How the debate on climate change went wrong, and how we can turn it around


9:30 am - June 10th 2013

by Leo Barasi    


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The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will be out from September this year. This should be a big deal: it’s six years since the last report, and that was headline news at the time. The report will be a chance for climate change, and what we do about it, to be one of the top issues in public debate for the first time since the 2009 Copenhagen Conference.

But for climate campaigners, activists and anyone who wants better action on climate change, what should be done with this opportunity? I believe it would be a mistake to use the coverage of the report to try to score points in the same arguments that have dominated over the last few years.

Instead, there are other approaches that could reach a wider audience, move the debate past recurring arguments, and perhaps create a basis for more useful action on climate change.

We need to stop talking about climate denial

The problem, as I see it, is that much of the debate about climate change is dominated by whether or not it’s happening, how quickly it will happen, and the meta-debate about why ‘so many people’ don’t agree with the vast majority of climate scientists.

One reason this is a problem was explained by US Republican pollster Frank Luntz: he recognised the goal for opponents of government action on climate change should be “to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate”. So long as the debate is about the science of climate change – most people only hear that there is a debate, not what each side is saying – people aren’t talking about what to do about it.

But you might respond: how can we ask people to agree to action on climate change when they don’t believe it’s happening or caused by humans? It’s a logical question. But the polling shows that it’s a mistake to assume there’s a logical chain of reasoning. In fact, the debate about belief in climate change is based on two misconceptions: that people are widely and increasingly sceptical about climate change, and that their desire for action to tackle climate change depends on the extent to which they think it’s happening.

Because of these misconceptions, I think that the debate about whether or not climate change is happening is a distraction for people who care about climate change, and that we should change the subject.

The evidence is pretty clear that agreement with climate science is high and stable and that doubts about it are not increasing. The following chart is typical in showing that the same proportion now believes that climate change is real and manmade as did so before the UEA email hack. Most people think it’s real and manmade and a third think it’s real but natural; barely one person in 20 thinks it’s a fraud.

Agreement with climate science also fell before the start of the chart above, after a peak sometime around 2006 and the Stern Report.

But the polls suggest that what people say about their belief in climate change doesn’t have much to do with whether they want action to tackle it.

It’s such an important point I’m going to show two separate charts to demonstrate it.

Firstly, a poll just after Copenhagen showed that most people who said they think climate change is natural, or not happening at all, were satisfied with a plan to reduce worldwide emissions. To put it another way, over three in five ‘climate sceptics’ want international action to tackle climate change:

Just in case that was a freak or a mistake, we tested it again in the recent Carbon Brief poll. The conclusion was similar: of those who say climate change is natural and not caused by humans, nearly half want government action to tackle it.

So the evidence is clear. Outright climate denial is low and not increasing. Most people think climate change is real and manmade. And of those who think it’s natural or not happening, many still want government action to tackle it: a logical disconnect that suggests the debate about belief in climate change has been taken more seriously than it deserves. As Chris Rose has pointed out, responses to questions about belief in climate change are often about something else – a declaration of which ‘side’ the respondent is on. It’s not a debate that climate campaigners can win in its own terms.

The question is, if not scientists’ confidence about anthropogenic climate change, what should campaigners and communicators talk about?

Stick them with the pointy end

There are two key arguments that I believe are crucial for improving the case for better action on climate change – but which I don’t see being made at the moment. The first is that climate change is very likely to hurt people in the UK: people alive now and their children. Not just through indirect effects like more expensive food and foreign political instability, but also directly, through flooding and killer heatwaves.

There are people who’ll suffer more from climate change than Brits: people living on flood plains in Bangladesh, in low-lying islands, and in the Sahel, for example. And many wonderful species will become extinct when their habitat changes. Almost everyone is sad to hear about that and agrees that someone should do something. A few internationalists and conservationists might even do something themselves.

But nothing mobilises people like something that directly affects them and their family.

The pointy end of climate change – that the UK is very likely to face more floods and more killer heatwaves – is still largely absent from the debate. It shouldn’t be. The 2003 heatwave killed 2,000 people in the UK; it is likely that summers like that will be the norm by the end of this century. But only 34% in the Carbon Brief poll recognised that climate change is likely to cause more UK summer heatwaves.

This should include a ban among climate campaigners on references to global degrees of warming in conversations with anyone except climate change experts. The thought of the UK becoming 3° warmer sounds quite nice to me. You have to be familiar with the subject to understand what 3° means in practice: much wider variations in temperature and rainfall, with flooding and some summer days that are unbearably hot (yes, in the UK).

Essentially, what I suggest is that climate campaigners follow the example of this road safety film. Don’t just make the message about our responsibility to others, make it about what will happen to us if we don’t put it right:

We’re all in this together

The other argument that’s still missing is the one tackling the view that we shouldn’t make sacrifices for climate change because it would disadvantage us against other countries that aren’t doing the same, particularly China. It usually follows the structure: “why should we do X when China will just build Y power stations in the next week/month/year?”.

But the argument is much easier to rebut. It’s not true that rapidly growing countries like China are leaving the hard work on climate change to developed countries. China may be the world’s biggest emitter (though per person its emissions are still lower than the EU’s when including international transport and/or emissions from production of exported goods), but even as it industrialises it’s now using trading schemes to make it more expensive for its businesses to emit greenhouse gases.

So it shouldn’t be hard to knock back the argument that taking action on climate change puts us at a global disadvantage – and that’s before we start talking about the potential economic benefits of investing in low-carbon industries.

Change the subject

The debate about climate change has stagnated over the last three and a half years, stuck on belief in climate science. But that debate is based both on a dubious claim that scepticism is increasing and on the understandable but misplaced assumption that there’s a logical connection between belief in climate change and desire for action to tackle it.

The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report will be an opportunity for people who want action on climate change to get it back into the news and to start talking about something that feels meaningful for most people*. Partly this means neutralising the out-of-date criticism that it’s pointless for the UK to make sacrifices to reduce climate change when other countries aren’t doing the same.

But more important is to make the case that tackling climate change is a matter of self-interest for British people. This means recognising that most people are, naturally, more interested in what happens to themselves and their family than what happens to far-off people. The projected impacts of climate change for the UK – floods and killer heatwaves – are themselves serious enough to justify action: it’s time to start talking about them.

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About the author
Leo is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He manages communications for a small policy organisation, and writes about polling and info from public opinion surveys at Noise of the Crowd
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Reader comments


Focus on pollution. No one likes breathing in smog after all or swimming in seas choked with rubbish. It’s somewhat harder to argue about natural cooling cycles when what you’re pointing at as a problem that needs tackling just happens to largely localise in busy city centres and industrial areas. Argue for a cleaner, brighter future, tales of doom and gloom don’t tend to be that effective when you have a well funded lobby telling everyone that there’s nothing at all to be worried about.

This is a strong argument, but someone needs to be working to expose the people behind the liars such as Lawson.

3. Baton Rouge

The debate about climate change has been won. Only UKIP style conspiracy theory nutters bother to deny that releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere leads to global warming. It is not even difficult science. The ex-deniers are more likely to argue nowadays that it is possible to live with global warming and adapt to it. We can’t and one way to take charge of that debate would be to stop calling it climate change and start calling it what it really is: Human Sustaining Climate Destruction.

We need to argue for three things: an end to profligacy in the use of energy, the replacement of fossile fuels with renewables (they must not be seen as an addition to the energy we currently consum) and an industrial scale operation to re-capture and bury the carbon we have already released which can only be done by massive global re-forestation.

4. Robin Levett

@Baton Rouge #3:

Only UKIP style conspiracy theory nutters bother to deny that releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere leads to global warming. It is not even difficult science. The ex-deniers are more likely to argue nowadays that it is possible to live with global warming and adapt to it.

You’re not from around these parts, are you…

5. So Much For Subtlety

1. Cylux

Focus on pollution.

But pollution and CO2 have little to do with each other. And pollution is well suited to being dealt with by national market systems. Which does not suit the radicals who want a Stalinist-style international political economy.

Cherub

This is a strong argument, but someone needs to be working to expose the people behind the liars such as Lawson.

Uh huh.

Baton Rouge

The debate about climate change has been won. Only UKIP style conspiracy theory nutters bother to deny that releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere leads to global warming. It is not even difficult science. The ex-deniers are more likely to argue nowadays that it is possible to live with global warming and adapt to it. We can’t and one way to take charge of that debate would be to stop calling it climate change and start calling it what it really is: Human Sustaining Climate Destruction.

I agree the debate has been won. You lost. No one still believes in Man-made Global Warming. There is no proof that releasing CO2 into the atmosphere causes warming – the environment is not a test tube and what applies in the simplistic world clearly does not apply in the real world in the same way.

But the main point is you have no idea if it is possible to live with warming or not. You hope it is not. But we do not know. Nor do you know that we are destroying the climate. Hard to do that of course.

We need to argue for three things: an end to profligacy in the use of energy, the replacement of fossile fuels with renewables (they must not be seen as an addition to the energy we currently consum) and an industrial scale operation to re-capture and bury the carbon we have already released which can only be done by massive global re-forestation.

Well the good news is that the increased CO2 is working as a fertilizer and increasing plant growth all over the planet. So we are doing that already. Renewables cannot replace fossil fuels. Nor should we try.

6. Robin Levett

Right on cue, SMFS.

7. Baton Rouge

So first you deny that it is happening and then you say anyway even if it is we can’t know that it is bad and in any case it is actually acting as a natural fertiliser. Which one is it loony tunes?

8. Robin Levett

@SMFS #5:

Passing over your standard attribution of intelligence to individual CO2 molecules; or at least of the ability to tell whether they are in a test-tube or in the atmosphere at large…

Well the good news is that the increased CO2 is working as a fertilizer and increasing plant growth all over the planet.

Not true. Where the limiting factor is CO2, you are correct (at least so far as C3 plants are concerned). Where the limiting factor is nitrogen fixation, water, sunlight etc etc etc, you are not. No amount of increased CO2 will make deserts bloom.

The increased temperatures caused by increased CO2 will in many cases increase heat stress and reduce moisture available, which is not good news for plants. Increased CO2 will also, via plant physiological responses which reduce transpiration under elevated CO2 conditions, increase the effects of heat stress on many species.

Of course, so far as food plants go, increased growth caused by increased CO2 leads to reductions in nutrient content; all you add is bulk, not nutrients. This applies both to wheat and to rice.

Increased CO2 concentrations reduce the production of defensive chemicals in some plants, such as Soya; and increase the production of cyanide in cyanogenic species.

So it is extremely questionable at best whether the effects on plants of elevated CO2 levels are, overall, beneficial. They will certainly be disruptive of ecosystems.

Renewables cannot replace fossil fuels. Nor should we try.

You are aware that fossil fuels aren’t being created at anything like the rate at which they are being depleted, aren’t you?

@ Robin Levitt

So tell me….assuming the atmosphere is at 400ppm C02 (roughly correct) why do commercial greenhouses run at anywhere between 1600 and 2500ppm C02 to promote plant growth?

C02 capture is the most energy intensive part of plant growth, and higher concentrations massively enables it.

I did spend some time during my Master’s year (in Physics) looking at AGW type stuff. What struck me more than anything is that the focus for modelling AGW is stuck firmly on C02 not because it is the most dangerous greenhouse gas, or even an effetive one (it’s rubbish) but because it is easy to measure and model. It’s simply to measure atmospheric concentrations, and C02 concentrations are fairly evenly distributed through the atmosphere.

This makes it easier to model on climate change models and the supercomputers that run them, and tie the change in C02 levels back to temperature change.

What is near impossible to model, even on today’s supercomputers, are variables like water vapour (which I dare anyone to call a dangerous greenhouse gas) which are unevenly distributed in the atmosphere and whose concentrations are *always* changing.

So the focus has been on C02, when franky the other variables are often ignored, and the feedback loops are poorly understood at best.

You are aware that fossil fuels aren’t being created at anything like the rate at which they are being depleted, aren’t you?

Perhaps he’s a creationist and doesn’t quite grasp the consequences of the ‘fossil’ part of ‘fossil fuels’.

I was about to point out that many people are capable of sufficiently contradictory thinking to believe that it’s not happening AND that it’s happening because of natural causes, when up pops the usual troll.

I’ve said it before, but climate change deniers are trying to apply the old four-stage strategy for avoiding action without grasping that the stages are meant to be successive, because each one involves admitting the previous one was wrong. They argue _all four at the same time_ and don’t even notice that they’re contradicting themselves.

1) Nothing is happening.
2) Something is happening that we should do nothing about.
3) We should do something about it, but we can’t.
4) We could have done something, but it’s too late now.

Here’s what has sunk the proponents of catastrophic climate change – that the islands _havent_ sunk. Tuvalu is still above water despite alarmist predictions that by now it would be below the waves. People grasp the basic scientific methodology that a theory is refuted when its predictions don’t happen. QED.

I’m sure some of the commenters here are Ricky Gervais inventions trialling for a new show. The self-parody is so unsubtle.

14. Charlieman

@OP, Leo Barasi: “There are people who’ll suffer more from climate change than Brits: people living on flood plains in Bangladesh, in low-lying islands, and in the Sahel, for example. And many wonderful species will become extinct when their habitat changes. Almost everyone is sad to hear about that and agrees that someone should do something. A few internationalists and conservationists might even do something themselves.

But nothing mobilises people like something that directly affects them and their family.”

I’m not comfortable with that argument. Loss of habitat, for humans or other species, is something that people easily comprehend. People understand from reports about conservation exercises that the effects of habitat loss can be mitigated. It should not be a side debate for a “few internationalists and conservationists”.

Where we are now, taxes raised on carbon fuel consumption go into the general tax purse or to subsidise alternative energy schemes (which may or may not be useful). A snide argument is that carbon taxes pay for middle class westerners to salve their consumerist consciences by spending money on devices which do not produce a net CO2 reduction.

Why isn’t there a chest of international money to cover humanitarian crises that result from global warming? Where is the pot to fund research by biologists and zoologists and *ologists?

Thankfully, there has not yet been a climate change event that creates major habitat loss. But we’ll be screwed up when it does happen.

15. Man on Clapham Omnibus

The notion that there is a debate to be had and once concluded will result in action is ,I find, misreading the reality of energy, the power of the energy (oil) providers and their relationship to the state.

We have already seen the US declare war on Afganistan and Iraq in order to maintain its long term reserves. Furthmore the US has for a long time meddled in the various oil rich or strategic ‘stans to the north
in order to engineer supportive administration with regard to mineral extraction. This has been matched by the numerous US bases growing up throughout the region which will undoubtedly be used to protect the ‘oil investments’.

Add to that the revelations regarding surveillance and the transition of capitalist state to that of a security state I think your notions that ‘we’ can alter the very considerable trajectory towards fossil fuel extraction in the forseeable future are very weak.

@Robin Levett, 1:28 pm, June 10.

bla bla bla No amount of increased CO2 will make deserts bloom bla bla

Hmm, the peer reviewed literature seems to disagree with you:

“CO2 fertilisation has increased maximum foliage cover across the globe’s warm, arid environments.”
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/grl.50563/abstract

17. Man on Clapham Omnibus

10. Cylux

well you clearly dont.

18. Man on Clapham Omnibus

16. John

Have you read the whole article?

19. thoughtful

Have you considered that there might be growing revulsion against the troughing of prominent people who stand to benefit financially from influencing Government policies re carbon-mitigation policies – Cameron’s father-in-law, Lord Deben, Yeo? Electricity and gas bills rise so that these guys can prosper, in the name of “saving the planet”. Just consider the economics of putting solar panels on your roof….the peak months of supply will be July and August, when electricity usage is at a low in this country. So we all pay a feed-in tariff to the subsidy-leeches for power we cannot use and cannot store.

20. Matthew Lockwood

‘The evidence is pretty clear that agreement with climate science is high and stable and that doubts about it are not increasing.’
well, not all the evidence – for example the YouGov repeat surveys tell a different story – see http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/7222
Making the floods and heatwaves argument might work, but I am a bit dooubtful – 2,000 excess deaths from heatwaves…this is about teh same number who die every year in traffic accidents, but people don’t propose stopping tyhe use of cars. Same on flooding – people notice large scale flooding, but the numbers affected are still small compared with the country as a whole.
most of all, flooded people and those who might be affacted by heatwaves are not politically organised.
more likely, the unwillingness of the insurance industry to cover homes and the unwillingness of teh government to underwrite that cover may force a crisis

21. Radical Rodent

Once more, the “deniers”! What’s with it with you people? Most of those you scornfully label “denier” are not denying anything – they are just sceptical about the rather pat (and increasingly discredited) idea of climate change being brought about by just one element of the atmosphere.

Climates change. Climates have changed continuously for over 4 billion years – a long time before humans were even thought of. What caused the changes in the past? This is still being studied, and a vast amount of information is still needed to be able to establish that. What is causing the change now? This is still being studied, and a vast amount of information is still needed to be able to establish that.

I am not sure whether you realise this, but the atmosphere of Earth is pretty big – perhaps it’s a lot bigger than you can actually imagine – and we can only get data from a tiny, tiny proportion of it. We don’t even know if the data is the sort that will give us better clues as to what is happening; all we can do is collect, collate, and analyse.

My money’s on it being the Sun – after all, it is the Sun that is causing the climate; without the Sun, Earth would be just an icy rock. The energy received from the Sun is so immense that a barely perceptible fluctuation could be enough to have a noticeable effect. Other factors will be there, of course, but the Sun looks to be the main culprit.

You should actually be glad that the Earth has warmed since the little ice age; I am sure you would agree that the UK is better with being warmer than it was then. Okay, so there are no more frost fairs on the Thames, but I am sure you can live with that. Whether it will be better for being a bit warmer yet, I have no idea; however, as it will increase the productive area of land surface, the probability is that it will be a good thing.

Makhno, you talk about the “deniers” believing four incompatible things at once – what about the AGWists, who believe that warming causes cold weather, and the increasing evaporation from the sea causes floods and droughts!

22. So Much For Subtlety

6. Robin Levett

Right on cue, SMFS.

I try to be reliable, but I have to say it is a struggle to find the motivation these days. It is just not a big issue any more.

Baton Rouge

So first you deny that it is happening and then you say anyway even if it is we can’t know that it is bad and in any case it is actually acting as a natural fertiliser. Which one is it loony tunes?

None of those contradicts themselves. I do deny it is happening, but the main point is what you do know and what you don’t. You are claiming to know things you do not. You are hoping they are true. There are issues to do with MMGW that are matters of fact (very few of them actually), there are matters of opinion and there are matters of fraud. You should not confuse the first two.

Robin Levett

Passing over your standard attribution of intelligence to individual CO2 molecules; or at least of the ability to tell whether they are in a test-tube or in the atmosphere at large…

Way to go with a lie right out of the gate Robin. I am impressed. It usually takes you a paragraph or two to come up with something this dishonest.

Not true. Where the limiting factor is CO2, you are correct (at least so far as C3 plants are concerned). Where the limiting factor is nitrogen fixation, water, sunlight etc etc etc, you are not. No amount of increased CO2 will make deserts bloom.

That is a nice way of combining something that is true with something I did not say. It is a strawman. Let us agree that where there is some other limiting factor, you will not get growth. It is irrelevant. Now would you like to actually deal with the subject at hand? It is not even as if your choice of deserts is a good one:

http://www.livescience.com/37055-greenhouse-gas-desert-plants-growing.html

“Between 1982 and 2010, leaf cover on plants rose by 11 percent in arid areas, including the southwestern United States, Australia’s Outback, the Middle East and some parts of Africa, the study found. The results were published May 15 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.”

The increased temperatures caused by increased CO2 will in many cases increase heat stress and reduce moisture available, which is not good news for plants. Increased CO2 will also, via plant physiological responses which reduce transpiration under elevated CO2 conditions, increase the effects of heat stress on many species.

In many cases? You don’t know which or whether or not this is true. Like so many you are confusing what you hope is true with what we know is true. What we know is that so far increased CO2 means increased plant growth. Even in deserts. Now it may also mean that this will be offset by other effects, but we do not know it will. After all, the planet is not warming. But hope away.

And congratulations by the way. For discovering that you too think that CO2 molecules have intelligence and behave differently in the real world than they do in the lab. Or as I would put it, that the real world is far more complex than the testtube and other factors in the environment will interact with any laboratory theory to produce an uncertain outcome.

Of course, so far as food plants go, increased growth caused by increased CO2 leads to reductions in nutrient content; all you add is bulk, not nutrients. This applies both to wheat and to rice.

Yeah but even if I accepted this nonsense, it does not matter as we want the CO2 removed from the atmosphere. Which that bulk does.

You are aware that fossil fuels aren’t being created at anything like the rate at which they are being depleted, aren’t you?

Rumour has it. But I note that recoverable deposits of fossil fuels are in effect growing larger as our ability to extract them improves. And who knows? Maybe they are not fossil.

Great post. I am with you most of the way on this. There is a but. Environmental messages get filtered out by many people if they get presented as doom and gloom. This article by Futerra somes it up very well

http://www.futerra.co.uk/downloads/Branding_Biodiversity.pdf

This means that the climate change action message has to be a positive one. Fully agree that the time for engaging with flat earthers is past. The more they say it is flat, the more the line is seen not by people not to meet experience.

24. Robin Levett

@Tyler #9:

So tell me….assuming the atmosphere is at 400ppm C02 (roughly correct) why do commercial greenhouses run at anywhere between 1600 and 2500ppm C02 to promote plant growth?

Because greenhouses are a completely controlled environment, in which CO2 is a limiting factor. In a sealed greenhouse the CO2 level can be dropped by plant growth to half ambient in a single day. Adding CO2 alone to a greenhouse however will not result in any great increase in growth; you also need to provide extra fertiliser. Which rather goes to prove my point.

What is near impossible to model, even on today’s supercomputers, are variables like water vapour (which I dare anyone to call a dangerous greenhouse gas) which are unevenly distributed in the atmosphere and whose concentrations are *always* changing.

So the focus has been on C02, when franky the other variables are often ignored, and the feedback loops are poorly understood at best./blockquote>

You are just as wrong now as you were when you said this before; although you seem to have gained a postgraduate degree since then. Water vapour is a feedback, not a forcing, for reasons with which you, as someone wh has studied physics, will be familiar. CO2 is the forcing that we are varying; that is why the effects of varying that forcing are studied.

Oh, and because H2O is a feedback,not a forcing, it isn’t a particularly dangerous greenhouse gas. If we pump more H2O into the atmosphere, the effect is not increased temperature, but increased precipitation downwind.

@ Robin Levitt

“Adding CO2 alone to a greenhouse however will not result in any great increase in growth; you also need to provide extra fertiliser. Which rather goes to prove my point.”

Simply not true. You get greatly increased plant growth with extra C02 alone. It is *by far* the most energy intensive process during plant growth. Indeed plant growth is first limited by the amount of C02 they can take up well before the amount of nutrients available (in normal soil conditions) becomes a limiting factor.

I think that he biggest challenge in the climate change debate has been the supporters who have a tenuous grasp (if any) of the science involved. There are very few indeed who disagree that our burning of fossil fuels has had some effect on the earth’s climate.

Where it breaks down are the extreme predictions which haven’t come to pass. Think of the flooding of Pacific islands due to sea level rises, never seeing snow in the south of England again and many others. These have made people doubt. There are numerous predictions which should not have been made in the first place.

The second reason (imo) is that solutions have often been bundled into accepting the causes. If you accept climate change then you must agree to … This has ranged from offsetting CO2 usage by growing trees to complete de-industrialisation of the developed world. I have not yet heard an integrated argument which allows people to live, let alone for development to continue.

Finally, if “The science is settled” do we still fund research? When science is settled, there is no need for further research!

These ideas, and others have lead to many people either turning off, or doubting the concepts.

David T. C. Davies: I read recently that Tuvalu would be wiped off the face of the earth within 10 years if we did not do something about global warming. The only problem is that the article was 10 years old, and all those islands are still there. Is this not just more exaggeration from those who want higher electricity prices as a result of decarbonisation?

Caroline Lucas: I do not really know where to start to respond to such an ignorant intervention. I will not even bother wasting my time with it.

I can not stand global warming fanatics.

28. Man on Clapham Omnibus

25. Tyler

‘You get greatly increased plant growth with extra C02 alone’

You do realise tyler ,that what you are saying is that plants ONLY need CO2 to grow. Thats patently false as any rudimentary gardener will tell you.

I think these posts generally fail on the lack of apprepreciation of the scientific method eg ‘My money is on the Sun’ and apparently Co2 can be different depending where it is, which kinda belies giving it a name doesnt it?

For my money I would like to consolidate the morons view by suggesting that hidden forces are abroad (maybe catholics) and furthermore the deserts will sprout trees and extra leaf growth will counteract the felling of the rainforests.

If anyone disagrees I am afraid its the ducking stool.

29. Man on Clapham Omnibus

27. Onbe

so do you prefer extra electricity prices via nuclear or dwindling gas and oil reserves?

And by the way its not just Caroline Lucas , the Ministry of defence are at it too in a recently published paper.

‘….South Asian neighbours in times of both humanitarian crises(as a consequence of increased flooding/drought or the large scale migration that
results) and in order to mitigate against gradual alterations caused by progressive
climate change. Similarly, the Maldives will also be increasingly threatened by sea level
rises.’

These bloody commies in the Ministry of Defence

@ MoCO

You have left out the part where I said “in normal soil conditions”. As in, where there are enough nutrients available for normal growth, C02 availability becomes the limitng factor NOT nutrient availability.

To put it another way, if you take a plant and leave it in your garden, but double the amount of nutrients in the soil it won’t grow as fast as if you take the same plant and transplant it to your greenhouse with double the C02 concentration.

so do you prefer extra electricity prices via nuclear or dwindling gas and oil reserves?
====

I dont care, I would how ever prefer that when failings of the insane predictions global warming is founded on are pointed out they get adressed by the religion, rather than the person pointing it out being called “ignorant”. Maybe those in the religion are way to advanced to speak to the common being these days.

32. Robin Levett

@SMFS #22:

Passing over your standard attribution of intelligence to individual CO2 molecules; or at least of the ability to tell whether they are in a test-tube or in the atmosphere at large…

Way to go with a lie right out of the gate Robin. I am impressed. It usually takes you a paragraph or two to come up with something this dishonest.

I’m not going to take lessons in honesty from someone who appears routinely to lie to himself; I don’t credit you with enough stupidity for that to be your excuse.

Passing from that; the relevant behaviour of CO2 is that it absorbs IR at the wavelengths radiated by the Earth’s surface and re-radiates it in all directions equally. That is all it needs to do to tend to warm the Earth’s atmosphere (the extent to which the CO2 causes the atmosphere to warm is of coruse dependent upon the feedbacks – in particular H2O vapour). For that behaviour not to tend to warm the atmosphere, the behaviour would have to change between the laboratory and the atmosphere generally. You say that (putting your claim at its least objectionable) there is no proof that putting CO2 into the atmosphere causes warming, whatever happens in the laboratory. How else is one to interpret that claim, assuming average intelligence in the claim-er, than that the behaviour changes between lab and atmosphere – that the CO2 knows where it is?

It is not even as if your choice of deserts is a good one:

http://www.livescience.com/37055-greenhouse-gas-desert-plants-growing.html

“Between 1982 and 2010, leaf cover on plants rose by 11 percent in arid areas, including the southwestern United States, Australia’s Outback, the Middle East and some parts of Africa, the study found. The results were published May 15 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.”

That increased CO2 has a fertilisation effect is not in issue. That, where both water and other nutrients are available, plants will increase in bulk, is also not in issue. I will accept that I was guilty of imprecision. What I meant, and should have said, was that no amount of excess CO2 will makes plants grow where lack of water currently prevents them from growing; I was talking about the sand sea deserts, not those characterised by vegeation adapted for arid conditions. I don’t have access to the paper itself; do you? It would be useful.

The increased temperatures caused by increased CO2 will in many cases increase heat stress and reduce moisture available, which is not good news for plants. Increased CO2 will also, via plant physiological responses which reduce transpiration under elevated CO2 conditions, increase the effects of heat stress on many species.

In many cases? You don’t know which or whether or not this is true.

I’m sorry? How do you get to this from what I said?

If you increase temperatures where plants are already under heat stress, it is self-evident that you will increase heat stress. If you increase temperatures in hot areas without increasing the availability of water, then you will reduce the availability of water for plants. What is controversial about either of those propositions?

You may want to look at papers like Lobell 2011 at:

http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v1/n1/full/nclimate1043.html

“Using a data set of more than 20,000 historical maize trials in Africa, combined with daily weather data, we show a nonlinear relationship between warming and yields. Each degree day spent above 30?°C reduced the final yield by 1% under optimal rain-fed conditions, and by 1.7% under drought conditions. These results are consistent with studies of temperate maize germplasm in other regions, and indicate the key role of moisture in maize’s ability to cope with heat. Roughly 65% of present maize-growing areas in Africa would experience yield losses for 1?°C of warming under optimal rain-fed management, with 100% of areas harmed by warming under drought conditions. ”

We also know that increased CO2 reduces plant transpiration by closing stomata. Since plants cool by transpiration, the net effect will be to heat them up.

Like so many you are confusing what you hope is true with what we know is true.

I just thought that this statement needed to be seen in isolation for its full glory, given the end of your comment.

What we know is that so far increased CO2 means increased plant growth. Even in deserts. Now it may also mean that this will be offset by other effects, but we do not know it will.

Ah, but we do.

After all, the planet is not warming. But hope away.

Reality disagrees with you. But hope away.

And congratulations by the way. For discovering that you too think that CO2 molecules have intelligence and behave differently in the real world than they do in the lab.

You’ll have to explain. The processes to which I refer are observed both in the lab and in the real world.

Or as I would put it, that the real world is far more complex than the testtube and other factors in the environment will interact with any laboratory theory to produce an uncertain outcome.

The fact that the real world is more complex than a lab experiment isa given. That is after all the whole point of the lab experiment; to eliminate other variables so as to isolate effects and mechanisms. The trick is then to build models combining the known effects and mechanisms so as to predict real-world behaviour. But I know that AGW deniers don’t like models…

Of course, so far as food plants go, increased growth caused by increased CO2 leads to reductions in nutrient content; all you add is bulk, not nutrients. This applies both to wheat and to rice.

Yeah but even if I accepted this nonsense, it does not matter as we want the CO2 removed from the atmosphere. Which that bulk does.

Nonsense? Try Hogy 2009; abstract at:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1438-8677.2009.00230.x/abstract

“Total grain protein concentration decreased significantly by 7.4% under elevated CO2, and protein and amino acid composition were altered. Corresponding to the decline in grain protein concentration, CO2 enrichment resulted in an overall decrease in amino acid concentrations, with greater reductions in non-essential than essential amino acids. Minerals such as potassium, molybdenum and lead increased, while manganese, iron, cadmium and silicon decreased, suggesting that adjustments of agricultural practices may be required to retain current grain quality standards. The concentration of fructose and fructan, as well as amounts per area of total and individual non-structural carbohydrates, except for starch, significantly increased in the grain. The same holds true for the amount of lipids. With regard to mixing and rheological properties of the flour, a significant increase in gluten resistance under elevated CO2 was observed. CO2 enrichment obviously affected grain quality characteristics that are important for consumer nutrition and health, and for industrial processing and marketing, which have to date received little attention.”

It seems to me that significantly decreased nutrient content of our staple food crops is something of an issue – but you may disagree, of course.

That increased plant growth generated by elevated CO2 has not stabilised CO2 in the atmosphere is self-evident; we have increased CO2 content from 270 to 380ppm by burning fossil fuels.

You are aware that fossil fuels aren’t being created at anything like the rate at which they are being depleted, aren’t you?

Rumour has it. But I note that recoverable deposits of fossil fuels are in effect growing larger as our ability to extract them improves.

So we’re depleting them quicker. That helps us how?

And who knows? Maybe they are not fossil.

And maybe humanity is the product of genetic engineering by space aliens? I do so hope you’re not confusing what you hope to be true with what we know is true.

33. Robin Levett

@RedMouse #21:

Once more, the “deniers”! What’s with it with you people? Most of those you scornfully label “denier” are not denying anything – they are just sceptical about the rather pat (and increasingly discredited) idea of climate change being brought about by just one element of the atmosphere.

It’s the one element of the atmosphere that we are massively affecting, and that is the single most effective long-term atmospheric forcing. What is pat about that. As for “increasingly discredited”, it takes real talent to say that with a straight face while also saying:

My money’s on it being the Sun – after all, it is the Sun that is causing the climate; without the Sun, Earth would be just an icy rock. The energy received from the Sun is so immense that a barely perceptible fluctuation could be enough to have a noticeable effect. Other factors will be there, of course, but the Sun looks to be the main culprit.

given the extent to which the “It’s the Sun, stupid” hypothesis has been comprehensively disproved. TSI over the cycle hasn’t shifted significantly for at least half a century. Over the last 35 years, the trend is cooling.

34. Robin Levett

@Tyler #25:

“Adding CO2 alone to a greenhouse however will not result in any great increase in growth; you also need to provide extra fertiliser. Which rather goes to prove my point.”

Simply not true. You get greatly increased plant growth with extra C02 alone. It is *by far* the most energy intensive process during plant growth. Indeed plant growth is first limited by the amount of C02 they can take up well before the amount of nutrients available (in normal soil conditions) becomes a limiting factor.

Commercial greenhouses are completely controlled environments; they don’t generally have “normal soil conditions”. If there is scope for increasing plant growth by CO2 injection in a given greenhouse without increasing nutrient availability, it is because the greenhouse owner is wasting money on excessive plant nutrient.

35. Colin Puddlethwaite

We’ve got deniers on here who deny it’s happening but welcome its results. Go figure.

How the debate on climate change went wrong, and how we can turn it around.

Stop being so preachy and holier than thou would be my suggestion. LC has supported nearly all the show-off ”direct action” groups who pull attention seeking stunts meant to ”educate” the rest of us plebs.
I find it a major turn-off myself and just stopped listening. I ended up thinking they were very silly (annoying) people.

@ 33 Robin Levitt

You really don’t understand this do you.

Increased atmospheric C02 is MUCH MORE important than increased nitrogenous fertiliser when comparing growth rates of plants.

That is aside from the fact that most plants don’t grow in greenhouses, or indeed that the bulk of commercial greenhouses are simple mobile ones, and therefore just use the available soil base.

Radical Rodent: “Once more, the “deniers”! What’s with it with you people? Most of those you scornfully label “denier” are not denying anything – they are just sceptical about the rather pat (and increasingly discredited) idea of climate change being brought about by just one element of the atmosphere.”

I’d suggest you only believe the scientists are considering “just one element of the atmosphere” because you WANT to believe this, which rather justifies the “denier” label. I mean, obviously the scientists have considered the overall composition of the atmosphere.

There’s even been research into the *methane* content of frozen Siberian swamps in connection with global warming, so the idea that they are blissfully unaware of (or deliberately concealing) the existence of effects from anything except CO2 is 100% bogus.

> what about the AGWists, who believe that warming causes cold weather, and the increasing evaporation from the sea causes floods and droughts!

I can best reply to this, RR, in your own words:

> I am not sure whether you realise this, but the atmosphere of Earth is pretty big.

It’s a complex system. It’s been explained thousands of times over, in words of one syllable, how the effects will be varied rather than a uniform degree-by-degree increase all over the world, and how the weather where you happen to live is not the same thing as the global climate.

I don’t for a moment believe you are arguing in good faith here – I’d lay any money you already know the answers. It’s just the classic denier tactic – keep repeating the same questions, then accuse people who get fed up after answering them a thousand times of not having the answers when they refuse to repeat them a thousand-and-first time.

It doesn’t even work in terms of convincing any undecided people, because nobody who’s that stupid is paying attention to the debate in the first place – its only purpose is to demoralise the other side and let yourself feel smug. Well, with the greatest possible respect, GFY.

40. Robin Levett

@Tyler #37:

You really don’t understand this do you.

Increased atmospheric C02 is MUCH MORE important than increased nitrogenous fertiliser when comparing growth rates of plants.

That is aside from the fact that most plants don’t grow in greenhouses, or indeed that the bulk of commercial greenhouses are simple mobile ones, and therefore just use the available soil base.

I’m not sure that the boot isn’t on the other foot.

You raised greenhouses, and I replied to that issue. Are you really suggesting that commercial greenhouse farmers don’t use fertiliser?

I entirely agree that most plants don’t grow in greenhouses. I’d be very interested however in seeing your source for the implied claim that, globally, most soil is more fertile than is required to support its current vegetation.

The eco-fanatics claim to have science on their side but resort to hand waving bullshit when their falsified predictions are brought up.

1. Why is Tuvalu still above the waves despite numerous predictions that by now it’s inhabitants should be knee deep in the rising sea?

2. Why is the world going through the early stages of a huge boom in oil production when numerous predictions have claimed that the oil would have run out by now?

If you don’t have adequate answers for the questions then you have disqualified yourself from further debate, comrades.

42. Radical Rodent

I tried to keep my message simple, but even that was misunderstood.

Do you deny that, without the Sun, there could be no life and no climate on this planet?

Do you deny that the Sun is THE major source of energy to this planet?

Do you deny that any slight alteration of the Sun’s emissions might have some effect upon this planet?

Are you aware that Mars also appears to be experiencing global warming?

Do you deny that the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have continued to increase?

Do you deny that the average global temperature has flat-lined for over 15 years?

Do you deny that if you assert that one event causes another, and observable results differ from your assertion then your assertion might be flawed?

Taking it even further, I recall an article several years back with a statistic that caused me to remember it – more energy from the Sun falls on one square mile of Earth in one day than the entire human race uses in a year. (This was in the days when there was a certain amount of trust with the media, so there was not the demand for citations, proof, quotes, etc.) Anyway, if that figure is correct – even if it is wrong by a factor of 10 – or even 100! – then it certainly does help to put the human contribution to this into perspective. I find the entire concept of trying to control or adjust the climate to be one of the uttermost arrogance on our part. I will accept that it might – just might – be possible when there is a demonstration of genuine control over one single weather event (and I do not mean seeding rain clouds, though even that has had disappointing results).

43. Robin Levett

@Doh #41:

The eco-fanatics claim to have science on their side but resort to hand waving bullshit when their falsified predictions are brought up.

1. Why is Tuvalu still above the waves despite numerous predictions that by now it’s inhabitants should be knee deep in the rising sea?

2. Why is the world going through the early stages of a huge boom in oil production when numerous predictions have claimed that the oil would have run out by now?

Hmmm.

1. Produce a cite for your claimed prediction that Tuvalu would be knee-deep in sea water by now. Here’s a paper that predicts somewhere around 2070 as the very earliest crossover point for Tuvalu – where sea-level rise will match the height of the island – depending upon actual rates of rise (the 2070 date is for a sustained rising trend at 10mm/yr).

http://rock.geosociety.org/gsatoday/archive/19/3/pdf/i1052-5173-19-3-4.pdf

You are aware that (i) ENSO has a very significant cyclical effect on the sea level in the Western Pacific, (ii) that trade winds have a significant but smaller effect and (iii) that sea level rise will not be uniform, aren’t you?

2. We’ve worked out how to use previously inaccessible reserves, at massive energy cost. Simply turning tar sand into oil, for example, uses a third of its ultimately usable energy, and that’s before you take account of transportation and refining costs. And, again, produce cites for some of those numerous predictions that the oil would have run out by now. Cheap oil is no longer available; the issue is how expensive it becomes before the world economy is weaned from it as an energy source.

44. andrew adams

RR,

Don’t you think that climate scientists are aware of the importance of the sun to the earth’s climate system and that they might have considered the question of how changes in solar activity have affected climate over the years? Have you actually checked to see what the scientific literature has to say on this subject?

45. Robin Levett

@RedMouse #42:

I tried to keep my message simple, but even that was misunderstood.

Do you deny that, without the Sun, there could be no life and no climate on this planet?

No

Do you deny that the Sun is THE major source of energy to this planet?

No.

Do you deny that any slight alteration of the Sun’s emissions might have some effect upon this planet?

No.

Are you aware that Mars also appears to be experiencing global warming?

Is it? Fenton claimed to find a long-term trend of 0.65C over the period between two observations of Mars. The paper, however, was as flawed as those claiming to find a cooling trend by comparing global temepratures in 1998 with, say, 2002.

Do you deny that the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have continued to increase?

I assert so.

Do you deny that the average global temperature has flat-lined for over 15 years?

Ah; now here it comes. I do. And, more importantly, so do those whose business it is to know. Warming has slowed; but we are still setting temeprature records, and the Arctic is still melting…. And using 1998, a previous high point driven by a massive El Nino, as the reference, when no subsequent El Nino has come closebut we’ve still exceeded the temeprature in that year, rather demonstrates the bankruptcy of the deniers’ arguments.

Do you deny that if you assert that one event causes another, and observable results differ from your assertion then your assertion might be flawed?

Might be, yes. Show me where anyone has suggested that CO2 increases will be immediately reflected in global temperature rises; that is, that the time to equilibrium temperature in the atmosphere is approaching zero.

Show me where any climatologist has stated that CO2 is the only driver of the Earth’s climate, to the exclusion of any other forcing, and that CO2 will have a monotonic effect irrespective of any other processes or feedbacks.

Can I ask you just two questions:

1 Do you deny that CO2 in the atmosphere operates as a greenhouse gas by absorbing upwelling IR and re-radiating it omnidirectionally?

2 Do you deny that humanity has increased the proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere by something of the order of 110ppm over the industrial era, and continues to increase that proportion?

46. Radical Rodent

Do you deny that CO2 in the atmosphere operates as a greenhouse gas by absorbing upwelling IR and re-radiating it omnidirectionally?

No. As NASA assures us, ALL gasses are greenhouse gasses; why should CO2 be any different?

Do you deny that humanity has increased the proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere by something of the order of 110ppm over the industrial era, and continues to increase that proportion?

Hmmm. The proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere may have increased by 110ppm (since… erm, when? A year or even decade might have been better at this point); can you assure me that it is solely caused by humans? I can accept that it is, but can you assure me categorically that it is?

47. Robin Levett

@RedMouse #46:

No. As NASA assures us, ALL gasses are greenhouse gasses…

Cite, please. If you are relying upon phrasing such as “Without an atmosphere, the Earth would be N degrees colder” then this is not support for the proposition.

Hmmm. The proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere may have increased by 110ppm (since… erm, when?

The answer is in my question.

…can you assure me that it is solely caused by humans? I can accept that it is, but can you assure me categorically that it is?

To the limits of scientific knowledge – yes. From both directions. We have burned enough fossil fuel to raise atmospheric CO2 content by more than twice the 110ppm increase; and the isotopic studies (fossil carbon has a different isotopic ratio to atmospheric carbon – do you know why?) more than support the claim.

“The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report will be an opportunity for people who want action on climate change to get it back into the news ..”

You’ve got to be joking. Relying on a major comeback from the IPCC is a bad bet. I predict that the AR5 report will be much more closely examined this time around. And will be found to be full of holes, questions and doubt, and the AR5 will put the final nails in the IPCC coffin.

cheers

> Produce a cite for your claimed prediction that Tuvalu would be knee-deep in sea water by now.

The island’s leaders have made this prediction repeatedly.

You don’t seem to understand, do you, that it’s not so much the climate scientists who have discredited your holy cause, but laymen hangers-on like yourself and other political opportunists who have over-egged the pudding. The likes of Monbiot have destroyed its credibility. If you think unfairly, disown and denounce them.

50. Robin Levett

@Doh #49:

The island’s leaders have made this prediction repeatedly.

Then you’ll have no difficulty producing a cite, will you?

You don’t seem to understand, do you, that it’s not so much the climate scientists who have discredited your holy cause, but laymen hangers-on like yourself and other political opportunists who have over-egged the pudding. The likes of Monbiot have destroyed its credibility. If you think unfairly, disown and denounce them.

So let me get this right. You accept the science – that AGW is happening – but deplore the way that certain non-scientists overdramatise the situation. You would prefer a clear-headed discussion, accepting the reality of AGW, making a scientific analysis of the range and likelihood of potential consequences, and moulding policy accordingly. If so, I’m with you all the way; but fail to see now publicity-seeking by Monbiot and others can possibly change the facts of AGW.

The question was how the climate change debate went “wrong”. I’ve explained why that happened, so feel free to run along now.

This, in black, is the HADCRUT4 global temperature anomaly from 1850 to present

http://i179.photobucket.com/albums/w318/DocMartyn/HADCRUT4monthly_zps575cf5ba.png

In red is the rate, calculated over 97 months, 8 years and one month.
The rate of temperature change is now negative. The world is cooling. The levels of CO2 in the atmosphere are rising and temperature is falling.
Now, as this present cooling period continues, we will be in a position to more accurately estimate the climate sensitivity, the increase in temperature caused by a doubling of [CO2] from 280 to 560 ppm.
The reason the ‘Thermogeddonists’ are so pissed off is that each month that shows no warming means the climate sensitivity upper boundary falls; at the moment it is about 1.7 degrees and not the >3 degrees that they love to frighten people with.
notice what a slimy scumbag Leo Barasi is. The solution to the failure of the Earth to match the alarmist predictions is to label people ‘deniers’ and attempt to stop the debate by ‘a ban among climate campaigners on references to global degrees of warming’.

no wonder illiberal Conspiracy has him as a ATL author.

53. Robin Levett

@DocMartyn #52:

This, in black, is the HADCRUT4 global temperature anomaly from 1850 to present

http://i179.photobucket.com/albums/w318/DocMartyn/HADCRUT4monthly_zps575cf5ba.png

In red is the rate, calculated over 97 months, 8 years and one month.

And your reason for selecting that rather odd (and pretty short) time interval over which to do a point to point calculation (not a trend calculation or a moving average) is? I’m quite sure it’s nothing to do with the fact that 2005 is the (joint) warmest year on record (wih 2010)…

54. So Much For Subtlety

24. Robin Levett

Because greenhouses are a completely controlled environment, in which CO2 is a limiting factor. In a sealed greenhouse the CO2 level can be dropped by plant growth to half ambient in a single day. Adding CO2 alone to a greenhouse however will not result in any great increase in growth; you also need to provide extra fertiliser. Which rather goes to prove my point.

You actually quote the relevant science but you do not seem to understand it. It is weird. You are right, CO2 is sometimes the limiting factor. You do not need to add extra fertilizer in all circumstances, although it would be advisable, as it depends on what the next limiting factor is. Soil is usually very rich – far richer than any plant can use in one season. You would have to test for nitrogen levels and see if your soil was low in that – in or out of a greenhouse. It may be that the next most important limiting factor is not nitrogen in the soil. You do not know.

What this means for the rest of the planet I do not know. But it does appear that CO2 is a limiting factor for a lot of plants across the planet and increasing CO2 levels has in fact increased growth. This should not be surprising as Keeling’s measurements show roughly half the CO2 we emit is removed somehow from the atmosphere.

Oh, and because H2O is a feedback,not a forcing, it isn’t a particularly dangerous greenhouse gas. If we pump more H2O into the atmosphere, the effect is not increased temperature, but increased precipitation downwind.

Sorry but you have no idea what a feedback is do you? The entire run-away Greenhouse scenario rests on the odd assumption that more CO2 means more water vapour. If it gets hotter it will not rain as much, allegedly. Which means more clouds and more greenhouse, thus causing a vicious circle as more water in the atmosphere causes more heating which causes more water in the atmosphere.

Of course this is likely to be rubbish. As clouds reflect sunlight up as well as heat down. But we do not know. As the models are, as you were told, crap.

For a lawyer your science is not bad.

55. So Much For Subtlety

32. Robin Levett

I’m not going to take lessons in honesty from someone who appears routinely to lie to himself; I don’t credit you with enough stupidity for that to be your excuse.

Your loss. You should. You need to.

Passing from that; the relevant behaviour of CO2 is that it absorbs IR at the wavelengths radiated by the Earth’s surface and re-radiates it in all directions equally. That is all it needs to do to tend to warm the Earth’s atmosphere (the extent to which the CO2 causes the atmosphere to warm is of coruse dependent upon the feedbacks – in particular H2O vapour).

You get the science but you deny it anyway. Yes, CO2 does absorb IR and does re-radiate. But of course the extent to which the CO2 causes the atmosphere to warn is dependent on the feedbacks – in particular H2O vapour. In other words, as I said, what happens in the lab does not translate well into the real world. Now you have conceeded my case entirely I shall look forward to an admission you were wrong.

For that behaviour not to tend to warm the atmosphere, the behaviour would have to change between the laboratory and the atmosphere generally.

No it wouldn’t. It would depend on the feedback that is absent from the lab but present in the real world. If the water provides a strong negative feedback, theoretically more CO2 might even cool the planet. Not that I think it does. The CO2 can go on doing whatever it is it does, but in the vastly more complex world of the environment, you cannot simplistically assume lab behaviour. As you do.

You say that (putting your claim at its least objectionable) there is no proof that putting CO2 into the atmosphere causes warming, whatever happens in the laboratory. How else is one to interpret that claim, assuming average intelligence in the claim-er, than that the behaviour changes between lab and atmosphere – that the CO2 knows where it is?

In line with the science you can quote but clearly do not understand. We are not deal with a testtube. We are dealing with a vat and complicated non-linear dynamic system that is poorly understood and impossible to model. Thus what the CO2 does is interesting, but once all the feedbacks take places, we cannot know what the outcome will be.

That increased CO2 has a fertilisation effect is not in issue.

Yes it is. It is the entire issue. You are trying to distract from the point with your usual bullsh!t but it is and remains the point. We are actually taking CO2 out of the atmosphere. As we speak and type. Because CO2 has a fertilization effect. Now you can whine about the level of nutrients or our precious bodily fluids or whatever else you want to complain about, but the reality is that nice CO2 is causing increased plant growth which is slowly removing CO2 from the atmosphere – the planet is a complex and dynamic system that is poorly understood.

I will accept that I was guilty of imprecision.

You were wrong. Admit it like a man and move on.

What I meant, and should have said, was that no amount of excess CO2 will makes plants grow where lack of water currently prevents them from growing;

Sure. And if I had claimed otherwise your point would be mildly interesting. As I didn’t it is irrelevant. The fact is all over the world, even in deserts which you brought up, not me, CO2 is causing more plant growth.

I’m sorry? How do you get to this from what I said?

At this stage I think it is a reasonable default assumption, but by all means, tell us the specific cases.

If you increase temperatures where plants are already under heat stress, it is self-evident that you will increase heat stress.

If.

http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v1/n1/full/nclimate1043.html

“Using a data set of more than 20,000 historical maize trials in Africa, combined with daily weather data, we show a nonlinear relationship between warming and yields.

It ought to be fairly obvious that in Africa you are measuing a hell of a lot of things besides what you think you are measuring. The cooler you are in Africa, as a general rule, the further south you are. The further south you are, the more people of European origin you find. And while I would not make a claim about racial origins of farmers, I would about the different types of argiculture. There is a massive difference between the commercial and intensive agriculture of White farmers in South Africa or Zambia and the traditional argiculture of pretty much everywhere else. Sure they are not measuring that?

However it is utterly irrelevant.

Reality disagrees with you. But hope away.

No it doesn’t. The planet is not warming.

The fact that the real world is more complex than a lab experiment isa given.

Not by you it isn’t. As you insist that the only explanation for a test tube result not working in the real world is smart CO2 molecules.

The trick is then to build models combining the known effects and mechanisms so as to predict real-world behaviour. But I know that AGW deniers don’t like models…

Because they are rubbish.

Nonsense? Try Hogy 2009; abstract at:

Still irrelevant. We are not talking about nutrition levels but CO2 removal.

It seems to me that significantly decreased nutrient content of our staple food crops is something of an issue – but you may disagree, of course.

Then feel free to bring it up in some other thread. As I have not talked about it everyone can see this for what it is – a pathetic attempt to distract from your ignorance and errors in this thread.

So we’re depleting them quicker. That helps us how?

That is an odd conclusion to draw as it is not what I said nor is it a reasonable inference. At the moment we are not only finding oil faster than we can burn it, we are also funding alternatives faster still.

And maybe humanity is the product of genetic engineering by space aliens? I do so hope you’re not confusing what you hope to be true with what we know is true.

Maybe but I doubt it. On the other hand there is a small but respectable body of science that says fossil fuels may not be fossil in origin. I do not find them all that convincing, but it would be nice if they were true. I would hope everyone would hope that was true, but then Greens are weird.

56. So Much For Subtlety

44. andrew adams

Don’t you think that climate scientists are aware of the importance of the sun to the earth’s climate system and that they might have considered the question of how changes in solar activity have affected climate over the years? Have you actually checked to see what the scientific literature has to say on this subject?

Actualy climate scientists have argued long and hard that the sun plays no role in the recent warming. They have worked to side line scientists who say that there may be some influence. So you need to split what climate scientists say and do from what other scientists say and do. They are really not the same.

57. Robin Levett

@SMFS:

Stop lying about my position.

CO2 tends to warm the atmosphere by the mechanism you have agreed takes place. That warming triggers feedbacks that also tend to warm the atmosphere; for example, the demonstrated fact (not odd assumption) that warming will increase the capacity of the atmosphere to retain water vapour without it raining out. Water vapour is a potent greenhouse gas.

Have a look at this piece for a reasonably understandable explanation of the mechanisms at work:

http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/briefs/schmidt_05/

For an increase in CO2, together with the obvious feedbacks, not to warm the atmosphere – for you to be correct that the earth’s atmosphere isn’t warming – would require some combination of negative feedbacks, and other forcings, sufficient to overcome that warming tendency. Tell me when the deniers have found those negative feedbacks or cooling mechanisms; because so far they haven’t.

You might want to read the Nature paper before drawing the conclusion that it is measuring the difference between white and black agricultural methods; and brush up on your geography as well – Tripoli is virtually as far North as Cape Town is South – and Algiers and Tunis are further North still. As a general rule, it gets cooler as you go North or South in Africa from the Equator, which runs slightly south of the middle of Africa.

Models; what do you and other deniers have against scientists basing predictions on several mechanisms operating at the same time, some interacting one with another?

I loved the irony in the opening words of this part of your post:

Sorry but you have no idea what a feedback is do you? The entire run-away Greenhouse scenario rests on the odd assumption that more CO2 means more water vapour. If it gets hotter it will not rain as much, allegedly. Which means more clouds and more greenhouse, thus causing a vicious circle as more water in the atmosphere causes more heating which causes more water in the atmosphere.

Since increased temperatures at the ocean surface increase evaporation of water into the atmosphere, and increase its ability to retain water, whether precipitation increases or reduces at a given place as a result of CO2-initiated warming will depend on local and regional influences. Overall, however, water vapour content in the atmosphere will increase.

Increased water vapour increases warming – until eventually the system reaches equilibrium at a higher temperature than it started.

Of course this is likely to be rubbish. As clouds reflect sunlight up as well as heat down

You do know that clouds aren’t composed of water vapour, don’t you?

As for your repeated claim that the Earth’s atmosphere isn’t warming; on what do you base it? The instrumental record is against you; the observed biological effects are against you; even the Arctic is against you.

58. Robin Levett

@SMFS #56:

Actualy climate scientists have argued long and hard that the sun plays no role in the recent warming.

Maybe because TSI (over the cycle) has actually dropped over the last 35 years, and hasn’t significantly increased since the middle of the last century?

59. DocMartyn

53. Robin Levett
“And your reason for selecting that rather odd (and pretty short) time interval over which to do a point to point calculation (not a trend calculation or a moving average) is?”

97 is prime and primes are useful in removing harmonics in trend analysis; but you must have known that.

“I’m quite sure it’s nothing to do with the fact that 2005 is the (joint) warmest year on record (wih 2010)”

That is not strictly true. If one has a look at at 2010 it has two very high months, one almost 0.7 degrees higher than the previous month.
The fact is that the rate, which I show in red, shows a decline in temperature. The data speaks for itself.

60. Robin Levett

@DocMartyn #59:

The fact is that the rate, which I show in red, shows a decline in temperature. The data speaks for itself.

GIGO. You have chosen to do a point to point measurement that is not a whole number of years, which inevitably introduces a bias to the measurement Even assuming that a figure not divisible by 12 has any physical significance, how is the measurement affected if you use a different prime number of months – say 83 months or 107 months?

Your own 31 year average shows continuing (albeit slightly slowed) warming:

http://s179.photobucket.com/user/DocMartyn/media/HADCRUT4Global_zps5c19cb37.jpg.html

and 31 years has the merit of being a period over which statistically significant numbers can be generated. The fact is that the rate, which you show in red, shows an increase in temperature.

So it shouldn’t be hard to knock back the argument that taking action on climate change puts us at a global disadvantage – and that’s before we start talking about the potential economic benefits of investing in low-carbon industries.

Please explain how raising energy prices – the inevitable consequence of taking action on climate change – does NOT put us at a global disadvantage.

And please elaborate on the potential economic benefits of investing in low-carbon industries.

Wind mills and solar panels from China?

Electric vehicles stuffed full of chemical batteries made from immensly polluting rare earth minerals….from China?

62. Radical Rodent

Robin Levett (46)

Cite, please.

No.

It is basic common sense; without an atmosphere, the Earth will be considerably cooler than it is now. With an atmosphere, as well as the gasses in contact with the ground absorbing a lot of heat, a lot of heat will be absorbed by the passage of light through the atmosphere. Some gasses may be better than others at this absorption, but ALL gasses will contribute to the overall effect of heat dispersal and retention. You only need to look no further than the Moon, where surface temperatures are very high in sunlight, and very low in shadow to see the difference.

The atmosphere is a vast and complex mechanism, and one that we have only been studying for a relatively short time. How you can be so adamant that what is such a small part of the mechanism can have such a dramatic effect is what I find truly bizarre. Should anyone challenge you with a common-sense view, or perhaps a touch of reality, you resort to “Cite, please.”

This is how the AGWists hide their fears; when faced with an argument of common sense, they insist on the presentation of a scientific dissertation to back it up. Only the complete destruction of civilisation as we know it is the answer to this problem – for some reason, they seem to be of the opinion that it is only the “bad guys” who will suffer; they, being the “good guys” (of course), they will not suffer any deprivations. While berating us for driving around, heating (or cooling) our homes, flying hither and thither as we are leaving a “carbon footprint”, they continue to drive around, heat (or cool) their homes, and fly to one conference after another, justifying in their smugness their own “carbon footprint” as they preach their “message”. I have even seen the argument, “No-one get rich from raising the alarm.” Get real – look at Al Gore, the first climate billionaire; the likes of Mann, Hansen, Jones, et al are also well funded by the tax-payer. Most of the sceptics, however, do not have such a guaranteed income, and few – if any! – are in the pay of “Big Oil” (a common derisory accusation); most are operating voluntarily.

Sorry. Call it the totally unscientific principle of “intuition”, but this whole AGW/ACC farrago is a scam – one used by politicians to further their own ideals and power-grabs, giving them excuses for yet more taxes, yet more control of Jane and Joe Citizen. Scientists use it to protect (and increase) their incomes, influence and egos, and to attempt to destroy any opposition. Others are swept up in the airy-fairy, woolly-minded, nonsensical idea of “saving” the planet/environment/whatever floats their particular boat – but whatever it is, it will cause a massive inconvenience to a lot of others, not just those against whom they bear a particular grudge (usually “big business” in its many and varied shades) in their evangelical zeal.

There have been warming and cooling cycles since time immemorial. This particular cycle may have peaked, or it may not; whatever happens, there is little we can do to affect it, one way or the other. Why get your knickers in such a twist?

Robin Levett, your assertion that ANOMALIES have to be averaged in groups of 12 months is bizarre. The data from HADCRUT4, and from GISS, show cooling.
I science, when a model fails to match reality, then the model is altered; in climate science this appears not to be the case.

64. Robin Levett

@RedMouse #62:

Cite, please.

No.

It is basic common sense; without an atmosphere, the Earth will be considerably cooler than it is now. With an atmosphere, as well as the gasses in contact with the ground absorbing a lot of heat, a lot of heat will be absorbed by the passage of light through the atmosphere. Some gasses may be better than others at this absorption, but ALL gasses will contribute to the overall effect of heat dispersal and retention. You only need to look no further than the Moon, where surface temperatures are very high in sunlight, and very low in shadow to see the difference.

Let’s be very clear about what I asked you to provide a citation for. You claimed that:

No. As NASA assures us, ALL gasses are greenhouse gasses…

Now, so far as I am aware, NASA has never done any such thing. The definition of a greenhouse gas is very specific; Annex 2 to the Synthesis Report of the 4th IPCC Assessment Report defines them as follows:

Greenhouse gas (GHG)

Greenhouse gases are those gaseous constituents of the atmosphere, both natural and anthropogenic, that absorb and emit radiation at specific wavelengths within the spectrum of thermal infrared radiation emitted by the Earth’s surface, the atmosphere itself, and by clouds. This property causes the greenhouse effect. Water vapour (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4) and ozone (O3) are the primary greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere. Moreover, there are a number of entirely human-made greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, such as the halocarbons and other chlorine and bromine containing substances, dealt with under the Montreal Protocol. Beside CO2, N2O and CH4, the Kyoto Protocol deals with the greenhouse gases sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs).

The Earth’s atmosphere is full of gases that are not GHGs; neither O2 nor N2, making up 99% of the atmopshere by volume, have any measurable greenhouse effect; they are both transparent to IR light (which, when you actually think about it, is obvious – night vision sensors would not work if they were GHGs). If NASA had ever made the absurd claim that you suggest they did – that all gases are greenhouse gases – then they would deserve derision. You cannot produce a cite not because you are unwilling, but because you cannot.

Here’s an elementary level explanation of global warming that makes the point:

http://climate.nasa.gov/causes

What you fail to understand is that the only gases relevant to global warming are the greenhouse gases.

Heat can transfer in only three ways; by radiation (basically, IR photons emitted from the warm surface), conduction (molecules directly interacting) and convection (transfer of heat from point X to (higher) point Y by bulk transfer of the heat-carrying material – usually fluids (gases or liquids)).

The only way that the Earth loses to space the heat that hits it from the Sun (and the far smaller proportion resulting from nuclear fission within the Earth) is by radiation.

The amount of heat (and indeed the wavelength – although this isn’t an issue for the Earth, it explains why the Sun’s energy gets through the GHGs to the earth’s surface – GHGs absorb and re-emit at specific wavelengths) radiated by a surface is directly dependent upon its temperature.

At a superficial level then: The Earth’s surface will warm to the point that its outgoing re-radiation balances the incoming radiation. If you interfere with re-radiation, by absorbing some of the radiant energy and re-emitting it back to the surface, the surface will increase in temperature (since incoming radiation has increased) thereby increasing its re-radiation.

Conduction doesn’t have an effect on this process, because there is effectively no material to which to transfer heat in a vacuum; it doesn’t matter how good a thermal insulator a given gas may be, it doesn’t figure in the radiative budget because heat isn’t escaping that way.

Convection could get heat to the top of the atmosphere (although it doesn’t – certainly not in any quantity) but no further; again, any interference with convection will have no effect on the budget.

Why get my knickers in a twist? Because while I probably won’t live to see it, a world even 2C warmer, let alone 5 or 6C warmer, is going to be a very different and far more difficult world to live in for my daughter, and for your and everybody else’s children. And because I see denigration of good scientists and science by forces driven by financial self-interest and/or ignorance as antithetical to the kind of society I’d like to live in.

65. Robin Levett

ooops; in #64, everything from “The Earth’s atmosphere is full of gases that are not GHGs” onward should have gone left, not right…

66. Robin Levett

@DocMartyn #63:

<blockquote.Robin Levett, your assertion that ANOMALIES have to be averaged in groups of 12 months is bizarre.

The reference temperatures vary over the year; by choosing not to use a complete year, your results will fail to capture the effect of any mechanism that changes the balance between summer/winter/spring/autumn temepratures.

I find it bizarre that you just happen to have selected a prime number for your analysis that allows you to begin your point to point calculation in the joint hottest year on record. You haven’t tested that result by using different prime numbers to see how robust it is. And you have ignored your own calculated 31 year moving average which shows continuing, albeit slowed, warming.

The data from HADCRUT4, and from GISS, show cooling.

Not according to your own calculated 31 year moving average.

And the people at GISS;

http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=80167

and the Hadley Centre disagree with you.

I science, when a model fails to match reality, then the model is altered; in climate science this appears not to be the case.

Point to point calculations deliberately set to start in the hottest years on record hardly show that the models fail to match reality. If your conclusion that the data shows cooling were robust it wouldn’t matter whether you started in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 or 2006; but .

67. Robin Levett

@DocMartyn #63:

<blockquote.Robin Levett, your assertion that ANOMALIES have to be averaged in groups of 12 months is bizarre.

The reference temperatures vary over the year; by choosing not to use a complete year, your results will fail to capture the effect of any mechanism that changes the balance between summer/winter/spring/autumn temepratures.

I find it bizarre that you just happen to have selected a prime number for your analysis that allows you to begin your point to point calculation in the joint hottest year on record. You haven’t tested that result by using different prime numbers to see how robust it is. And you have ignored your own calculated 31 year moving average which shows continuing, albeit slowed, warming.

The data from HADCRUT4, and from GISS, show cooling.

Not according to your own calculated 31 year moving average.

And the people at GISS;

http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=80167

and the Hadley Centre disagree with you.

I science, when a model fails to match reality, then the model is altered; in climate science this appears not to be the case.

Point to point calculations deliberately set to start in the hottest years on record hardly show that the models fail to match reality. If your conclusion that the data shows cooling were robust it wouldn’t matter whether you started in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 or 2006; but it does.

68. Radical Rodent

…a world even 2C warmer, let alone 5 or 6C warmer…

2[°]C warmer than… when? Now? Some unspecified time in the past? And on what are you basing these figures? Climate models? But according to them, these temperatures should already be reality, but the rise in temperatures plateaued in 1998. NONE of the climate models predicted that; NONE of the climate models can explain it; NONE of the climate models seem to be even taking the reality into account – the authors just insist in saying that the plateau is not happening, and temperatures are still rising (though they are not).

The rise in temperatures in these models is dependent upon the rise of CO2; CO2 continues to rise, yet the temperatures plateau. Therefore, even for the most obstinate mind, that has to indicate that the rise in temperatures in NOT dependent upon the rise in CO2 (though there may be some correlation).

69. Radical Rodent

Robin Levett (64)

I appreciate your reference to the IPPC definition of the term GHG, but it is obvious you did not read what I wrote (you certainly did not pick me up on the reference to light, as if this was the only radiation of any consequence. I should have said “solar radiation”, as visible light is but a small proportion of the total – and solar radiation is not just the ONLY external input of energy into our atmosphere, it is the MAJOR source of energy). I said, “Some gasses may be better than others”, which you then verified: oxygen and nitrogen are very poor. However, these two can still absorb heat, either by convection or conduction, or both – this is why the atmosphere gets warm; it is not just the 1% of gasses that are not O2 or N2, it is ALL the gasses that “…contribute to the overall effect of heat dispersal and retention.

If nothing else, this might highlight why greenhouses are a very poor analogy of what is going on in the complex structure of the atmosphere, and explain why the concentration on one of the many “greenhouse gasses” in the climate models is not a particularly good path to follow.

70. Robin Levett

@RedMouse #68:

but the rise in temperatures plateaued in 1998

Forget it. If you are going to ignore cyclical processes and deny reality to that extent, there’s no point in continuing further.

But you really ought to re-read what I wrote, and what is on the NASA page, one or both of which you are misunderstanding. You may wish to consider that for the atmosphere to warm by conduction from the ground, the atmopshere must cool the ground.

71. Radical Rodent

Robin Levett (70)

If you are going to ignore cyclical processes

Erm… read the last paragraph of my post at 62: “There have been warming and cooling cycles since time immemorial.” So, no, I am not ignoring cyclical processes; but the global climate models appear to. As, it appears, you do, when it suits.

…and deny reality…

Let’s hear from the likes of … oooh, let’s see… who purportedly knows something about the climate? Oh, yes! The Met Office. On December 26th, 2012, the UKMO released information, admitting that there has been no significant temperature rise since 1998. Obviously, they are wrong, as is Phil Jones…

As for the ground heating the air in contact with it – I presume you have heard of gliders, or vultures? What do they use for increasing the altitude? Thermals. A thermal is parcel of air that has been heated by the ground, and rises (hot air rises; recognise that from your school days?); obviously, the process will cool the ground (which is probably why the ground, while it might get hot in sunshine, does not get as scorchingly hot as it does on the Moon). How else is much of the lower atmosphere going to warm?

“66. Robin Levett

@DocMartyn #63:

<blockquote.Robin Levett, your assertion that ANOMALIES have to be averaged in groups of 12 months is bizarre.

The reference temperatures vary over the year; by choosing not to use a complete year, your results will fail to capture the effect of any mechanism that changes the balance between summer/winter/spring/autumn temepratures.

I find it bizarre that you just happen to have selected a prime number for your analysis that allows you to begin your point to point calculation in the joint hottest year on record."

You really are a complete moron; the 'rate' is not calculated 'point to point' in the 'joint hottest year on record'. it is a rolling 97 month rate calculation starting on the first month recorded by HADCRUT4, January 1851, and extends to April 2013. Each point is the rate of change over 97 months, and centered on the 49th month. Thus each point in red is the rate of temperature change, for 48 months either side.
You assertion that one cannot use monthly data of analysis because 'will fail to capture the effect of any mechanism that changes the balance between summer/winter/spring/autumn temperatures' misses the reason why one uses a prime for sampling.
The 31 year rate of the annual dataset you also misconstrue. It is quite clear that the rate of change is falling, when sampled at 15*2 + 1 years. The annual series tells us less about the changes now, but gives a very, very, robust about the direction the rate of change is going.
The two different analyses reflect two different ways to visualize and calculate the way temperature have dynamically changed over more than 160 years.

Look at the fucking data before making sweeping statements about, very simple,mathematical analyses.

73. So Much For Subtlety

57. Robin Levett

Stop lying about my position.

Point to a single lie I have made. You can’t because I haven’t. You’re blustering because you have f**ked up massively given you simply do not understand the basic science. Hence you’re wild flailing around for a point and refusal to discuss the actual topic on hand.

CO2 tends to warm the atmosphere by the mechanism you have agreed takes place.

Again you do not know that. The mechanism exists. It may or may not actually warm the atmosphere. Because the real world is a complex poorly understood place. You are just assuming it does.

That warming triggers feedbacks that also tend to warm the atmosphere; for example, the demonstrated fact (not odd assumption) that warming will increase the capacity of the atmosphere to retain water vapour without it raining out. Water vapour is a potent greenhouse gas.

That increased CO2 should lead to warming is obvious. That it will trigger feedbacks is also obvious. That some of them will be positive and some of them will be negative also seems likely. However we do not know which is which nor do we know what the overall impact is going to be. As the science is too poor and the real world too complicated. However so far things are not looking too bad. After all, we know that more evaporation means more clouds. And we know that clouds can and so reflect sunlight back out into space. We know that the plumes produced by airplanes and ships cool the planet. So it is reasonable to assume more cloud cover means more cooling.

Tell me when the deniers have found those negative feedbacks or cooling mechanisms; because so far they haven’t.

Well that is not quite true. But no one knows either way.

You might want to read the Nature paper before drawing the conclusion that it is measuring the difference between white and black agricultural methods; and brush up on your geography as well – Tripoli is virtually as far North as Cape Town is South – and Algiers and Tunis are further North still. As a general rule, it gets cooler as you go North or South in Africa from the Equator, which runs slightly south of the middle of Africa.

None of which is relevant.

Models; what do you and other deniers have against scientists basing predictions on several mechanisms operating at the same time, some interacting one with another?

Nothing whatsoever. Which has nothing to do with the models. Which are crap. We simply do not have the capacity to model the atmosphere. We cannot even accurately model an airplane wing.

Increased water vapour increases warming – until eventually the system reaches equilibrium at a higher temperature than it started.

Except why would there be an equilibrium? If this is so, more warmth means even more water which means even more heating and so on. Until the atmosphere is saturated and the IR escapes through some other window. Which is plainly absurd so it is no wonder you prefer to think that some equilibrium would be reached. What is more it is just wrong – more water vapour means more clouds. The effect of that appear to be negative. So it may cool.

As for your repeated claim that the Earth’s atmosphere isn’t warming; on what do you base it? The instrumental record is against you; the observed biological effects are against you; even the Arctic is against you.

No they are not. The atmosphere is not warming. NASA’s adjusted figures are so adjusted they are worthless, but everyone else’s show the temperature of the atmosphere has stopped rising. The instrument record? Cute. There are no observed biological effects.

Robin Levett

Maybe because TSI (over the cycle) has actually dropped over the last 35 years, and hasn’t significantly increased since the middle of the last century?

Which is interesting but irrelevant. Maybe it is an inverse relationship with TSI? Perhaps it is high energy particles, not TSI? Who knows. It should be investigated and rumour has it the next IPCC will be forced to do more than dismiss it out of hand. We will see.

The fact remains we cannot be blamed for the Sun and so the Warmists have dismissed such research without even bothering to consider it. That should stop.

74. Robin Levett

@RedMouse #71:

I shouldn’t, but:

1998 was an El Nino year; and a massive one. If global temperatures had plateaued from then, no subsequent year would have come close; yet we’ve had two years, 2005 and 2010, which are at least as hot – and 2005 was a La Nina year, hence it should have been at least .2C cooler if there were no underlying warming. In fact, no La Nina in the 21st century has been cooler than any El Nino in the 20th barring only 1998.

That is what I mean by your ignoring cycles; focussing on an El Nino-driven peak and ignoring that fact that it was El Nno-driven.

Just to pick up on something in your earlier post; incoming solar electromagnetic radiation, colloquially termed “light”, peaks at around 0.5 microns, in the middle of the visible light spectrum (between yellow and orange), with overlaps into the UV and IR bands. You were therefore close enough when you referred to incoming solar radiation as light – most of the energy is in the visible spectrum.

Outgoing IR peaks at around 10 microns, and runs between c5 and 30. Oxygen (O2)has no absorption bands at those wavelengths; nor does nitrogen. Ozone (O3) does; but is recognised as a GHG.

You still do not get it that conduction and convection are irrelevant to what is called the greenhouse effect; and why you think I don’t realise that the Sun is the major contributor of energy to the Earth’s surface I have no idea. That is after all why the greenhouse effect is so important; the Earth’s surface temperature is at the level at which outgoing radiant (IR – because that is the band within which a body of the earth’s temperature radiates) energy balances the incoming radiant energy from the Sun – if that doesn’t happen, then the surface will heat up (because it is receiving more energy than it is radiating) until equilibrum is reached. Greenhouse gases, by increasing the IR photons’ effective path out of the atmosphere, reduce the rate at which energy reradiates for a given temperature and hence force an increase in temperature at the Earth’s surface.

75. Radical Rodent

DocMartyn (72):

To give Robin Levett some sympathy, I, too, read it as he did – that is was just monthly readings. Now you have explained it, it makes the data even more interesting – it appears that there actually IS a decline in temperatures (as if we need to be told in this flaming June!).

Unfortunately, RL is displaying the thinking that seems to be prevalent in the AWGist brigade – fact is irrelevant – stick with the models! They tell us we are all doomed! Panic!

While we are supposed to be terrified of rising temperatures, no-one has really any idea of what will happen if temperatures rise – perhaps it be even better! Who knows? (Obviously, should that happen, it is not scary, can’t be used to frighten, so the possibility can be ignored.)

Please, Robin, tell us, when was the climate perfect?

76. Radical Rodent

Robin Levett (74)

Are you aware what a plateau is? A good analogy would be to look at a multi-story building, with levels linked by flights of stairs, and we shall use “elevation” as an analogy for temperature. To get to the upper floor, you rise up the stairs; upstairs, no matter how much higher than the other steps the last step was, and no matter how far you wander from it, the top of the stairs remains in the same place (let’s label it “1998”). Now, there might be some dips and troughs on your landing but, you will note, none of them are as low as downstairs; similarly, there is nowhere downstairs that is higher than the landing, hence you can comfortably say, “I am higher than I’ve ever been!” so claiming all sorts of records.

It may be a two-story building, with another flight of stairs going down, or it may be more than two, in which case there is another flight of stairs going up. This is why sceptics recognise that we are presently on a plateau, and that being on a plateau does not mean that we are at the peak.

Stop wriggling like a fish on a hook, and accept that we are on a temperature plateau, and that this was not predicted by ANY of the models, is not explained by ANY of the models, and not even taken into consideration by ANY of the models. Surely, this has to lead even you to the conclusion that there may be some errors in the models.

77. Radical Rodent

Conduction and convection may be irrelevant to the greenhouse effect, but then the “greenhouse effect” may be irrelevant to the warming of the Earth. In fact, to use a greenhouse is to use a pretty poor analogy; the Earth is not surrounded by a hard shell of “greenhouse gasses”, with air movements and other causes of potential cooling inside strictly regulated. Create a greenhouse with a thin web of glass (not more than 1% of the total area), and see how effective it is; I doubt you will be able to measure any difference between the “inside” of the greenhouse and outside; what heat there is will have been generated by conduction of the heat from the surfaces to the air in contact with it, and then convected around.

78. Robin Levett

@RedMouse #75:

Please, Robin, tell us, when was the climate perfect?

Perfect for what purpose?

Our civilisation has grown up in a world witha realtviely stable climate; where changes in climate took centuries to happen. Where climate made a given area no longer comfortably habitable, the population upped sticks – literally – and moved somewhere more confortable.

Our current technological civilisation is dependent on, and heavily invested in, a fixed infrastructure in a way it has never been before. A warmer world, depending on how much warmer it gets, will disrupt that civilisation. Crop-growing areas will move (further) away from the equator in many cases onto less fertile and extensive ground. The US/Canadian grain belt is an example; they are already growing grain to the edge of the Canadian Shield. Patterns of rainfall will change; which will affect both agriculture and politics.

As sea levels rise over the longer term, coastal cities may have to be abandoned and ports, harbour and industrial facilities moved inland – where possible. Some smaller insular countries could well disappear.

Rising CO2 will affect the nutritional content of our staple crops – wheat and rice; which will make feeding the world more interesting.cn. What we won’t be able to do is what we did particularly in the 60s, which is throw cheap oil at the problem in the form of transportation, tractors and fertilisation both because we won’t have cheap oil any more, and because burning fossil fuels is what is getting us into the problem in the first place.

We are no longer as agile as we were even a few centuries ago. Our present climate isn’t perfect; but it did condition the way our civilisation developed, and quick changes in climate risk destabilising it in ways we may not be able to foresee.

79. Robin Levett

@Redmouse #76:

Are you aware what a plateau is?

I know what a plateau is.

Suppose I am walking generally uphill over rough ground. I find a high obstable in my path and climb up over it and down the other side, and then resume walking generally uphill over the continuing rough ground. The continuin rise in the ground takes me (modulo the rought terrain) to the point where I am as high as I was on the top of that obstacle. It would be perverse of me to look back and say “Oh look; now I’ve got to the same height as I was when I climbed over that obstacle 15 years ago – I must be on a plateau”.

Look at the facts, as I have, not what you have been fed by the deniers. Every year in the twenty-first century has been hotter than every year in the twentieth, barring only 1998 (although it’s close between 1997 and 2008). Every La Nina (cool) year in the twenty-first century has been hotter than any previous El Nino (warm) year – barring 1998. The last 4 years have been 3 El Ninas and one El Nino. The El Nino – 2010 – was the hottest year on record; the three La Ninas were all within .15C of it.

The Met Office and NASA agree that the numbers show continuing, albeit weaker, warming, in line with the predictions drawn from the models. What the models do not seek to predict is weather – and in this context temperature changes from year to year, or even over 5-10 years, is weather. They do not predict monotonic increases in global temperatures. The climate is complex beast; but one can draw high-level conclusioins from the science without needing to predict the weather in London on January 1 2070 (it would, however, be a fair bet that it would be colder than July 1 2070 in the same place).

80. Robin Levett

@RedMouse #77:

I entirely agree that the term “the greenhouse effect” was poorly chosen. Now deal with what scientists actually mean by the term, rather than its semantic content.

81. Robin Levett

@DocMartyn #72:

You will I hope recall that in my original comment I said:

And your reason for selecting that rather odd (and pretty short) time interval over which to do a point to point calculation (not a trend calculation or a moving average) is?

You insisting that you have calculated “a rate” “over 97 months”; if it is not a point to point calculation, and it is not a trend or a moving average (because of course were it either of those you would simply have corrected my misapprehension at the outset), then what is it? Your explanation looks very like you have calculated the point to point change in temperatures over rolling periods of 97 months and plotted the figures at the 49th month. But (although I can’t see the plot from here) my recollection is that you ahd figures plotted will within the last 4 years. So maybe I’ve misunderstood?

82. Robin Levett

@DocMartyn #72:

You will I hope recall that in my original comment I said:

And your reason for selecting that rather odd (and pretty short) time interval over which to do a point to point calculation (not a trend calculation or a moving average) is?

You insisting that you have calculated “a rate” “over 97 months”; if it is not a point to point calculation, and it is not a trend or a moving average (because of course were it either of those you would simply have corrected my misapprehension at the outset), then what is it? Your explanation looks very like you have calculated the point to point change in temperatures over rolling periods of 97 months and plotted the figures at the 49th month. But (although I can’t see the plot from here) my recollection is that you had figures plotted well within the last 4 years. So maybe I’ve misunderstood?

83. Radical Rodent

Every year in the twenty-first century has been hotter than every year in the twentieth…

Which is precisely why it is referred to as a plateau; since 1998, while there has be no discernible drop in temperature, there has been no significant rise in temperature. Even the IPCC acknowledge that! Why can’t you?

And your frequent use of the term “denier” show you for what you are – none I know of whom you would call a denier is denying anything; all accept that climate changes; climate is not the only immutable thing in the universe. All they display is a (healthy) scepticism of the science that is making predictions that have no correlation with real, observed events.

Have a look at what this chap has to say: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ROw_cDKwc0&feature=player_embedded

84. Robin Levett

And then there’s SMFS #73:

This is a keeper:

Maybe because TSI (over the cycle) has actually dropped over the last 35 years, and hasn’t significantly increased since the middle of the last century?

Which is interesting but irrelevant. Maybe it is an inverse relationship with TSI?

Are you an adherent of homeopathy; because this looks very like a homeopathic approach to thermodynamics? If TSI drops, we get less energy from the sun (since TSI = Total Solar Irradiance – but then you knew that). So you think it’s possible that a reduction in energy received from the Sun could cause an increase in temeprature here on earth? It’s certainly counter-intuitive; but then again the scientific thinking involved is about as respectable as that backing a non-fossil origin of fossil fuels.

Perhaps it is high energy particles, not TSI?

Total Solar Irradiance.

Who knows. It should be investigated and rumour has it the next IPCC will be forced to do more than dismiss it out of hand. We will see.

You agree with the 4AR, then. Good.

Increased water vapour increases warming – until eventually the system reaches equilibrium at a higher temperature than it started.

Except why would there be an equilibrium? If this is so, more warmth means even more water which means even more heating and so on.

Two words – diminishing returns. The temperature increase provided by a given amount of additional water vapour (call it Xppm) (i) decreases with rising temperature and (ii) is not sufficient to increase the water vapour carrying capacity of the atmosphere by Xppm.

What is more it is just wrong – more water vapour means more clouds. The effect of that appear to be negative. So it may cool.

No, more water vapour doesn’t, necessarily, mean more clouds. Clouds are not composed of water vapour. The jury is still out on whether clouds are a slightly positive or a slightly negative feedback; more research is needed.

Stop lying about my position.

Point to a single lie I have made.

Here’s one:

You get the science but you deny it anyway. Yes, CO2 does absorb IR and does re-radiate. But of course the extent to which the CO2 causes the atmosphere to warn is dependent on the feedbacks – in particular H2O vapour.

This is and always has been my position; but here:

In other words, as I said, what happens in the lab does not translate well into the real world. Now you have conceeded my case entirely I shall look forward to an admission you were wrong.

you claim otherwise. Looks at best incorrect, at worst untruthful, to me.

You can’t because I haven’t. You’re blustering because you have f**ked up massively given you simply do not understand the basic science.

Someone who thinks that reducing the (sole) energy input into a system could lead to its heating up, all else being equal, is hardly in a position to cast any stones.

85. So Much For Subtlety

79. Robin Levett

Every year in the twenty-first century has been hotter than every year in the twentieth, barring only 1998 (although it’s close between 1997 and 2008).

Although we only have good data going back to the mid-1970s so this looks like a statement chosen to mislead.

The Met Office and NASA agree that the numbers show continuing, albeit weaker, warming, in line with the predictions drawn from the models.

And this is flatly not true. The “warming” we have seen is greatly below what the models in fact predicted.

What the models do not seek to predict is weather – and in this context temperature changes from year to year, or even over 5-10 years, is weather.

Or as the cliche goes, when temperatures are high it is climate change, when they are low it is weather.

They do not predict monotonic increases in global temperatures.

Barring volcanoes I think they kind of do actually. Which one did not?

Robin Levett

Are you an adherent of homeopathy; because this looks very like a homeopathic approach to thermodynamics? If TSI drops, we get less energy from the sun (since TSI = Total Solar Irradiance – but then you knew that). So you think it’s possible that a reduction in energy received from the Sun could cause an increase in temeprature here on earth?

The climate is a complex system. We do not know how it works. It is a throw-away question worth asking.

Total Solar Irradiance.

So fricking what? It may be that the vast majority of wave lengths have no impact – and thus can rise without any warming – but that high energy particles have a unique influence on cloud formation or something. And so can change and have an impact. Even if everything else is rising.

No, more water vapour doesn’t, necessarily, mean more clouds. Clouds are not composed of water vapour. The jury is still out on whether clouds are a slightly positive or a slightly negative feedback; more research is needed.

Which is criminal considering that in fact this is the key issue for climate change. But “the jury” being out in this context just means the available evidence says that they cool. As here for instance:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn12658-shipping-smoke-plumes-cool-the-atmosphere.html

Notice the link with sulphur particles. We have seen warming since the 1980s. Which is incidentally also a period which has seen massive drops in sulphur in the atmosphere due to a clean up in the West and the collapse of the Soviet Union. It may well be that all that warming is due to an improvment in our air quality.

Here’s one:

Sorry but where? I do not see a lie. What do you think is not an accurate representation of your views?

This is and always has been my position;

Well that is a lie. You think that the world is warming. You have take a position on the feedbacks already. You can’t claim to be open to evidence now.

you claim otherwise. Looks at best incorrect, at worst untruthful, to me.

I can’t claim what otherwise? You started out here denying that it was possible to make a case that what happened in the lab was different from what happened in the real world. You seem to have admitted that you were wrong to do so. Which is nice. But it is not a lie to point that out.

Someone who thinks that reducing the (sole) energy input into a system could lead to its heating up, all else being equal, is hardly in a position to cast any stones.

And that is a flat out lie. Quote me saying so. I asked a question. Which did not even ask what you now claim. You lie and lie and lie. Because of course you know nothing except what you have read on the internet.

I also note a complete retreat from pretty much every position you have taken so far. Good. Progress. You can learn.

86. So Much For Subtlety

79. Robin Levett

The Met Office and NASA agree that the numbers show continuing, albeit weaker, warming, in line with the predictions drawn from the models.

This is not actually true. The lack of warming we have seen is well below that predicted in all the major models. See here:

http://www.drroyspencer.com/2013/06/epic-fail-73-climate-models-vs-observations-for-tropical-tropospheric-temperature/

http://www.drroyspencer.com/2013/06/still-epic-fail-73-climate-models-vs-measurements-running-5-year-means/

But that should not be a surprise. The models are utter rubbish which are “tweaked” to produce something that looks like the past – if the model does not produce the record we have, they fiddle with the inputs until it does. Naturally it is not going to predict the future well and in fact is most likely to produce a straight line showing whatever happened in the past will continue to happen in the future. But it hasn’t.

87. Robin Levett

@SMFS #85:

More later – pushed for time now; but:

Someone who thinks that reducing the (sole) energy input into a system could lead to its heating up, all else being equal, is hardly in a position to cast any stones.

And that is a flat out lie. Quote me saying so.

OK:

Maybe it is an inverse relationship with TSI?

Now perhaps you didn’t understand what TSI meant; that’s understandable, since I used the abbreviation and not the expanded term. But if you did understand what TSI meant, you are here suggesting that reducing the (sole) energy input into the Earth’s climatic system (TSI), might increase Earth surface temperatures.

You did, separately, suggest that the sole energy input into the Earth’s climate system might not be causing any changes in the system, and that the system was dependent upon some as yet unknown effect of high energy particles. But that didn’t change the meaning of your quoted statement above.

“The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will be out from September this year.”

I can’t wait for this. The AR5 report will be much more closley scrutinzed this time around, and the good folks at the IPCC know it. They won’t be able to include the tricks and double talk they did in the AR4, the AR5 will be even more wishy washy and watered down.

Something tells me that the AR5 will be delayed for some reason, perhaps until the spring of 2014 or even into 2015. They have to keep the gravy train rolling along as long as they can after all.

cheers

89. Radical Rodent

To return to the title: How the debate on climate change went wrong, and how we can turn it around.

We could start with, “What debate?” as most of the AGWist scientists refuse to enter into open debate with those more sceptical; so the first part of the statement could be that it went wrong by not actually engaging in any debate; instead, they resort to belittling name-calling, and attempts to destroy the reputations and careers of those scientists who disagreed.

You should then look at why the scientists involved are reluctant to debate with sceptics. Why do they fall back on, almost as a default, “the science is settled” and “the consensus”, despite the simple fact that neither statement is accurate; science is rarely settled, and facts do not depend upon consensus. Then there is the 97%; but 97% of what? The natural assumption is “all scientists”, and that is what is very often thrown back at me. BUT, this figure comes from a survey consisting of two very simple questions that was sent to just under 10,500 scientists; a little over 3,000 replied. However, the results did not come up to the researchers’ wants, so a bit more filtering took place. Eventually, only 77 of the respondents were deemed suitable; of these 77, 75 agreed. Woohooo! 97% agree! Let people know just how many scientists were asked, and then say 97% agree, and – without telling any outright lies – people can be misdirected to coming to the completely wrong conclusion.

So, to answer the original two points: where the debate went wrong – partake in reasoned, open-minded debate. How can it be turned around? Simple – stop the name-calling, stop twisting the truth; stop lying.

90. Robin Levett

@RedMouse:

Find us a dozen peer-reviewed publications by any of the megastars of the denialist firmament in reputable scientific journals that actually put one or more of the many mutually contradictory denialist cases (and hasn’t been absolutely trashed on publication) and then we can talk.

Until the denialists actually do the science, however, there’s no scientific debate to be had with them; and they will continue to be denialists, rather than genuine sceptics. And note that much of the trash-talking, lying and twisting the truth comes from the denialist side. On that last issue; you have yourself cited Dr Jones as stating that there has been no warming (since 1998, you implied, but no matter).

Here is the relevant source exchange for that common denialist talking point:

BBC: Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming

Phil Jones: Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods.

BBC: Do you agree that from January 2002 to the present there has been statistically significant global cooling?

Phil Jones: No. This period is even shorter than 1995-2009. The trend this time is negative (-0.12C per decade), but this trend is not statistically significant.

BBC: Do you agree that natural influences could have contributed significantly to the global warming observed from 1975-1998, and, if so, please could you specify each natural influence and express its radiative forcing over the period in Watts per square metre.

Phil Jones: This area is slightly outside my area of expertise. When considering changes over this period we need to consider all possible factors (so human and natural influences as well as natural internal variability of the climate system). Natural influences (from volcanoes and the Sun) over this period could have contributed to the change over this period. Volcanic influences from the two large eruptions (El Chichon in 1982 and Pinatubo in 1991) would exert a negative influence. Solar influence was about flat over this period. Combining only these two natural influences, therefore, we might have expected some cooling over this period.

BBC: How confident are you that warming has taken place and that humans are mainly responsible?

Phil Jones: I’m 100% confident that the climate has warmed. As to the second question, I would go along with IPCC Chapter 9 – there’s evidence that most of the warming since the 1950s is due to human activity.

(From http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8511670.stm)

So he is saying there is warming, but it just falls short of the 95% confidence level to be considered statistically significant.

And how often do you see the comment that you made accompanied by the statement by Jones, a year later, that another year’s data had pushed the statistical significance of the warming from 1995 over the 95% threshold? You certainly didn’t; indeed I suspect you didn’t even know he made it.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13719510

I have though seen the piece on WUWT that refers to it:

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/06/11/phil-jones-does-an-about-face-on-statistically-significant-warming/

Which starts:

From the “make up your mind” department:

and includes in the comments such polite and reasoned gems as:

“He must have sensed a change in his funding!”

“How Jones has the gall to call himself a “Professor” is beyond me.

He is a Common Purpose stooge taking orders from Brandon Gough, the UEA chancellor.”

“Typical political behavior”

“Nothing to see here -Just more lies, manipulation and twisting in wind by one of the most discredited bought and paid for scientist in the world today.”

“… and besides, we’ve had a whole year to adjust the data from 1995 onward to make sure any trend we want to see would qualify as “significant”.”

“The money continues to flow and his retirement now has financial security. How he will live with his conscience, as clearly he is a consciencious man, I do not know.”

and on and on and on.

I would agree that the quality of the discussion would be significantly improved if name-calling, twisting the truth and lying ceased; but you are deluding yourself if you believe that that is coming from those with the consensus of evidence on their side.

On which point: here is the paper that you refer to – it’s very short, just read it.

But the 97% figure doesn’t just derive from that paper; it is also supported by a rework of the Oreskes paper – see:

http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/8/2/024024/article

and these aren’t the only two papers. What do the denialists have? The Oregon Petition…

91. Robin Levett

@DocMartyn:

Following on from my previous comment; your last comment stated that:

Thus each point in red is the rate of temperature change, for 48 months either side.

The figure you have linked to, however, has data points plotted, so far as I can see by eye (the scale markings aren’t that helpful) right up to date. How did you derive the last 4 years of the plot? The last point that can have been plotted from entirely real-world data – mid-2009 – looks to show warming, although again it is difficult to tell.

So can we look at the friendly data you used, please?

92. Robin Levett

And, preusmably finally to RedMouse, SMFS and DocMartyn:

Science does not progress by nitpicking of existing theories. It progresses by scientists putting forward new theories that both explain existing observations at least as well as current theories, and also make predictions that fit experiment/observations better than current theories.

We know that the Earth’s surface is at a temperature some 30K higher than its blackbody temperature. The accepted explanation for that diference is the Greenhouse Effect; by which I mean the combined forcings of the greenhouse gases and the resultant feedbacks.

The problem facing the denialists is that they have no explanation for that 30K effect other than the Greenhouse Effect. They therefore have to explain why the effect suddenly turns neutral as soon as we reach 30K of warming. Either that, or they have to go back to first principles and show that that 30K of warming was caused by something other than the Greenhouse Effect.

They have not even attempted either of these; and that is why I will continue to call them denialists: they simply deny the current theory, which is supported by the overwhelming consensus of evidence without seeking to put forward any alternative explanation. All the quibbling about how accurate the current climate models are – and of course all models are wrong, but some models are useful – is just that: quibbling. To pick up a point from SMFS: we cannot accurately model the motion of individual models over an aircraft wing, but I haven’t seen any news of aircraft falling out of the skies because the designers got the wing model wrong.

93. Radical Rodent

Robin Levett (90)

As I have repeatedly stated, one cannot have a reasonable argument with someone who insists in using the term “denier” or “denialist”, in a desperate attempt to bolster the rapidly diminishing credibility of his own argument, by belittling his protagonists.

The science is NOT settled; indeed, the science is looking increasingly shaky – you, however, do seem to be in denial about this – let’s face it, you do seem to be in utter denial about the temperature plateau that even those organisations that you consider to be uttering God’s word admit has been a reality since 1998. I could compile a list of publications from respected scientists to prove my point, but you would just dismiss them all as “deniers”, and use that as an excuse to not read them, so why should I bother; Google the character rgbatduke and read some of his work. (Somehow, I doubt you will go to those extremes.) I doubt you have bothered visiting ANY of the sites that myself and others have cited; why do you ask if you are not prepared to look?

Snap out of you own denialism, Robin, and expand your mind – try visiting some of those sites that you are happy to sit down and dismiss as “denialist”, and actually see what they are talking about.

Finally, we are not “nitpicking” the theories espoused about AGW – we are dismissing them as total and utter scams. Not too long ago, you seemed to be in agreement that even the term “Greenhouse Effect” is a long way short of reality; now, you are hiding behind it. Climate needs an atmosphere; without an atmosphere, there can be no climate; all parts of the atmosphere will “…contribute to the overall effect of heat dispersal and retention.

94. Robin Levett

RedMouse:

How did the Earth’s surface get to 30K above black body temperature?

95. Radical Rodent

Oh, I don’t know… perhaps it has something to do with that big light in the sky… Maybe it heats the surface, and that heats the atmosphere, which then circulates (as hot air rises, type of thing), and so spreads the heat around.

Preposterous as it may sound, this is what a lot of people believe.

96. Radical Rodent

Or, Robin Levett, are you suggesting that the reason the Earth’s surface is 30K above black body temperature is because of AGW?

Even Julia Slingo has had to admit that present temperatures are not outside statistical variance, so there is absolutely no case for AGW being a reality.

Or are you in denial about that, too?

97. Robin Levett

@RedMouse:

Before I go further; do you know what is meant by black body temperature? Because your reference to “that big light in the sky” suggests not.

98. Robin Levett

@RedMouse #95 & 96:

I said (#94):
How did the Earth’s surface get to 30K above black body temperature?

To which you replied:

Oh, I don’t know… perhaps it has something to do with that big light in the sky… Maybe it heats the surface, and that heats the atmosphere, which then circulates (as hot air rises, type of thing), and so spreads the heat around.

With respect, this does rather demonstrate that you don’t actually understand the physics even at a qualitative level.

A body radiates energy at a rate proportional to the fourth power of its absolute temperature.

A body’s black body temperature is the temperature at which it is in thermal equilibrium with its surroundings. Specifially in the case of the Earth it is the temperature at which incoming radiative energy from the Sun equals outgoing radiative energy from the Earth’s surface; since the Sun (or “that big light in the sky” as you describe it) is the overwhelming thermal input to the Earth – and radiation energy is the only way that energy can either enter or leave the Earth, given that the atmosphere is surrounded by vacuum.

That temperature, in the absence of an atmosphere containing greenhouse gases, is around 255K (or -18C). Self-evidently, that is not the Earth’s observed surface temperature, which is closer to +15C (or 288K).

In #96 you said:

Or, Robin Levett, are you suggesting that the reason the Earth’s surface is 30K above black body temperature is because of AGW?

The accepted explanation for the difference is the greenhouse effect, as you know, and as I pointed out in my #92.

Treat sunlight delivered to the surface correctly as a heat source heating an object inside a vacuum flask and cooling only by radiation, and it becomes quite clear that absorbing from a high temperature black body (the Sun) in the visible band, but radiating from a much cooler black body (the Earth) in the IR band, creates a situation where adding insulation in the form of atmospheric CO2 that blocks direct radiation from the surface in a chunk of the IR spectrum will raise the temperature of the surface to compensate until equilibrium is maintained, energy in equals energy out.

The Earth is not a closed system. It receives a huge amount of energy in the form of sunlight every day. It loses all of this energy, every day! At least on average. If you reduce the rate of loss in one channel without altering the input, you MUST increase the rate of loss in all other channels until the two balance. The only thing that can increase the rate of radiative loss in the unblocked channels is higher temperature.

With what part of that – if any – do you disagree?

Even Julia Slingo has had to admit that present temperatures are not outside statistical variance, so there is absolutely no case for AGW being a reality.

Firstly, that’s not what she said (I assume you are referring to http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/media/pdf/2/3/Statistical_Models_Climate_Change_May_2013.pdf). Secondly, your second proposition doesn’t follow from your first.

On whether temperature has plateaued since 1998; there are two points. In one sense; this is the wrong question. As I have pointed out, 1998 is an outlier; it was the strongest El Nino on record, so if there were not underlying warming it would have remained out on its own as the hottest year on record. The fact that it is in a statistical tie for that record with two other years, both in the 21st century, neither of them as strong El Nino years as 1998, is a clear indication that there is underlying warming.

Secondly, on the raw data, it all depends on the period you choose, and the dataset you use; and over the timescales we are using, any result is meaningless.

Using GISS anomaly data, 5 year averages for the periods starting 1993, 1998, 2003 and 2008 show warming from 0.33 to 0.50 to 0.59 and a levelling off/slight decline to 0.57 for the last period. If 2013 is simply the average for 2009-12 (0.59), then the numbers change to 0.42, 0.50, 0.57 and 0.59.

Taking overlapping 8 year periods starting with 1998 and ending in 2012, the numbers are 0.54 and 0.59. Again, if 2013 reaches 0.59, the last figure drops slightly to 0.58.

Taking overlapping 10 year periods starting in 1993, 1998 and 2003, we have figures of 0.42, 0.55 and 0.58. Again, if 2013 is as warm as 0.59, then the last figure stays 0.59.

As soon as you start making adjustments for ENSO (and 3 of the last 5 years have been (cooling) La Ninas – there have only been 2 other La Ninas since 1998), the figures will show more pronounced warming; ENSO adds/subracts up to 0.2C between peak and trough.

But none of these numbers are particularly useful – none will reach the standard of statistical significance.

99. Robin Levett

@RedMouse:

And, as must be fairly obvious, I wouldn’t describe Professor Brown as a denialist in relation to the GHE in the same way you appear to be.

100. Radical Rodent

At last, you give a good scientific argument. And to answer your insistence on “denialism” – yes, I do accept that that the world has warmed; yes, I do accept that humans may have contributed some small part to it; yes, I do accept that it could warm further. I doubt that there are many whom you would call “denialist” who would be in disagreement with me; why you persist in applying that label – which many consider equates the principle of scientific scepticism in this case to that of those denying the holocaust – is what I continue to find abhorrent, particularly as it seems to be you who is in denial.

As I have tried to explain by analogy, it does not matter how big the top step, nor how uneven the surface, a plateau is a plateau – wherever you are on a plateau, you will be at roughly the same elevation as any other point on the plateau; you will also be higher than at any point before the plateau is reached. Whether this plateau in global warming is the summit, or merely a stage before further warming, only time will tell, though there are indications that the temperatures are cooling.

One thing that I continue to puzzle over is the apparent insistence that CO2 is the ONLY GHG to consider, while, at the same time, admitting that there are other, more effective, and more prevalent, greenhouse gasses – all of which can be conveniently dismissed as being “transitory”. And why is nearly 99% of the atmosphere disregarded in this idea? Surely, if N2 and O2 cannot absorb the IR radiation, they will also be poor emitters of it? Once warmed by conduction and convection, how good (or poor) are these two gasses at radiating the heat to space? Or perhaps they are not warmed at all, and all the heat we feel in summer (haha) is because of CO2?

The simple fact remains: ALL of the climate models failed to predict this temperature plateau; ALL of the climate models fail to explain this temperature plateau; ALL of the climate models appear to ignore the very existence of this temperature plateau. Until any or all of these points are rectified, I shall continue to be sceptical about AGW, particularly about its catastrophic nature, and about humanity’s ability to influence it in any way whatsoever. Simple, rational observation of history show that global temperatures having risen and fallen through long, still to be fully analysed cycles; why is this present rise any different from similar rises in the past? Please do not berate me with the rate – paleoclimatologists have shown that 1°C per century is about average for changes in the past, so 0.7°C (or 0.8°C or 0.9°C – this figure does seem to be variable) for the last century holds no cause for concern.

101. Robin Levett

@RedMouse #100:

At last, you give a good scientific argument.

I said nothing in the post to which you are replying that I hadn’t already said upthread. It is true that upthread I hadn’t virtually directly quoted rgbatduke – but that doesn’t affect the substance.

In your #62, you said:

Call it the totally unscientific principle of “intuition”, but this whole AGW/ACC farrago is a scam – one used by politicians to further their own ideals and power-grabs, giving them excuses for yet more taxes, yet more control of Jane and Joe Citizen. Scientists use it to protect (and increase) their incomes, influence and egos, and to attempt to destroy any opposition. Others are swept up in the airy-fairy, woolly-minded, nonsensical idea of “saving” the planet/environment/whatever floats their particular boat – but whatever it is, it will cause a massive inconvenience to a lot of others, not just those against whom they bear a particular grudge (usually “big business” in its many and varied shades) in their evangelical zeal.

There have been warming and cooling cycles since time immemorial. This particular cycle may have peaked, or it may not; whatever happens, there is little we can do to affect it, one way or the other. Why get your knickers in such a twist?

Is AGW “a scam”; or is it true that:

the world has warmed; …humans may have contributed some small part to it; …it could warm further.

As for the GHE and your comment that:

One thing that I continue to puzzle over is the apparent insistence that CO2 is the ONLY GHG to consider. while, at the same time, admitting that there are other, more effective, and more prevalent, greenhouse gasses – all of which can be conveniently dismissed as being “transitory”.

Leave the strawman alone and look over here. CO2 is the main current driver of increasing temperature. Other GHGs are increasing under human influence; CH4 for one. But as you dismissively point out, they are indeed transient. H2O’s residence time in the atmosphere is measured in weeks; which means that any extra we pump in one week will have fallen as rain downwind within the next few weeks. The amount of H2O vapour in the atmosphere is limited by the temperature of the atmosphere. If we want to get an increase in heat deriving from H2O over decadal timescales, we need to keep increasing the amount in the atmosphere – which means we need to keep increasing the temperature of the atmosphere; which is why over those timescales, which are the minimum we are interested in, H2O is a feedback not a forcing.

CH4’s residence time is maybe a decade; it breaks down into CO2…

It is not “convenient” that those gases are transient; it is the fact. But your dismissal of that fact as “convenient” is one of the reasons why despite the opening words of your post #100, I still see you as a denialist.

This is another:

And why is nearly 99% of the atmosphere disregarded in this idea? Surely, if N2 and O2 cannot absorb the IR radiation, they will also be poor emitters of it? Once warmed by conduction and convection, how good (or poor) are these two gasses at radiating the heat to space? Or perhaps they are not warmed at all, and all the heat we feel in summer (haha) is because of CO2?

Despite the fact that such people as rgbatduke point out that the only issue is absorption and reradiation of outgoing IR from the Earth’s surface, in which process O2 and N2 have no part, you insist on repeating this claim that they are somehow significant. N2 and O2 will lose heat the same way they gain it; by conduction (remember – a molecule cannot lose heat by convection, which is a bulk transport of heat).

But the heat capacity of N2 and O2 (and CO2) are negligible in any event; the specific heat of each is around 1.0 (ie 1kJ/kg degree K). Each square meter column of the Earth’s atmosphere is around 10 tonnes – equivalent mass to 10m of water. Water’s specific heat is more than 4 times that of the atmosphere; so the top 3.5m of ocean (71% of the Earth’s surface) absorb have the same heat per degree K as the entire atmosphere. The ocean is, on average, more than 4km deep.

And this is another:

…particularly as it seems to be you who is in denial.

As I have tried to explain by analogy, it does not matter how big the top step, nor how uneven the surface, a plateau is a plateau

If it is a plateau – yes. But my point is and has been that over statistically significant timescales, we haven’t had a temperature plateau. We have had a slowdown; but my earlier post shows that over statistically insignificant timescales, we’ve had warming; and that is without taking account of the fact that 1998 was such a huge El Nino. You inisist on trying to attribute significance to temeprature changes that are statistically insignificant; and on repeating debunked claims (such as that Dr Jones agrees there is no warming).

The simple fact remains: ALL of the climate models failed to predict this temperature plateau; ALL of the climate models fail to explain this temperature plateau; ALL of the climate models appear to ignore the very existence of this temperature plateau.

None of the climate models predicted monotonic temperature increases; or indeed any pattern of increase. The noise in the climate system, and the various climatic cycles (eg ENSO), over the short term overwhelm the long term AGW signal. That doesn’t mean that the AGW signal isn’t there.

And this is yet another:

I shall continue to be sceptical about AGW, particularly about its catastrophic nature, and about humanity’s ability to influence it in any way whatsoever.

If you truly accept that humanity’s consumption of fossil fuels has contributed to warming, then that last sentence is denialism, not scepticism. Or, of course, your acceptance is insincere. Take your pick.

102. Robin Levett

@RedMouse:

Just to clarify this;

N2 and O2 will lose heat the same way they gain it; by conduction…

The point here is that at any given conceivable atmospheric temperature, N2 and O2 will not radiate IR, to space or otherwise. The gases in the atmosphere tend to maintain thermal equilibrium, and they will do so by conduction – molecular collisions with other gas molecules. If the N2 and O2 for some reason acquire a higher temperature than the other gases in a given volume (why would they do that?) they will not radiate IR away; instead, they will reach the same temperature as the other gases by the normal process of conduction.

103. Radical Rodent

CO2 is the main current driver of increasing temperature.

Which is why CO2 is soaring, and the temperatures… are not. Hmmm. And I am the one in denial?

…we haven’t had a temperature plateau.

Though NASA, GISS, UKMO and others say that we are. Who is in denial?

repeating debunked claims (such as that Dr Jones agrees there is no warming).

Though he has… Yet more denial. Ho-hum.

Yes, humans have an effect upon the climate. So do termites; so do beavers; so do elephants – and I accept that humans are without a doubt the most effective of them all. The effect, though is local, and is effectively insignificant for the entire planet. Climate has changed in the past, is changing now, and will change in the future. Global temperatures have changed in similar fashion; why is today any different from at any time in the past? Answer: it is not. To say otherwise is to be in truly blind denial. To pretend that we can counter it by giving already-rich people lots of money (which is why I refer to it as a scam, as they often happen to be close to those handing out such largesse) is also denial – unless, of course, you are one who is benefitting. Though you will deny that, of course.

104. Robin Levett

@RedMouse #103:

CO2 is the main current driver of increasing temperature.

Which is why CO2 is soaring, and the temperatures… are not. Hmmm. And I am the one in denial?

Learn the difference between weather and climate, and the meaning of the word equilibrium.

Climate is noisy; year on year variations swamp the warming signal. Only over the longer term (and taking a straight line back to 1998, the strongest El Nino on record, isn’t looking at the longer term – it’s cherrypicking) is the underlying signal visible.

As I’ve shown above, pick your periods and methodology and you can show warming since 1998; or cooling. The statistical significance of the numbers I produced is hugely questionable. Over statistically significant periods, though, the climate is still warming.

…we haven’t had a temperature plateau.

Though NASA, GISS, UKMO and others say that we are. Who is in denial?

You do realise that I didn’t say what you quote me as saying, don’t you? That the opening words of the sentence have a meaning?

As for GISS, CRU and the Met Office, no doubt you can produce cites of them saying there’s a plateau. I’ve seen them talking about continuing long term warming.

GISS (http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/news/20130115/) headlined their news release in January this year “NASA Finds 2012 Sustained Long-Term Climate Warming Trend”.

Met Office, in their response to a piece in the Telegraph in January this year, said;

Small year to year fluctuations such as those that we are seeing in the shorter term five year predictions are expected due to natural variability in the climate system, and have no sustained impact on the long term warming.

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/news/releases/archive/2013/decadal-forecasts

Even the Telegraph story quoted Dr Stott, the previous November, as referrign to slowing, not stopping, of temperature rises.

We know what Jones, at the CRU, has said in the past – see below.

So find me the quotes you rely on and we can see whether they mean what you say they mean.

repeating debunked claims (such as that Dr Jones agrees there is no warming).

Though he has… Yet more denial. Ho-hum.

If you’re referring to the BBC interview – I’ve quoted it above. Can you not read? He said in Feb 2010 that there had been warming since 1995 (the question he was asked), but not statistically significant warming. The following year, with another year’s data, he said there had been statistically significant warming since 1995.

The effect, though is local, and is effectively insignificant for the entire planet.

Local? Please explain? Are we talking about Urban Heat Islands here; the ones that are so effective that the ones in the Arctic have been causing new records for ice minimum volume – http://psc.apl.washington.edu/wordpress/research/projects/arctic-sea-ice-volume-anomaly/ – and extent – http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/charctic-interactive-sea-ice-graph/ – for years now?

If not, what local effect do you see of our pumping GHGs into the atmosphere?

105. Radical Rodent

Ah, yes. “Least ice since records began…” As the records in question began in 1979 (shortly after the scare about the oncoming ice age died a death), let us not get too excited. Consider this report: “The Arctic seems to be warming up. Reports … all point to a radical change in climatic conditions, and hitherto unheard-of high temperatures in that part of the earth’s surface.

“The Norwegian Department of Commerce sent and expedition to Spitzbergen and Bear Island … to survey and chart … take soundings … and make other oceanographic investigations.

“Ice conditions were exceptional. In fact so little ice has never before been noted. The expedition … [sailed] … as far north as 81°29’ in ice-free water. This is the farthest north ever reached with modern oceanographic apparatus.

“[A section of the Gulf Stream was made at 81 north, and sounding to 3,100 metres were taken.] These show the Gulf Stream very warm, and it could be traced as a surface current till beyond the 81st parallel. The warmth of the waters makes it probable that the favourable ice conditions will continue for some time.

“Capt. M–– I–––– has sailed the eastern Arctic for 54 years. He says he first noted the warmer conditions [four years previously] … and that today the Arctic of that region is not as recognizable as the same region of [50 years previous to then].

“Many old landmarks are so changed as to be unrecognizable. Where formerly great masses of ice were found, there are now often moraines… At many points where glaciers formerly extended out into the sea they have entirely disappeared.”

Why has this not made the news? Why has there been no reporting of this incredible adventure, taking a surface vessel so far north? Surely this is yet more proof of the looming catastrophe? Ah, but this is like the surfacing of USS Skate at the North Pole in the winter of 1959 – it is old news; November, 1922, to be precise. It would be interesting to find out how far north surface vessels have been able to get in ice-free water in the present day.

The retreating glaciers are revealing forests long-buried under the ice. Perhaps they were special trees that needed ice piled on top to grow? Of course not – they were forests that existed before the present ice covered them; in other words, it was warmer then that it is now. Why get into a panic about warming now? Oh. Yes. There is a lot of money from getting people to panic – look at Al Gore for inspiration there.

It is a scam. It is a scam leapt upon by governments as another way to filch yet more money out of the tax-payer; it is a scam leapt upon by “green” industries that filch yet more money from – ooh, look! – the tax-payer for schemes that destroy the environment they claim to be preserving; it is a scam leapt upon by some truly atrocious “scientists”, who see it as a good way to filch more money from… Well, you get the idea.

106. Robin Levett

@RedMouse:

Well, you get the idea.

Indeed I get the idea. We’re seeing wholesale melting of the ice across the Arctic, opening up not just the Northwest passage but the Arctic Ocean itself, and you’ll cherry-pick isolated records from earlier in the last century to suggest that this is nothing out of the ordinary, in pursuit of your claim that “it’s all a scam”. Are you suggesting that climatologists as a body are incompetent, or corrupt, or both?

On the specific issue of Arctic ice, Polyak says you’re wrong:

“The ice loss that we see today — the ice loss that started in the early 20th Century and sped up during the last 30 years — appears to be unmatched over at least the last few thousand years…

(see the Science Today article, linked to the paper abstract (the paper’s behind a paywall) here:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100602193423.htm)

Even your Monthly Weather review passage (that’s where your oft-quoted passage comes from) says nothing about whether there was less ice then than today; only whether there was less ice then than before.

107. Radical Rodent

The basic premises of this whole farrago was quite simple:
1. CO2 is a greenhouse gas; increase the levels of this gas will cause a rise in temperature.
2. Errr…. That’s it.

CO2 concentrations have been rising; the temperatures have not. This might be a silly observation, but if the events linked in point 1 no longer appear to be linked, then the original premise is wrong.(“There goes another beautiful theory about to be murdered by a brutal gang of facts.” – Duc de La Rochefoucauld, French writer and moralist)

To paraphrase a well-known scientist, if reality does not match the theory, then the theory is wrong. Yet you refuse to accept that – there must be other factors involved. That perhaps the most significant factor could be that the theory is wrong does not entire the increasingly complex equation.

As Richard Feynman also said: “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.”

Let us turn to other wise minds through history; for your scorn of sceptics: “Scepticism is the highest of duties; blind faith the unpardonable sin.” Thomas Huxley.

Because: “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.” – Bertrand Russell

And: “In the history of science, it has often happened that the majority was wrong and refused to listen to a minority that later turned out to be right.” – Freeman Dyson, American Physicist.

The big difference between us is that you are so certain that you are correct, but I have yet to be convinced. I do not deny that climates are changing; I do not deny that global temperatures are increasing; I am just not convinced that it is quite as simple as is postulated, or that there is anything that we can do about it. Should events prove that you are correct, I will humbly concede; however, events do seem to be proving the opposite, yet you refuse to consider any doubts about your certainty – the entire crowd of climate change activists insist that any event is yet more proof: a heat wave – proof! A cold snap – proof! Floods – proof! Droughts – proof! A pretty average storm – proof! Forest fires – proof!… Hold on! Go back: “Forest fires – proof!”? WTF? Yet this was claimed by many during the Australian fires of last year (even though the eucalyptus forest ecosystem requires fire); I have little doubt that the same will be said of the Arizona fires this year.

As you cling to your certainty, consider Voltaire: “Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd

108. Robin Levett

@RedMouse #107:

The basic premises of this whole farrago was quite simple:
1. CO2 is a greenhouse gas; increase the levels of this gas will cause a rise in temperature.
2. Errr…. That’s it.

CO2 concentrations have been rising; the temperatures have not. This might be a silly observation, but if the events linked in point 1 no longer appear to be linked, then the original premise is wrong.(“There goes another beautiful theory about to be murdered by a brutal gang of facts.” – Duc de La Rochefoucauld, French writer and moralist)

Eppur si muove

Your problem is this; you don’t seem to understand that the basis of the theory is not statistical. It is established by laboratory experiment that trying to pass IR light (of the wavelengths produced by the Earth’s surface) through CO2 gas results in backscatter of that light. The CO2 absorbs photons – which ex hypothesi are travelling in one direction and re-radiates them in all directions. That irrefutable effect must result in an increase in temperature of the radiating surface. It cannot not do so.

We also know (from thermodynamics) that if there were no hindrance to radiation (as long-wave infra-red) by the Earth’s surface of the energy it absorbs from the Sun as visible and short-wave infra-red light, the temperature of the surface would be some 33K lower than it in fact is. We’ve known for 150 years that it is CO2 and other GHGs acting together that produced that 30-33K increase.

We also have orbital spectroscopy showing that there is indeed decreased outgoing IR radiation in the bands affected by increasing CO2 concentrations.

Unless either the lab experiments on CO2’s absorption; thermodynamics; or the AIRS satellite; are all wrong/defective, then a tendency to increased temperature as a result of increasing CO2 in the atmosphere is certainty. The question is the feedback mechanisms; how powerful are they, and to what extent do they decrease in effectiveness as temperature and CO2 concentration increase? Any answer to those questions must still explain the 33k difference between the Earth’s black-body surface temperature and its actual surface temperature.

Again, what is important is equilibrium temperatures; the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans are a complicated system full of sources and sinks, forcings and feedbacks. It will take years for the warming expected from the current levels of CO2 fully to show itself.

There are also mechanisms operating (ENSO for one; the AMO for another) that operate independently of the GHE to affect the Earth’s surface temperature. Those effects, year to year, overwhelm the effect year by year of the GHE; hence there is no expecation of monotonic temperature increases to be evident, and no-one has ever argued that there would be such.

For example, in 2008, Keenlyside predicted that weakening in the AMO to its long term mean would offset the predicted anthropogenic warming over the following decade; but that thereafter the warming would resume and indeed be intensified as the oscillation…oscillated.

With all that in mind, the claim that the temperature has plateaued from a cherry-picked year that just happened to be the strongest El Nino year on record, even if true over the period cocnerned, says nothing whatsoever about whether the underlying warming from CO2 is continuing. A strong El Nino adds up to 0.1K to the Earth’s surface temperature; a strong La Nina subtracts the same. The La Ninas in 2009, 11 and 12 are all within .15K of 1998; the latter two within 0.1K. Simply adjusting for ENSO puts 1998 as cooler than those years.

So I don’t accept your premise that there has been no (underlying) warming that could have been caused by CO2. And, given that the mechanisms said to be operating so as to produce AGW are derived from and supported by uncontroversial science, it is for you to show clearly and uneqivocally that there has been no warming.

By continuing to pump massive quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere, we are carrying out an experiment the effects of which, if the “warmists/alarmists” (or, as they are usually termed, the scientists working in the field) are right, would vary from the significant to the possibly catastrophic, and would be irreversible within human lifetimes.

109. Radical Rodent

You might be surprised to find out what I have never tried to hide: I do not deny that climates are changing; I do not deny that global temperatures are increasing; I am just not convinced that it is quite as simple as is postulated, or that there is anything that we can do about it. As for “cherry-picking”, the top step will always be the top step, no matter where you move away from it on the landing; to accuse me of cherry-picking 1998 is disingenuous in the extreme. A plateau is a plateau, and the point at which the rise levels off to become a plateau does not – cannot! – change. If we move this argument into the 22nd century, 1998 will remain the levelling-point of this particular plateau; should 2030 be the year when the rise resumes, I will not accuse you of “cherry-picking” should you constantly refer to it. Of course, this apparent squirming over a fact could be that are you in denial about what almost every other climate scientist is admitting – that the temperatures have not risen by any significant amount since 1998.

You may also find it odd, but I have no disagreement with you about CO2 absorbing energy. As CO2 has been considerably higher at times in the past, often during ice ages, and the CO2 levels were lower than the present during the mediaeval warming period (when the temperatures were even higher than now), could you not consider the possibility that it might be that CO2 is NOT the significant driver of climate that is claimed.

Why you consider me a “denialist” because when I hear a theory (rising CO2 will cause rising temperatures) and see the reality (rising CO2 and no rising temperatures), I come to the conclusion that the theory might be wrong is quite a remarkable leap of logic, especially as it seems to be you in complete and utter denial.

110. Derek Hattons Tailor

“and that their desire for action to tackle climate change depends on the extent to which they think it’s happening”.

Why is this a misconception ? If it’s not happening then why do anything about it. Why call the fire brigade unless your house is on fire ?

The warmists lost (and it has been lost) the debate because people realised 3 things

1) (The older ones) There is no reliable long term correlation between CO2 and the climate. I am old enough to remember being told in the early 90s that by now “Kent will be underwater”. Last time I checked it was still, unfortunately, dry land. It isn’t getting warmer.
2) (The intelligent ones) Even if it is, it won’t be the end of the world
3) (Everyone else) Enriching government/big business is not going to solve it

111. Radical Rodent

Derek Hatton’s Tailor – summed up most succinctly, thank you. It is good to get another viewpoint on here.

BTW, if Kent were underwater, and your moniker reveals your location, then it is probable that you would have wet feet, too, unless you are South of the river, on Bidston Hill.

112. Robin Levett

@DHT #110:

The warmists lost (and it has been lost) the debate

If so, that is a pity because the world around us doesn’t take much notice of debates. It gets on and does its thing.

because people realised 3 things

1) (The older ones) There is no reliable long term correlation between CO2 and the climate.

Untrue.

I am old enough to remember being told in the early 90s that by now “Kent will be underwater”. Last time I checked it was still, unfortunately, dry land. It isn’t getting warmer.

Since I live in Kent, and hove done for most of my life, I suspect I might have taken notice of such a claim. Do you have any references for this?

2) (The intelligent ones) Even if it is, it won’t be the end of the world

With which virtually everyone agrees. It would involve drastic adjustments of our civilisation, however, and the effects on the ecosystems on which we rely for our survival could be very significant indeed.

3) (Everyone else) Enriching government/big business is not going to solve it

Correct me if I’m wrong, but this again is surely agreed across the board?

113. Robin Levett

@RedMouse #109:

As for “cherry-picking”, the top step will always be the top step, no matter where you move away from it on the landing; to accuse me of cherry-picking 1998 is disingenuous in the extreme. A plateau is a plateau, and the point at which the rise levels off to become a plateau does not – cannot! – change. If we move this argument into the 22nd century, 1998 will remain the levelling-point of this particular plateau

We’ve been around this particular merry-go-round a few times, but: you have yet to demonstrate that there has been a plateau. We had, in 1998, the highest global average temperature we have recorded; call it, a once in a century temperature. That was on the back of the strongest El Nino ever recorded, which probably added a minimum 0.1K to that temperature.

We have since had two warmer years, 2005 and 2010 (albeit both were in a statistical tie with 1998). Neither year was a strong El Nino – in fact we haven’t had a strong El Nino this century; 2005 was at best neutral, and 2010 at best a weak El Nino. Taking away the ENSO effect puts 1998 as cooler than virtually every year this century.

Putting it differently; temperatures dropped from 1998 to a low in 2000, since when there has been no cooler year.

So I question whether there has indeed been a plateau – a cessation of the warming arising from CO2. I prefer to take the assessment of whether underlying warming is continuing from those paid to know; the climatologists; and they say it is continuing. I note that you have produced nothing to counter the references I have given upthread to that effect.

Of course, this apparent squirming over a fact could be that are you in denial about what almost every other climate scientist is admitting – that the temperatures have not risen by any significant amount since 1998.

I think you must have missed my post where I point out that if you choose your period carefully you can show rise or fall in temperatures; but that over so short a period none of it is significant. Again; it is probably cooler today than on the same day in 1998, but that doesn’t mean (in any meaningful way) that global average temperatures have fallen since 1998. And the climatologists agree that there has been (underlying) warming.

As CO2 has been considerably higher at times in the past, often during ice ages, and the CO2 levels were lower than the present during the mediaeval warming period (when the temperatures were even higher than now), could you not consider the possibility that it might be that CO2 is NOT the significant driver of climate that is claimed

Nobody is saying that CO2 is the sole driver of the climate. That would be ludicrous; solar, orbital and even tectonic forcings are also important over various timescales. What they are saying is that the driver of today’s warming is the addition of large quantities of fossil carbon – in the form of CO2 – to the carbon cycle, leading to an increase concentration in the atmosphere.

As for the MWP; globally, it was cooler than today. In the Northern Hemisphere, it perhaps approached current temperatures. Anthropogenic CO2 was not the cause of the warmth; that is thought to be increased solar activity and decreased volcanic activity.

As for ice ages; I note you use lower case. During the Ice Ages of the recent past, CO2 was lower than the immediately pre-industrial average. Orbital forcings put us into ice ages, and brought us out; once out, CO2 was expelled from the oceans as they warmed and pushed temperatures higher.

During the ice age 450mya, atmospheric CO2 content was much higher than today; but the Sun was cooler, and the continents were differently placed.

<blockquote.Why you consider me a “denialist” because when I hear a theory (rising CO2 will cause rising temperatures) and see the reality (rising CO2 and no rising temperatures), I come to the conclusion that the theory might be wrong is quite a remarkable leap of logic

The reason is this. There is a quite clear solidly-based mechanism, which you say you accept, which should mean that rising CO2 will, when equilibrium is reached, lead to higher temperatures. Climatologists are at pains to point out that the AGW signal will be swamped by weather noise, including phenomena such as ENSO and the AMO, and publish papers about the effects that such phenomena will have on the headline global average temperature.

As things stand; if there were no global warming, the effect of those phenomena – particularly ENSO – is that 1998 would still stand alone as the highest global average temperature recorded. No year before or since has coem close to the strength of that El Nino. There would be a downslope. You refuse to recognise that, were you correct that temperatures had plateaued, that in itself would be good evidence of continuing underlying warming.

Together with that, you repeat denialist talking ponts even when they have been shown false – your claim that Jones said there had been no warming, even after I had posted the source for this inexactitude, comes to mind.

Do you still say that O2 and N2 are greenhouse gases, despite rgbatduke’s explanation to the contrary, and your implied acceptance of his word as authoritative?

114. Radical Rodent

Okay, let us consider you right. What does it mean? What should be done about it? Is there anything that can be done about it? What are you doing about it?

115. Derek Hattons Tailor

@112

1) (The older ones) There is no reliable long term correlation between CO2 and the climate.

“Untrue”.

So why did it stop getting warmer in 98, Did CO2 stop going up then as well ? Why was it warmer 600 years ago than now, how do you explain the fact that most of the planet was under ice and now it isn’t. Maybe the sun has something to do with it ?

I am old enough to remember being told in the early 90s that by now “Kent will be underwater”. Last time I checked it was still, unfortunately, dry land. It isn’t getting warmer.

“Since I live in Kent, and hove done for most of my life, I suspect I might have taken notice of such a claim. Do you have any references for this?”

Ludicrous claims by climate change (it was called “the greenhouse effect” back then) spivs surprise you ? My reference is a joke at a party 20 years ago, but I’m sure you’d find something in the Guardian archive circa 92.

3) (Everyone else) Enriching government/big business is not going to solve it

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but this again is surely agreed across the board?”

You are wrong. Warmists have argued passionately that we should all pay for windmills through higher power bills, they support EU dictats that an increasing % of power be generated from “renewables”, that we all pay more to put cars on the road, that we should pay fines for not recycling, put up with gridlock to accommodate public transport and cycle lanes etc etc. Paying more to save the planet is a central tenet of warmists (how else can you change behaviour) amazed that you seem unaware of that.

116. Radical Rodent

…did it stop getting warmer in 98, Did CO2 stop going up then as well ?

You’re missing the point, DHT; the temperature may not have risen, but it is really rising, because CO2 is the main driving force of climate, except there are some other factors that make it not so. This is why temperatures are rising at below average rates, sea levels are rising by imperceptible amounts, climates are changing to dangerous levels of normality, and someone, somewhere, is getting the brunt of some adverse weather. That this has happened throughout the history of the planet is irrelevant as, this time, it is all the fault of humans, and something must be done!.

That this something involves separating the general population from their hard-earned and giving it to already-wealthy people (and their hangers-on) is a given; after all, it is all for our own good, no matter how much it looks (and feels) to the contrary.

…amazed that you seem unaware of that.

There is a whole swathe of people who are prepared to rewrite history to prove their point – have you not noticed that the fear of an oncoming ice age that existed in the 1970s is being air-brushed out of history? Facts are not important – it is “the message” for “the cause” (both are terms that can be found in the infamous Climategate 2 e-mails) that is important. It is yet another string to the bow of control that a coterie wishes to exercise over us. You may have noticed that many of those exhorting us to reduce our dependence on “Big Oil” are amongst the higher users of it, jetting hither and thither to their many, many conferences?

117. Robin Levett

@RedMouse #114:

Very quick response; massively reduce our civilisation’s dependence on fossil-fuels and re-organise to make it possible for individuals to use less carbon-intensive energy for transport etc.

Me? We’ve had this go-around before, you can look back at my previous answers. It isn’t relevant to the science.

118. Robin Levett

@DHT #115:

Long term relationship between CO2 and temeprature? Why is it that 1998, an exceptional year, is as far back as you are willing to go to look for such a recent long term relationship?

As for the rest of that issue: read the thread, all your talking points are addressed.

Kent underwater? This seems to boil down to someone once joked about this with you at a party. So what? If you want to claim it was also said in the Grauniad, go and do the research yourself.

As for “enriching” all and sundry. When you go shopping, do you describe this as “enriching Lord Sainsbury/Cohen/Sieff” or “buying groceries”?

119. Robin Levett

@RedMouse:

Denialists criticise climatologists for ignoring natural variability/cycles/the Sun in their calculations.

When climatologists point out that they haven’t ignored those issues, and that taking account of precisely the matters that denialists wish them to take account of the figures show that there is continued warming, denialists insist that the only thing that matters is the headline temperature figure, and natural variability/cycles/the Sun are irrelevant.

120. Radical Rodent

Robin Levett, your naiveté is truly astounding: “massively reduce our civilisation’s dependence on fossil-fuels…” How? “…re-organise to make it possible for individuals to use less carbon-intensive energy for transport…” How? Perhaps you think that solving the problem of malaria is as simple: become a doctor, find a cure, and give it to everyone suffering. You are displaying the thinking of teenager. Should you be older than that, I suspect that you are either a teacher, or a college lecturer, and have had little contact with the world outside the groves of Academe. What you refuse to consider is that your continued reference to me, and others as sceptical as myself, as “denialist” renders your argument as valid as that of a flat-Earther or faked lunar landings. I, and most (if not all) of the sceptics, are not in denial about anything in this discussion; we are merely sceptical of the theory (in particular, the “C” and “A” prefixes):

1. A rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration will cause a global temperature rise.
2. Er… that’s it.

If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science. Richard Feynman.

Good science is ruthless science. If theories are disconfirmed by real world experience then, as Feynman said, they are wrong. However, there is a problematic escape route for the dodgy scientist – ad hoc hypotheses.

From Wikipedia

Scientists are often skeptical [sic] of theories that rely on frequent, unsupported adjustments to sustain them. This is because, if a theorist so chooses, there is no limit to the number of ad hoc hypotheses that they could add. Thus the theory becomes more and more complex, but is never falsified. This is often at a cost to the theory’s predictive power, however. Ad hoc hypotheses are often characteristic of pseudoscientific subjects.

The theory has now been “ad hocced” so many time that it is now utterly unfalsifiable: anything and everything is now used as more “proof” to support the theory, even if it is the direct opposite of what was predicted, such as the forecast drought in the UK last summer, the more severe hurricanes brewing, or the “kids will not know what snow is” claim. I have the suspicion that snow in Singapore and Kent groaning under a mile of ice would be yet more “proof” for you.

Stop referring to those like me with what many consider an offensive label, loaded as it is with connections to those who deny the holocaust. Should you really want that title to be bandied about, then it is YOU who are in denial, as I have pointed out many, many times in this post: it is YOU who is the denialist! Until you can open your tight, little mind to the feasibility that your precious beliefs might be wrong, you can go and bay at the moon.

121. Robin Levett

@RedMouse:

Have you got that out of your system?

Good. Now read the thread slowly. Look at who has been actually citing and explaining the science behind the theory; and who has been refusing to engage with that science. You accept the science, or so you claim; but refuse to follow that science to its logical conclusion.

As for ad-hoccing; if – as all scientists agree – the greenhouse effect is what keeps Earth’s average temperature above freezing, why would it suddenly stop working now? Why is the current global average temperature the exact temperature at which all the feedbacks turn negative so as to stop any further warming from CO2? If adding some CO2 causes warming, where is the denialist theory for why adding more CO2 would not cause more warming? It seems to be the height of adhoccery to point to the remaining uncertanties in the models as the place where that sudden change in the sign of feedbacks is hiding. When I was regularly contributing to talk.origins, this was described as a “God of the gaps argument”. Or have you got an explanation for the 33K difference between the Earth’s blackbody temperature and its actual temperature tnat doesn’t involve GHGs?

You came into this thread claiming your money was on it being the Sun. Are you still of that view, now you know that TSI has actually dropped over the period when the temperature has been rising?

More fundamentally – you refuse to recognise that there is a difference between weather and climate. That is evident by your reference to the forecast of an individual weather event as being a failure of climatology.

There are obvious circumstances in which an overall rise in global average temperatures could lead to local cooling, because of disturbances to the systems. One obvious (although now thought unlikely) is a diversion of the Gulf Stream as a result of warmer temperatures putting more freshwater into the North Atlantic.

You make allegations about what scientists have said, but when faced with proof that the allegation is untrue, go quiet before repeating the allegation. Take Professor Jones: he did not not say that there had been no warming since 1997; he said there had been warming, but that that warming was not at the time statistically significant. And yet even after my quoting the BBC interview in question, you repeated the claim.

You reject the label denier, but I haven’t called you that. I have called you a denialist.

I don’t accept the AGW theory by choice; but at present it holds the scientific field by virtue of there being no real scientific arguments against it.

122. Robin Levett

@RedMouse:

One problem may be that you are fixated on temperature, whereas the real issue is heat. More heat in a system means, when the system reaches equilibrium, a higher average temperature; but local effects, changes in the effectiveness of sinks as a result of physical effects (which changes are essentially what ENSO is) etc affect how temperature rises to that equilibrium.

Oh, and I couldn’t let this pass from your #116:

sea levels are rising by imperceptible amounts

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/10/a-sea-level-golden-horseshoe-nominee/

Or:

Geological data indicate that there was an increase in the rate of sea-level rise in the late 19th and/or early 20th century, and that the sea level rose during the 20th century at a much faster rate than the last few centuries and millennia (Fig. 7). In situ and satellite data indicate an increase in the rate of rise since 1870 and that the sea level is currently rising at a faster rate than at any time during the last 130 years. The sea level is projected to continue to rise at an increasing rate during the 21st century.

http://academics.eckerd.edu/instructor/hastindw/MS1410-001_FA08/handouts/2008SLRSustain.pdf

Read the paper – it’s not particularly dense.

123. Radical Rodent

One last try, before I leave you to your baying:

121:

…you refuse to recognise that there is a difference between weather and climate.

Erm, where? I have pointed out that many, many instances of weather are used to claim “proof” of AGW; how does that make it me who is refusing to recognise the difference? (Unless you think that snow in Singapore or Kent under a mile of ice are just “weather”. No. No-one could be that dense.)

You reject the label denier, but I haven’t called you that…

Nor have I say you did. Another “fact” wrong. As for “denialist”, surely that should be the label for one who is in constant denial – e.g. denial about the temperature plateau or denial about reality diverging from the climate models. I am in denial about nothing, though am sceptical about much.

Very, very few of the sceptics deny that the climate is changing; I have little doubt all acknowledge that it is changing – as it has over the many millennia of the life of this planet – what we doubt (i.e. are scpectical about) is that this change has been caused solely by human use of fossil fuels. If you cannot get (or refuse to acknowledge) that simple fact right, how can I trust you to get more complicated facts right?

124. Robin Levett

@RedMouse #123:

On a point of explanation; Holocaust-denier is the expression. I deliberately do not use that word, for that reason, and yet you accuse me of using a word laden with Holocaust significance.

Neither climatologists nor I make any claim that CO2 is the sole influence on climate, historically speaking. There are many others – including your favourite the Sun.

But the Sun has slightly reduced its supply of energy over the last 50 years; yet temprrature has increased. I;ve given you the references.

So do you still say that the temperature change we have observed may have arisen from solar forcing?

125. Robin Levett

@RedMouse #123:

As for “denialist”, surely that should be the label for one who is in constant denial – e.g. denial about the temperature plateau or denial about reality diverging from the climate models.

Temperature plateau? That depends on whether you take into account any of the other influences on climate that the climatologists acknowledge. Later today I will post some 5-year running averages centred on 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010, (crudely) adjusting for ENSO. I predict that your “plateau”, such as it is, will disappear – but I haven’t done the figures yet. My intention is to adjust the figures up/down by 0.035/0.07/0.1K for weak/moderate/strong La Nina/El Nino years – leaving neutral years alone. That will prove nothing statistically but will give an impression of where the truth lies.

Here’s a piece summarising at a popular level the current state of knowledge of ENSO:

https://blogs.nicholas.duke.edu/thegreengrok/el-nino-la-nina-and-global-warming/

I’ll use the GISS data, and this website to identify the ENSO status:

http://ggweather.com/enso/oni.htm

Bear in mind that this underestimates the eefect of El Nino in 1998, which Trenberth found to be closer to 0.2K upward:

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.167.1208&rep=rep1&type=pdf.

And why do I predict that the “plateau” will disappear? Because the only reason that temepratures in the 21st century haven’t beaten 20th century temperatures hollow is that 1998 was ths strongest El Nino on record. Adjusting for that known (massive) influence on the temperature record will make any underlying signal more visible.

As for divergence from climate models:

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/02/2011-updates-to-model-data-comparisons/

As for your refusal to recognise the difference between weather and climate, this was the claim I referred to:

anything and everything is now used as more “proof” to support the theory, even if it is the direct opposite of what was predicted, such as the forecast drought in the UK last summer, the more severe hurricanes brewing, or the “kids will not know what snow is” claim.

One of these three is not like the other two…

As for more severe hurricanes – why would adding energy to a system not result in more energetic weather events.

126. Robin Levett

@RedMouse:

Following on from my #125, the numbers are:

1998 = 0.47
2002 = 0.54
2006 = 0.46
2010 = 0.60

which rather suggests that while it’s been a bit up and down, there’s been no plateau since 1998.


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