that absolute change matters not at all. In extremis,
if my behavior today contributes to a global mean temperature of 100C
some time in the future, I don't care how long the transition would
take. If it were ten years or a billion, I would prefer to change my
behavior than to boil the oceans.

> If you want to worry about something, worry about bird flu or the fact
> that we've eaten all the fish or more generally the fact that roughly
> half of all the world's renewable resources are currently consumed by
> humans. These things all matter, right now, and are not contingent on
> people being able to invent climate catastrophe theories more rapidly
> than they can be reasonably ruled out.

I don't see your point. If we can invent anthropogenic climate
catastrophe theories more rapidly than they can *reasonably* be ruled
out then we are behaving profoundly irresponsibly; whether or not the
other problems you allude to are also serious, or, for that matter,
related.

mt

Phil Hays

unread,
Jan 29, 2006, 5:58:06 PM1/29/06
to
"James Annan" wrote:

>Remember that to a first approximation, the uncertainty has no effect
>whatsoever. The expected value of 3, 3+-1 and 3+-6 are the same. It is
>only when there is substantial nonlinearity in the cost as a function
>of climate change that the uncertainty even enters the equation.

The concept of a climate sensitivity depends on the assumption of
linearity. Sure, the climate is linear for small scales, but it is
not linear for large enough scales. The same is true of other
processes that help to determine climate. The question is not if we
can predict the climate change for 360 ppm to 400 ppm to +-20% (or
whatever), but rather at what point does the climate become
non-linear, and by how much?

Non-linearity matters, as it is not just the total amount of climate
change, but also the speed of the climate change, that causes the
costs. If the climate warms by 6C over the next two hundred years, a
fairly good case can be made that civilization will survive, or
perhaps more correctly that climate change will not limit the survival
of civilization. On the other hand, 6C change, warming or cooling, in
the next decade would be, at minimum, very distressing. The slow
increase in forcing is likely to cause the first type of warming,
until we pass the trigger point for a non-linearity.

Climate models tell us what we already know about climate. They are a
way of expressing our current knowledge. Both current climate records
and paleoclimatology provide data to check climate models, and find
out what we don't know. The models do a reasonable job with the LGM
climate, and with the historical climate (the past century). The
models do not do a reasonable job with the Cretaceous climate, or with
the start of the "global snowball" episodes in the Neoproterozoic.
For background on the Neoproterozoic, see:

http://www-eps.harvard.edu/people/faculty/hoffman/snowball_paper.html


It is amusing to watch as the "skeptics" attack the IPCC, as the IPCC
is mainstream science, skeptical by outlook, trusting of GCMs that are
likely to miss non-linear aspects of climate due to paramatarized
physics. If the skeptics had any sense, they would be the supporters
of the IPCC.

There are several potential non-linearities. A short list might be
the Arctic climate, as suggested by the lack of agreement between
models of the Cretaceous and other warm periods, methane hydrates, the
likely source of the PETM, and WAIS.

For an example of a possible non-linearity in the whole system, let us
consider an ice sheet. Not Greenland, as it mostly on land above sea
level, and that makes it stable, and is very likely to just melt
slowly in place over at least hundreds of years, even in a much warmer
climate. To make it even more stable, Greenland below the ice has a
large, low altitude central plain mostly surrounded by coastal
mountains. You can't hope for ice to be much better contained. No,
let us look at West Antarctica.

http://www.radix.net/~bobg/faqs/sea.level.faq.html

West Antarctica's ice sheet is dynamically unstable, as it rests on
land far below sea level. Unlike Greenland, it will not all melt
slowly in place, but at some point during the melting will break up
into "bergy bits". To see this up close and personal on a small
scale, take a look at a receding marine glacier, in Alaska or
elsewhere. The hard part is predicting when and how fast this
happens.

If WAIS collapse happens over a few centuries it wouldn't be so
alarming. If it happened after much of the ice sheet had melted,
again it wouldn't be so alarming. But if it happened soon, and if it
happened over a few decades a WAIS collapse would be quite alarming.
Not only for the sea level increase. It is worth doing the
back-of-envelope calculations to work out what the climate forcing is
on a global basis for melting that much ice over (say) a decade.
Also, the melting ice would form a cold, fresh layer on the top of the
southern ocean that would likely extend sea ice far to the north, and
that would be a large additional climate forcing. In short, it would
get colder almost everywhere. Rainfall patterns would change. Crops
would fail in many locations worldwide, and not just one year, but
perhaps for a decade or more.

So why not just model WAIS? The problem is one of scale. Ice is very
complex. Much like trying to model faults and earthquakes.
Propagation of movement in very small areas may well decide between a
tiny slip in an area and the start of a complete collapse. How can
such a model ever be verified?

What about expert opinions? No one has observed the collapse of an
ice sheet anything even close to the scale of WAIS. How can anyone
truly be an expert on this?

So is there any other way to show stability of WAIS? One that I can
think of, and that is the fact of the existence of WAIS. Under a
climate that varied somewhat from 8KYA to 100 years ago, WAIS didn't
collapse. As long as the climate stays "close enough", then a
collapse is fairly unlikely.

A WAIS collapse isn't a recently "invented climate catastrophe
theory", it has been a topic for decades, at least since the early
1980's, as has the potential for a methane hydrate release. The lack
of agreement between climate models and warmer periods of geologic
history is somewhat more recent, maybe later 1980's. Are there any
new theories?


> We
>can start doing sensible things that make sense anyway, without either
>panicking about how the end of the world is nigh, or sticking our head
>in the sand.

Correct, and I agree this is what we should do, but we are not doing
the sensible things. Come to the USA and look at the mega-houses
being built and sold rapidly. And the monster SUVs, still selling,
but not as quickly.


Michael Tobis wrote:
>> Contrary to what you say, there is no strong theoretical or practical
>> reason to expect large shifts in geophysical systems to be reversible,
>> as far as I know. That being the case I not only disagree with what you
>> say, I fail to understand the vehemence with which you say it. Why are
>> you so sure there is no "time-bomb"?

>My point is not about the irreversibility or otherwise, but the
>implication that it carries a dire risk for the future of the planet.

The planet will continue to rotate and orbit the Sun long after humans
are gone. I'm far more interested in the future of humans, and of
civilization.


--
Phil Hays

Joshua Halpern

unread,
Jan 29, 2006, 11:54:50 PM1/29/06
to
James Annan wrote:
> Joshua Halpern wrote:
>
>>James Annan wrote:
>>
>>>Climate sensitivity was estimated to be 1.5-4.5C back in 1979.
>>
>>And as has often been stated here the lower end is little problem and
>>the back end a huge problem
>
> Both ends are very unlikely. The real answer is close to 3C.
>
Linear thinking in a non-linear world.

Please explain why one end or another of the range is more or less
likely than the middle.

>>>What do you think has got more threatening since then, either in terms
>>>of climate science, or projections of economic/emissions growth? Or is
>>>it the impact of the climate change? It all seems very much as expected
>>>to me, although the scenarios are (on average) probably a little less
>>>alarming than they used to be, and reality is now clearly a little less
>>>alarming than the scenarios.
>>
>>What we have lost is time.
>
> Yes, we lose time at a rate of one year per year.

Please stand back, the strawmen are coming through.

> While that is not a
> trivial issue, I assumed that you meant something more threatening than
> that. You might have noticed that many energy-efficient technologies
> are being developed in any case. Eg, recently there seems to be a
> movement to eliminate or improve "standby" buttons on consumer
> electronics - which could knock ~10% off electricity consumption.

I've heard of that movement for the last ~20 years.

> Obviously there are many more such no-brainers that should be
> encouraged. I don't think it is helpful to either panic or stick one's
> head in the sand, and it seems to me that arguing about some of the
> climate details sometimes distracts from steps that people on all sides
> (apart from a few extremists) can agree on in any case.

We've been talking about those here since 1995. Thank you for your
contribution.


>
>>Or that people are worrying that much time has been lost. If you think
>>about it that is exactly Jim Hansen's point and the reason he is
>>advocating things like limiting CH4 and soot emissions, as easier things
>>to do in order to buy time.
>
> Looks like we already cracked the methane problem :-) (OK, i realise it
> might start to go up again)
>

I doubt it, the stuff has become too valuable. We also did good things
about CFCs, but much more is needed.

josh halpern

James Annan

unread,
Jan 30, 2006, 2:24:13 AM1/30/06
to

Michael Tobis wrote:

> Until further notice, science will be conducted by humans. The review
> process is enormously fallible, and subdisciplines fall into ruts. All
> we can hope for is that the process is self-correcting. That said, if
> your paper is marginal for Nature, justifiably or otherwise, then you
> can surely get it printed somewhere equally respected if slightly less
> revered. Even preprints on the net can make a difference these days.
>
> Please note that I *want* to be a non-alarmist, I'm just not one. Also
> I look forward to reading about your work. Is there a preprint?

It's not at Nature - some junior editor decided it "wouldn't be
interesting to their readers", or some such boilerplate, despite (or
perhaps because of?) it essentially refuting everything they have
published on the subject over the last few years. I would like to give
it a bit more time through the standard process, but one way or another
it will be public in a month. I'm quite looking forward to seeing who
(if anyone) circles the waggons, and who accepts it as obviously valid
:-)

> I think there is a bit of net perceptible harm already, so that's hard
> to swallow. That there is gross perceptible harm is obvious in very low
> lying areas and the Arctic.

Where is the gross harm in these low-lying areas? There's certainly the
potential for harm in building cities on the coast below sea level and
not bothering to protect them against entirely predictable storm
surges, but that was only ever going to be a matter of when not if,
irrespective of global warming.


>
> It's true that rate of change matters more than absolute change, but
> that doesn't mean that absolute change matters not at all. In extremis,
> if my behavior today contributes to a global mean temperature of 100C
> some time in the future, I don't care how long the transition would
> take. If it were ten years or a billion, I would prefer to change my
> behavior than to boil the oceans.

I realise that you are only making a rhetorical point, but I think it's
unwise to use such obviously silly alarmist images as boiling the
oceans. If you can't find a realistic way of illustrating your point,
maybe there isn't one...

> I don't see your point. If we can invent anthropogenic climate
> catastrophe theories more rapidly than they can *reasonably* be ruled
> out then we are behaving profoundly irresponsibly;

...by inventing the catastrophe theories. Or is that not what you
meant?

I think it's also relevant to consider how profusely we can invent
catastrophe theories unrelated to climate change. While I do not think
that this in itself justiffies inaction on climate change, it does
provide a little perspective.

James

James Annan

unread,
Jan 30, 2006, 5:42:43 AM1/30/06
to
Michael Tobis wrote:

>
> The nonlinear cost seems to me obvious. If matters are a tenth as bad
> as we think, we are hardly wasting more resources than if it is a third
> as bad as we think. If matters are ten times as bad as we think (I am
> not suggesting that they are) we are literally cooked.

I agree that some nonlinearity would not be surprising, but what are you
talking about in terms of a tenth as bad, or ten times worse? We'll
not see 30C of warming in the next 100 years, that's for sure.


> So the case of a severe overestimation of the problem carries far less
> risk than that of a severe underestimation. The latter should carry
> much more weight both in our policy and in our investigations. The most
> policy relevant thing we can do in climate science (presuming only that
> policy were rational) is to find ways to constrain the sensitivity; to
> look at the scary scenarios and do our best to convince ourselves that
> they won't happen.


No, I think it is a more constructive approach to develop policies that
are robust with respect to uncertainties. Yohe, Andronova and
Schlesinger had an interesting paper on this in Science a few years ago
- there may be more recent stuff.

You can never really rule out things in a bayesian continuous world.
What probability level would you want to rule things out - 95%, or 99%,
or 99.9%? The latter two numbers probably can't be effectively
determined in any realistic case.

James Annan

unread,
Jan 30, 2006, 5:52:21 AM1/30/06
to
Michael Tobis wrote:

>
>>My point is not about the irreversibility or otherwise, but the
>>implication that it carries a dire risk for the future of the planet.
>>It is possible that some readers will not realise, so I'll point out
>>that the loss of an ice sheet like Greenland will happen on the time
>>scale of 1000 years if at all. 1000 years! Of course what matters about
>>change is not the change itself, but the speed of the change.
>
>
> If it turns out to be 100 rather than 1000, it wouldn't be an
> astonishing error: we have very little information about an ice sheet
> forced in this way. That would be one of the cases I'd like to see
> proven implausible; an error in that direction would be enormously
> problematic.

This is of course a textbook case of how much easier it is to invent a
climate catastrophe theory than to rule it out. You just imagined it,
and wrote it down. For me to convince you, or anyone else, of the
implausibility of this happening, I'd have to look into the dynamics of
ice sheets in general, and Greenland in particular. I'd have to look at
ablation rates and how they might change with temperature, and I'd have
to look at precipitation too. I'd almost certainly need to write some
numerical model, and even then you will only say "maybe the model is
unreliable". If you want 99% confidence, and especially if you are going
to be hostile to model output, it's going to impossible in practice to
convince you.

And yet this theory was never anything more than a figment of your
imagination to start with. If you can make up ~100 of them, then you
win, right? Cos even if I can get the probability down to the 1% level
for _all_ of them, there's only a 37% chance that _none_ of them happen,
and a 63% chance of disaster.

James Annan

unread,
Jan 30, 2006, 6:04:29 AM1/30/06
to
Joshua Halpern wrote:

> James Annan wrote:
>
>> Joshua Halpern wrote:
>>
>>> James Annan wrote:
>>>
>>>> Climate sensitivity was estimated to be 1.5-4.5C back in 1979.
>>>
>>>
>>> And as has often been stated here the lower end is little problem and
>>> the back end a huge problem
>>
>>
>> Both ends are very unlikely. The real answer is close to 3C.
>>
> Linear thinking in a non-linear world.
>
> Please explain why one end or another of the range is more or less
> likely than the middle.


Because just about every estimate is centred on about 3C. Maybe 3.5C to
be generous. Some are below 3.

Atheist 4 Bush (reformed)

unread,
Jan 30, 2006, 9:03:07 AM1/30/06
to
Joshua Halpern wrote:
> James Annan wrote:
>> Joshua Halpern wrote:
>>
>>> James Annan wrote:
>>>
>>>> Climate sensitivity was estimated to be 1.5-4.5C back in 1979.
>>>
>>> And as has often been stated here the lower end is little problem and
>>> the back end a huge problem
>>
>> Both ends are very unlikely. The real answer is close to 3C.
>>
> Linear thinking in a non-linear world.
>
> Please explain why one end or another of the range is more or less
> likely than the middle.

Because the model results yielding the range are
not of a normal distribution,
but are strongly skewed toward the low end.

The actual average is 2.2C.

Michaels 'Meltdown' cites Schneider, Nature, 2001.

Atheist 4 Bush (reformed)

unread,
Jan 30, 2006, 9:12:55 AM1/30/06
to
Joshua Halpern wrote:
> I doubt it, the stuff has become too valuable.

When the value of CH4 increases, perhaps we'll
be more careful with it and let
less of it wander into the atmosphere.

> We also did good things
> about CFCs, but much more is needed.

Seems like CO2 is the only game left in town:

http://www.pnas.org/content/vol98/issue26/images/large/pq2615536004.jpeg

w...@bas.ac.uk

unread,
Jan 30, 2006, 12:47:04 PM1/30/06
to
Michael Tobis <mto...@gmail.com> wrote:
>After a couple of years hanging around paleo peopple, I can assure you
>that their use of the "tipping" concept didn't come from pop business
>bestsellers. The concept is pervasive. Even the word "tippy" is used to
>describe systems. It is clear that on the 100KA time scale there is
>something very tippy about the climate system.

I think this may be correct in what you say; but that it probably
more reflects a viewpoint of the palaeo people, who spend a lot of
time on D-O events, than it does of the climate people looking at the
future (and indeed, of the models they are looking at).

A case in point is "Climate Crash" (Cox?) which does its best to
project past onto future in a very dubious way.

-W.

w...@bas.ac.uk

unread,
Jan 30, 2006, 12:48:43 PM1/30/06
to
James Annan <still_th...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>It's not at Nature - some junior editor decided it "wouldn't be
>interesting to their readers", or some such boilerplate, despite (or
>perhaps because of?) it essentially refuting everything they have
>published on the subject over the last few years.

James... you didn't study

http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2006/01/16/science/20060117_FRAD_GRAPHIC.html

carefully enough!

Michael Tobis

unread,
Jan 30, 2006, 3:05:29 PM1/30/06
to
> I think this may be correct in what you say; but that it probably
> more reflects a viewpoint of the palaeo people, who spend a lot of
> time on D-O events, than it does of the climate people looking at the
> future (and indeed, of the models they are looking at).

While we may be uncovering an interesting subcultural difference here,
I must insist that the paleo people I know think about the future a
lot; as much as do the other climatologists I know.

The main difference in attitude between paleo people and climatologists
more related to a meteorological tradition seems to be that there isn't
an abrupt event horizon in the latter group's thinking at 2100, which
is not when things settle down, but rather when they start to get
really interesting.

The atmosphere has a much shorter memory than the ocean or the ice,
though. I suspect that people from a more meteorological tradition may
be less tuned in to the very peculiar and poorly understood shifts in
the climate that have been especially common for the last 600 K years
and especially rare in the last 6 K years.

Even without human interference we live in an extraordinary period in
the earth's climate. There is no strong reason to expect the stability
of the past 6000 years to continue even without our insistent rocking
of the boat.

I should qualify that by admitting that continental and continental
shelf glaciers seem to play an active role in the instability, and we
have less of them around than we did during most of the past. On the
other hand, we aren't fresh out of ice yet, and then there are still
some clathrates around too waiting to help us in our efforts to mess
things up.

mt

Joshua Halpern

unread,
Jan 30, 2006, 11:08:27 PM1/30/06
to
James Annan wrote:
> Joshua Halpern wrote:
>> James Annan wrote:
>>> Joshua Halpern wrote:
>>>> James Annan wrote:
>>>>
>>>>> Climate sensitivity was estimated to be 1.5-4.5C back in 1979.
>>>>
>>>> And as has often been stated here the lower end is little problem and
>>>> the back end a huge problem
>>>
>>> Both ends are very unlikely. The real answer is close to 3C.
>>>
>> Linear thinking in a non-linear world.
>>
>> Please explain why one end or another of the range is more or less
>> likely than the middle.
>
> Because just about every estimate is centred on about 3C. Maybe 3.5C to
> be generous. Some are below 3.

Some are above 3.5. Come on James, you know better than to play such
games. You are asserting that the TAR was wrong to assert that all
possibilities were equally likely. In otherwords you are signing on to
ensemble averaging. In making this assumption you are implicitly
signing on to a linear average.

josh halpern

James Annan

unread,
Jan 31, 2006, 12:02:17 AM1/31/06
to

Joshua Halpern wrote:

> Some are above 3.5. Come on James, you know better than to play such
> games. You are asserting that the TAR was wrong to assert that all
> possibilities were equally likely.

Firstly, the TAR asserted no such thing - it merely gave a "likely"
range, with no hint as to the shape of the distribution (Wigley and
Raper explicitly investigated 2 alternatives). Secondly, a lot has
happened since then.

> In otherwords you are signing on to
> ensemble averaging. In making this assumption you are implicitly
> signing on to a linear average.

I can't make much sense out of that. But whatever, I think it is
well-established that a value towards the middle of the range is more
likely than one near the edges. I look forward with interest to seeing
how explicitly the AR4 discusses this issue. (OK, disclaimer time, I've
seen - and commented on - several chapters of the 1st draft.)

James

Phil Hays

unread,
Jan 31, 2006, 2:20:20 AM1/31/06
to
"James Annan" wrote:

>> > Climate sensitivity was estimated to be 1.5-4.5C back in 1979.

>Both ends are very unlikely. The real answer is close to 3C.

Only if you "cheat", as you once pointed out to me. If you don't
cheat, the answer is larger.


--
Phil Hays

James Annan

unread,
Jan 31, 2006, 2:36:24 AM1/31/06
to

A quick google for "cheat" in my postings only finds two irrelevant
hits, so could you be more specific?

It is quite possible that my views have changed since then, depending
what you are referring to.

James

Phil Hays

unread,
Jan 31, 2006, 3:32:34 AM1/31/06
to

Email.

And please feel free to clarify your views.


--
Phil Hays

w...@bas.ac.uk

unread,
Jan 31, 2006, 4:51:03 AM1/31/06
to
James Annan <still_th...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>Joshua Halpern wrote:

>> Some are above 3.5. Come on James, you know better than to play such
>> games. You are asserting that the TAR was wrong to assert that all
>> possibilities were equally likely.

>Firstly, the TAR asserted no such thing - it merely gave a "likely"
>range, with no hint as to the shape of the distribution (Wigley and
>Raper explicitly investigated 2 alternatives). Secondly, a lot has
>happened since then.

Is this a confusion between the SRES - which did have such a disclaimer -
and the T curves, which don't?

w...@bas.ac.uk

unread,
Jan 31, 2006, 4:54:32 AM1/31/06
to
>mt:
>>wmc:

>> I think this may be correct in what you say; but that it probably
>> more reflects a viewpoint of the palaeo people, who spend a lot of
>> time on D-O events, than it does of the climate people looking at the
>> future (and indeed, of the models they are looking at).

>While we may be uncovering an interesting subcultural difference here,
>I must insist that the paleo people I know think about the future a
>lot; as much as do the other climatologists I know.

>The main difference in attitude between paleo people and climatologists
>more related to a meteorological tradition seems to be that there isn't
>an abrupt event horizon in the latter group's thinking at 2100, which
>is not when things settle down, but rather when they start to get
>really interesting.

OK, horizon at 2100 is a fair point; nonetheless...

>The atmosphere has a much shorter memory than the ocean or the ice,
>though. I suspect that people from a more meteorological tradition may
>be less tuned in to the very peculiar and poorly understood shifts in
>the climate that have been especially common for the last 600 K years
>and especially rare in the last 6 K years.

Here I begin to disagree. The really good evidence for these shifts is
from GRIP/GISP for the last glacial. Initial evidence for them in the
last interglacial is now known to be wrong (one of my beefs against
Climate Crash is the apparently deliberate blurring of this info).

[Added on re-post] Thinking about it, most D-O type evidence is from
GRIP/GISP and thus doesn't extend back into the last-but-one glacial
or further; when I last looked, evidence from Vostok (EPICA?) was weak
(but I'd be interested to know more), so I'm not sure about your 600k.

>Even without human interference we live in an extraordinary period in
>the earth's climate. There is no strong reason to expect the stability
>of the past 6000 years to continue even without our insistent rocking
>of the boat.

Now I really disagree. Before doing so too violently, I'll be interested
in what you are ref'ing. AFAIK there is no evidence for D-O type
stuff in interglacials, barring unusual events like the 8.2 kyr event
(what happened 6 kyr ago?) which is almost without a doubt connected
to Lake Agassiz, and is therefore essentially a Laurentide-ice-sheet type
event.

So as far as I can see, the available evidence is for no jumps in the
(warming) future.

>other hand, we aren't fresh out of ice yet, and then there are still
>some clathrates around too waiting to help us in our efforts to mess
>things up.

Clathrates, yes (as a possibility). But thats a different mechanism, and
not what we've seen in the last glacial.

See-also http://mustelid.blogspot.com/2005/06/climate-is-stable-in-absence-of.html

Alastair McDonald

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Jan 31, 2006, 4:34:52 AM1/31/06
to

"James Annan" <still_th...@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:4468lg...@individual.net...

> Michael Tobis wrote:
>
> >
> > The nonlinear cost seems to me obvious. If matters are a tenth as bad
> > as we think, we are hardly wasting more resources than if it is a third
> > as bad as we think. If matters are ten times as bad as we think (I am
> > not suggesting that they are) we are literally cooked.
>
> I agree that some nonlinearity would not be surprising, but what are you
> talking about in terms of a tenth as bad, or ten times worse? We'll
> not see 30C of warming in the next 100 years, that's for sure.

But we could see a 3C in the next 10 years, especially in the Arctic.

Cheers, Alastair.


Alastair McDonald

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Jan 31, 2006, 5:19:51 AM1/31/06
to

"Phil Hays" <Spampos...@comcast.net> wrote in message
news:na4nt1ld0blgb4hrp...@4ax.com...

As James Lovelock said here, the scientific community is now very specialised
and the scientists from different communities do not communicate -
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/factual/starttheweek.shtml

For instance, if the Greenland ice melts then sea levels will rise by 7m. But
the Antarctic scientists seem to be unawre of the consequences which will be
to raise the WAIS shelves by 7m breaking them off. The grounding lines of the
ice sheets behind will also be forced back by 7m multiplied by the gradient.
This will reduce the normal force because the weight of the ice sheet will
then be taken by the oceans. The change in the normal force will reduce the
frictional force allow the the ice sheet to accelerate into the sea.

It only requires a top down view of the system, rather than the currently
fashionable bottom up reductionist view, to see that catastrophies are just
around the corner.

> A WAIS collapse isn't a recently "invented climate catastrophe
> theory", it has been a topic for decades, at least since the early
> 1980's, as has the potential for a methane hydrate release. The lack
> of agreement between climate models and warmer periods of geologic
> history is somewhat more recent, maybe later 1980's. Are there any
> new theories?

Well, there's one.

Cheers, Alastair.


James Annan

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Jan 31, 2006, 5:46:12 AM1/31/06
to
Phil Hays wrote:

> "James Annan" wrote:
>
>>Phil Hays wrote:
>>
>>>"James Annan" wrote:
>
>
>>>>>>Climate sensitivity was estimated to be 1.5-4.5C back in 1979.
>>>>
>>>>Both ends are very unlikely. The real answer is close to 3C.
>
>
>>>Only if you "cheat", as you once pointed out to me. If you don't
>>>cheat, the answer is larger.
>
>
>>A quick google for "cheat" in my postings only finds two irrelevant
>>hits, so could you be more specific?
>>
>>It is quite possible that my views have changed since then, depending
>>what you are referring to.
>
>
> Email.

Do you mean you've emailed me details (nothing has arrived), or that you
want me to email you, or that I originally said something in an email?


>
> And please feel free to clarify your views.
>

I think the quote above pretty much covers it. What else would you like
to know?

Alastair McDonald

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Jan 31, 2006, 9:36:11 AM1/31/06
to
"James Annan" <still_th...@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:1138520369.4...@g47g2000cwa.googlegroups.com...

>
> Joshua Halpern wrote:
> > James Annan wrote:
> > > Climate sensitivity was estimated to be 1.5-4.5C back in 1979.
> >
> > And as has often been stated here the lower end is little problem and
> > the back end a huge problem
>
> Both ends are very unlikely. The real answer is close to 3C.

Both ends are equally likely with 3C. Since many of the models copy
each other, it is no surprise that they give the same result, but it does
not mean that they are correct. Only that the modellers are using the
same parameters. 3C is only the average of the parameters used.

> >
> > What we have lost is time.
>
> Yes, we lose time at a rate of one year per year.

No, we lose at two years per year! One year is lost by delay, and
the other because we have increased the damage.

When are you going to face up to the truth, and stop trying to
spin the facts to make them fit your Pollyannaic universe?

Cheers, Alastair.


Phil Hays

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Jan 31, 2006, 11:12:55 AM1/31/06