Global Warming May Take a Holiday and That's a Problem

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Reuters is reporting that a new article in Nature argues that we can expect global average temperatures to stagnate, or even cool a bit, for the next decade or so. That's right, no global warming for a while. Why do researchers think this will happen? According to Reuters:

Natural climate changes may offset human-caused global warming over the next decade, keeping ocean temperatures the same or even temporarily cooling them slightly, German researchers said on Wednesday.

However, this short-term situation might create a problem if policymakers regarded it as a sign they could ease efforts to limit greenhouse gases or play down global warming.

"The natural variations change climate on this timescale and policymakers may either think mitigation is working or that there is no global warming at all," said Noel Keenlyside, a climate researcher at the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences in Germany who led the study.

Climate researchers have long predicted more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere would spur a general warming trend over the next 100 years. The study in the journal Nature is one of the first to take a shorter-term view.

This is useful because natural changes as opposed to human causes may play a bigger role in the short term, Keenlyside said.

His team made a computer model that takes into account natural phenomena such as sea surface temperatures and ocean circulation patterns.

They checked their work by producing a set of forecasts using data recorded over the past 50 years and found the retrospective forecasts were accurate, Keenlyside said.

Keenlyside immediately identified the real problem lurking in his prediction:

"This is important because policies are made in the short term," Keenlyside said. "Our results show we might not have as much change in climate over the next 10 years."

http://www.tocque-ville.it/images/rn/payne0117b.jpg

At the Bali Climate Change Conference in December the world's governments committed to finalizing a new treaty by 2009 to control the emissions of greenhouse gases thought to be warming the atmosphere. At the Bali Conference I was heartened to hear the following prediction from the U.K.'s climate modelers at the Hadley Centre:

"We are now using the system to predict changes out to 2014. By the end of this period, the global average temperature is expected to have risen by around 0.3 degrees Celsius compared to 2004, and half of the years after 2009 are predicted to be hotter than the current record hot year, 1998."

I noted:

Since various temperature records—surface, satellite and weather balloons—have shown a temperature trend that increases at about 0.2 degrees per decade or less, this is a truly bold prediction.

I was heartened by the Hadley Centre prediction because it gives the world a chance to validate the predictions of climate models for future man-made warming in a policy relevant time frame. However, if the new research is correct, there will not be a strong empirical global warming signal in the next few years. That means the world's governments will largely be trusting the outputs of computer models as they try to effect vast changes in how the world's economy is fueled. That's very troubling.

Hat tip to H&R commenter Mick.

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  1. Evidence that global warming is not a problem should not be confused as evidence that global warming is not a problem.

  2. PIRS,

    Your thread gave me a headache.

  3. Evidence that global warming is not a problem IN THE NEAR TERM should not be confused as evidence that global warming is not a problem IN THE LONG TERM.

    There, fixed that for ya.

    Ron,

    I am a bit confused as to why you are worried that improved modeling of the near-term consequences is negative for the policy debate. It should improve the long-term modeling as well, allow for a more realistic picture of the impact of various policy options.

    No?

  4. In the long term we are all dead.

  5. Neu Mejican, how long are you talking? Because the Earth has had ice ages and balmy periods long before the Industrial Revolution. In fact, global climate changes occurred before Homo sapiens even existed.

  6. Neu: How do you know that the models are right unless they are eventually empirically validated? That is, the temps behave as predicted. In this case, if temps stay steady or go down, either the new model is right or man-made global warming is exaggerated–how do you tell the difference?

    Retrodicting isn’t good enough because you can never be sure that your “tuning” actually took real physical effects accurately into account.

  7. @New Mejican:

    I’m guessing its because we won’t be able to corroborate the computer data with short term information, because natural cooling could offset global warming in the short run. Now even if global warming doesn’t happen (in the short-run), we won’t know if its because AGW is weaker than expected or because of some short term random cooling.

    In other words, we’ll be guided only by long term projections not empirical evidence.

  8. sorry, Ron got in before me, lol.

  9. @PIRS

    Thats true, but it also isn’t really evidence against climate change.

  10. “That’s true, but it also isn’t really evidence against climate change.”

    Actually, it is evidence FOR climate change; just not man-made climate change. As for man-made climate change I am agnostic. But, even if man-made climate change DOES exist this does not inherently mean we should “do something about it.” Not all man-made changes are inherently bad.

  11. @PIRS

    Well, I think Global Warming will be more bad than good. The real question is how much technological advancement will offset the bad.
    I think it could make global warming fairly irrelevant within 20 to 30 years.

  12. I still think we are ignoring all the dinosaur-made climate changes that we’re still having to clean up. It’s no mere coincidence that dino bones turned into oil and made so much of the ground above it unsuitable for vegetation. We must pump this shit out of the earth as fast as possible or billions of people will starve.

  13. I believe a certain someone told me to “fuck off” when I suggested that even global cooling would be eventually claimed as “proof” of global warming.

    I’ll collect my pound of flesh later.

  14. Wait! Wasn’t it just the other day when Reason was telling us that 97% of scientists said anthropogenic warming was occuring? Did I just imagine myself getting raked over the coals for daring to have a skeptical attitude? So WTF is this article? It must be the minority report from that remaining 3%! Clearly they didn’t get the news that an election was held to determine the science, and that they lost.

    How do you know that the models are right unless they are eventually empirically validated?

    Because the Almighty Media said so? These guys may not be able to find their ass with both hands, but dammit it, they know how to distill a dense fifty page scientific paper into a thirty second soundbite!

  15. Ron, you can’t know if the models are accurate. On the other hand, if they are even close to being right, we know we can’t wait to validate them. You have to make a best guess based on the most likely scenarios. That means significant action now. Guessing happens all the time in our personal lives, in our businesses, and in politics. Why can’t libertarians and conservatives admit the obvious – that common sense, thousands of peer-reviewed scientific papers, and oodles of computer models all indicate that there is a likely problem that is best mitigated by starting early?

  16. I seek disclosures!!!!!!

    How about your forward-looking beachfront property investments in West Virginia, Ron? WHAT ARE YOU HIDING!!!

  17. “I believe a certain someone told me to “fuck off” when I suggested that even global cooling would be eventually claimed as “proof” of global warming.”

    Does that certain someone stand about 4’11” with boots on?

  18. Climate modelling may be better than worthless. It hasn’t been proven to this skeptic that it is.

    That said, I still believe that anthopogenic climate change (global warming) is a reality. I also believe it is not an apocolyptic danger to humanity or even industrial civilization. I’d really like to be wrong about the first statement and right about the second. I think the worry here is if the average global temperature drops for a decade, it will be cited as evidence that nothing needs to be done. Not by me, but by many, including policy makers.

    It’s a noisy graph plotted with less than ideal data whether you plot by the year or by the decade. When the graph goes down, lot’s of folks are gonna say, “See, there is no problem”. I saw that on a recent Hit & Run thread over a mere one year temperature drop. And remember, most H&R commenters are smarter than the average American. Even many of the ones I call dumbasses, retards and fools.

  19. Chad | April 30, 2008, 7:30pm | #

    Ron, you can’t know if the models are accurate.

    Appeal to ignorance is always a sound basis for policy

  20. Brandybuck, not all scientists are climatologists. If I found a poll that indicated “97% of U.S. restaurant owners offer forks but not chopsticks in their restaurants” this would say nothing about Chinese restaurants in particular.

  21. I believe a certain someone told me to “fuck off” when I suggested that even global cooling would be eventually claimed as “proof” of global warming.

    I’ll collect my pound of flesh later.

    Let’s say I killed joe by clubbing him on the head with a really big tree limb and then either ate his remains or fed his remains to wild animals. Would my carbon footprint be increased, decreased, or exactly the same?

    Eventually we’ll harness atmospheric carbon into energy, but first we need enough of it to make it economically viable to do so.

  22. Ron, you can’t know if the models are accurate. On the other hand, if they are even close to being right, we know we can’t wait to validate them. You have to make a best guess based on the most likely scenarios. That means significant action now.

    Who says?

    The best guesses are that the optimal way to address future climate change today is to apply a tax on CO2 emissions that turns out to be less than 10 cents per gallon when applied to gasoline.

    Where did you acquire your “significant action now” platitudes?

  23. Cool, so global warming is basically unfalsifiable… at least in the short term? Or is it that the only proof of global warming will be global cooling?

    The real world is just too complicated.

  24. Correct andy_d,

    On a personal level, unfalsifiableness(as real a word as yours) is a hallmark of religion.

  25. So a scientist is skewing his words in favor of policies.

    Great.

  26. Ron, Kevin,

    Correct me if I am wrong here, but since the long-term models and the short-term models are modeling the same underlying processes, the short term models allow us to verify in the near term and decrease, somewhat, our certainty about the long term projections.

    If the short-term models pan out (no matter what they predict) you have (at least some) prospective verification of the underlying principles used to make the prediction. This works even if they predict cooling followed by warming.

    No?

    JsubD,

    I think the worry here is if the average global temperature drops for a decade, it will be cited as evidence that nothing needs to be done. Not by me, but by many, including policy makers.

    That makes sense, but Ron seemed to have the opposite worry…that the global cooling would make it more likely that something that didn’t need to be done would be done because evidence was not available to show that it didn’t need to be done (please excuse the quadruple negatives there).

    PIRS…sorry, but your comments are too far off-topic to respond to. You can search through the archives if you want my responses to similar comments.

  27. Uhmmm…oops

    our certainty = our uncertainty

    or

    increase our certainty…

    take your pick.

  28. “Clearly they didn’t get the news that an election was held to determine the science, and that they lost.”

    OK, clearly you guys are getting actually retarded over this issue. Brandybuck, if your kid was sick, and you took him to 97% of the doctors in the world and they said “if you don’t do X your kid will die” and then the other 3% said “if you do x your kid will die” wouldn’t you be fucking retarded to not do x? I mean, yes, in the history of the world there are times when a majority of trained experts in the relevant field of discussion were wrong and a small minority were right, but that number of times is certainly smaller than the times that a small minority of experts were proven ultimately correct.

    I mean, c’mon. Since you know more than the current scientific consensus in this field, enlighten us on a few other areas in which the vast majority of scientists in that field agree. C’mon, you can do it. I mean all of you deniers. You know the science better than a majority of people who have had about four times more education and training and experience in this area. What other areas do you know the real, hidden truth? Enlighten us.

  29. MikeP,

    The best guesses are that the optimal way to address future climate change today is to apply a tax on CO2 emissions that turns out to be less than 10 cents per gallon when applied to gasoline.

    Best?

    I am not sure that is such a well validated proposal as all that.

    If you said…”A couple of experts think the best guess is…” or “there is a variety of opinions about what the best thing to do is…” then you’d have a point.

  30. Anecdotally, my experience has been that global warming occurs annually, mostly around July/August where I live in Northern Minnesota.The other 10 months appear to be global cooling. My thermometer broke in January,so I really can’t be too sure.I’ll ask someone….

  31. Mr. Nice Guy:

    Your hypothetical would fit better if you took your kid to everyone in the world with a post-graduate degree.

    Climatologists are a subset of scientists. Did that post really go over your head or what?

  32. What gets me abou GW deniers is the amazing lack of humility. 97% of those trained with a PhD (that’s about 10 years of training in one area), and then years of experience in the relevant field, have somehow all gone mad and stupid and missed the obvious data that you with your bachelors degree in mechanical engineering and hours of internet reading have analyzed and found the solution for the problem. Jeezus.

    These guys have seen all the data you have seen, and more. They know much more about what the hell it means, much more about how to analyze it. You the chance that you don’t know what you are talking about is amazingly high here. It’s sad you can’t see that…

    I had a class in geology back in college. And I’ve read some Stephen Jay Gould. But I don’t pretend to be able to tell you if punctuated equilibrium is the mechanism behind evoltionary change. I simply don’t know nearly enough to be able to even make an educated guess. It’s called humility folks!

  33. “Climatologists are a subset of scientists. Did that post really go over your head or what?”

    No, it didn’t Matt. But look above for this:
    It’s a consensus among CLIMATOLOGISTS that GW is occurring. Do you doubt this?

    btw-there are of course other sub-fields that would be relevant in helping decide this issue.

  34. Best?

    I am not sure that is such a well validated proposal as all that.

    If you said…”A couple of experts think the best guess is…” or “there is a variety of opinions about what the best thing to do is…” then you’d have a point.

    From the IPCC AR4 Summary for Policymakers [PDF]

    Peer-reviewed estimates of the social cost of carbon in 2005 average US$12 per tonne of CO2, but the range from 100 estimates is large (-$3 to $95/tCO2).

    You are right that I was using Nordhaus’s 8 cents as the “best” guess. I will stipulate to the IPCC consensus best guess of 13 cents.

    Still not quite the “significant action now” that I imagine Chad had in mind.

  35. http://www.spaceweather.com/

    This is an coincidence worth looking at.

  36. “It’s a consensus among CLIMATOLOGISTS that GW is occurring. Do you doubt this?”

    Firstly, the important question is NOT “does global warming exist”. There are two questions more important than that. 1. If global warming exists, is it caused by humans. 2. If global warming both exists and is caused by humans should we exert significant effort in stopping it?

    Secondly, climatologists are split in this regard:
    http://www.heartland.org/Article.cfm?artId=17181

  37. that the global cooling would make it more likely that something that didn’t need to be done would be done because evidence was not available to show that it didn’t need to be done (please excuse the quadruple negatives there).

    That I cannot do. My head hurts from decyphering that sentence.

  38. So, the Leibniz Institute model produced accurate retrospective forecasts. And they predict global cooling for the next decade or so. What were their model’s long-term predictions? Do the long-term predictions concur with other global warming models?

  39. Mick, you are joking right? You think the SUN has an impact on global warming? The Sun has NOTHING I say NOTHING to do with the heating of the Earth. Just watch my movie.

  40. “It’s a noisy graph plotted with less than ideal data whether you plot by the year or by the decade.”

    I think the argument is that it’s exactly that kind of noisy graph that got everyone worked up about global warming in the first place.

    To me the real argument is getting back to the point where global warming can be seen as an “issue” instead of a “crisis.” The evidence that C02 emissions have the potential to be an issue is strong, the evidence that it’s an impending crisis, not so much.

  41. Ron,

    So, you have changed your mind back to that of the reasonable AGW doubters? Cool!

    I guess I can stop the whale oil power now, but is eating veal still okay to preserve the environment?

  42. I’ve noticed that a large number of the respected scientists who are skeptical of the so-called mainstream view of anthropogenic global warming happen to be foreign (i.e. not working in or for the US, and are themselves of such descent). I began to wonder if this might not be telling, in the sense that being a high-profile scientist in the US, and being beholden to the community of peers and the necessity of being published in a respectable journal, receiving federal grants etc. would effect one’s judgment as to which side of the issue he were on. If we assume for a minute that the validity of the theory is a nonissue, then the most glaring aspect of the debate are its domestic policy implications. In this case, one would want to be on the correct side of said issue if the tide of opinion has polarized for the sake of appeasing peripheral goals (economic controls, etc.). I would beg some detractors to meditate on the issue of terrorism, a very real and proven threat. However, no such threat as great or real, of a true or totally perceived magnitude should be sufficient to surrender one’s liberty (Paraphrasing Mr. Franklin). My worry is that as long as there is this threat of doom at the hands of the government laid blame on industry and enterprise, they will wield it just as this current administration has with the threat of other forms of annihilation. As long as there are scientists who dissent, I find the prospect of declaring this threat “FACT” as policy for the purpose of the public welfare (perhaps also the power of future kings) a very creepy path to choose to tread.

  43. There are two questions more important than that. 1. If global warming exists, is it caused by humans. 2. If global warming both exists and is caused by humans should we exert significant effort in stopping it?

    Your question 1 is actually not material.

    After all, if an asteroid were found to be on course to hammer the planet in 20 years, no one would be asking whether it was caused by humans.

    Question 2 says it all: If global warming exists should we exert significant effort in stopping it? “No” is a valid possible answer.

  44. “What gets me about GW deniers is the amazing lack of humility.”

    Are you freaking kidding me? How about the unbelievable pretentiousness of people who believe that they can predict the climate of the planet to a tenth of a degree, 100 years from now.

  45. Exactly! Damn pretentious, latte sipping, scientist! Acting all high and mighty with their degrees, like they know more than us or something.

  46. Have you guys ever noticed that Mr. Nice Guy is basically just joe in a dress?

  47. Neu: I had much longer and more thoughtful response to your query above, but when I went to post it disappeared into the ether. Since I must soon switch the TV on to Top Chef, let me just point you in the direction of two articles dealing with problems of validating models.

    (1) Naomi Oreskes et al. Science, “Verification, Validation, and Confirmation of Numerical Models in the Earth Sciences” 1994. Abstract:

    Verification and validation of numerical models of natural systems is impossible. This is because natural systems are never closed and because model results are always nonunique. Models can be confirmed by the demonstration of agreement between observation and prediction, but confirmation is inherently partial. Complete confirmation is logically precluded by the fallacy of affirming the consequent and by incomplete access to natural phenomena. Models can only be evaluated in relative terms, and their predictive value is always open to question. The primary value of models is heuristic.

    Myanna Lahsen, Social Studies of Science, “Seductive Simulatons? Uncertainty Distribution Around Climate Models,” 2005.

  48. An Einstein I don’t claim to be, but what I’m getting from all this amounts to, “We still don’t know what the fuck the climate is doing, but we’re sure we’re experiencing long-term global warming, except when we aren’t”.

    Which is one more reason why I’m inclined to believe that, while giving the experts a fair hearing is a good idea, giving them the last word certainly isn’t….

  49. Just because a short term model predicts correctly does not mean a similar long term model will do so. Computer programs that predict tomorrow’s weather are pretty useless to predict the weather a month from now.

    if your kid was sick, and you took him to 97% of the doctors in the world and they said “if you don’t do X your kid will die” and then the other 3% said “if you do x your kid will die” wouldn’t you be fucking retarded to not do x?

    If “doing x” was certain to have horrific side effects, that might not be so easy to say. If we’re talking about a 10 cent increase per gallon of gas, that’s not too bad. If we’re talking about cutting CO2 emissions by 90%, back to 1850 levels, as Mr Gore proposes, the cure may be worse than the disease.

  50. Im just here to say what Ive said in other threads:

    I am in favor of a Manhattan Project to solve global warming, but only after a GW equivalent to Pearl Harbor.

  51. Anyone who doesnt agree with my 9:47 post is exactly equivalent to GWB and the invasion of Iraq.

  52. So much for free markets. You are arguing government intervention for a myth. You should read the text below your title before you spill more of your left-fascist garbage.

  53. Chad you said,

    Why can’t libertarians and conservatives admit the obvious – that common sense, thousands of peer-reviewed scientific papers, and oodles of computer models all indicate that there is a likely problem that is best mitigated by starting early?

    Because libertarians and conservatives have been watching the policy response to AGW and what is happening on the ground.

    They have watched mandated, subsidized, solutions for global warming (biofuels) increase the emission of global warming gases.

    Having seen that they have decided it is better to do nothing instead of giving in to the “do something now reflex” and make matters worse.

  54. The fact of the matter is the run up in crude oil prices has increased the price of carbon consumption far above what the carbon tax proponents would have dared to propose three years ago.

    If this price run up does not lead to a reduction in carbon emission the chance of developing a policy that would reduce carbon emissions is somewhere between slim and none.

    If that is the case it is time to move to mitigation strategies.

  55. Proof positive that Climatologists can read the narrative any way they want to.

    10 years of global cooling = no reason not to remain hysterical about global warming.

  56. Y’know, I think it’s completely libertarian to support carbon taxes, especially as replacements for high corporate and income taxes. Don’t be hating, guys.

    And look at this with an open mind. The very high chances are that global warming is caused by humans.

  57. I hope the people who are saying we should ignore any short-term cooling aren’t the same ones who were hyping that the warmest four years on record occured in this decade, and using a warm January as an argument that global warming was irrefutable (like that guy who won the Nobel Prize).

  58. What is the “correct” earth temperature? It is a fact that the earth has been warmer and cooler at various times in the several thousand years the earth has been in existence. Who do we think we are to believe that we can control the earth’s temperature even if we want to? Wecan’t even tell you correctly what the temperature will be tomorrow.

  59. Thats true, but it also isn’t really evidence against climate change.

    left wing Prediction: the world will get hotter

    actual recorded result: World gets Colder

    left wing: this in no way proves me wrong.

    LOL

  60. Mr Shorter,

    I believe the argument is that it’s not a matter of warm temperatures being harmful, but rather a sudden change in long-term global average temperature which does not give the biosphere time to adapt. Keep in mind that “sudden” in geological time scales could mean as much as a thousand years.

  61. I had a class in geology back in college. And I’ve read some Stephen Jay Gould. But I don’t pretend to be able to tell you if punctuated equilibrium is the mechanism behind evoltionary change. I simply don’t know nearly enough to be able to even make an educated guess. It’s called humility folks!

    I have no humilty when it comes to a small subset of elite experts trying to take my freedoms away form me.

    So Gould is dead wrong and global warming is a hoax.

    History has proven me right on global warming and time will prove me right on punctuated equilibrium.

  62. I believe the argument is that it’s not a matter of warm temperatures being harmful, but rather a sudden change in long-term global average temperature which does not give the biosphere time to adapt. Keep in mind that “sudden” in geological time scales could mean as much as a thousand years.

    you sir are dead wrong. The last ice age ended over a 50 year period….from mile deep glaciers over north Dakota to temperatures much like today….for that period of global warming I blame the saber tooths…fucking SUV driving bastards.

  63. Y’know, I think it’s completely libertarian to support carbon taxes, especially as replacements for high corporate and income taxes. Don’t be hating, guys.

    the problem is that the realitarians among us will point out that a promise to reduce income taxes while raising a gas tax is tale about unicorns and dragons and fairy folk.

  64. The last ice age ended over a 50 year period….from mile deep glaciers over north Dakota to temperatures much like today…

    Uh…link to the relevant ice core survey, or some other plausible method of arriving at that conclusion?

  65. And yes, it appears there have been sudden global temperature changes in the past; however, those that are known have been accompanied by mass extinctions.

    To be clear, I think long-term global warming is a problem, however unsure I am that the solutions offered so far have a prayer of working. One thing I do have a problem with is GW fanatics exaggerating the short-term implications and spinning every unusual weather occurrence as being evidence of imminent doom from GW (as Mr. Former Vice President Emeritus has a habit of doing).

  66. Brandybuck, if your kid was sick, and you took him to 97% of the doctors in the world

    If 85% (not 97%, go look at that opinion poll again) of doctors say my child needs to stay home in bed with a humidifier, I’ll listen to them. But if 85% of them say my child needs a quadruple amputation, I’m going to start looking very hard for those remaining 15% of doctors! And if you were sane, you would too!

    The problem with anthropogenic global warming is that it is NOT a mere scientific and academic topic. Politicians and pundits out in the real world are clamoring to impose all sorts of solutions on us. But the costs of these solutions will most likely be WORSE than the problem! People around the world will DIE because of these solutions. Hell, half of Africa is starving to death because the European variety of environmentalist convinced Africa that bioengineered crops were evil.

    Before I go live in a damp cave and shorten my lifespan by three quarters, I want to hear what those other 15% of scientists have to say!

  67. Can someone explain to me why a seemingly intelligent man like Al Gore concentrated on global warming (which is questionable and controversial) rather than environmental degradation?

    Most of Asia is deforested, coral reefs are dying, there are huge dead zones in the ocean, fish stocks are depleted, topsoil is being lost, aquifiers are getting low in many areas, desertification in China; Most of this is pretty well documented and not subject to controversy. So why global warming??

  68. “MikeP | April 30, 2008, 8:28pm | #

    Best?

    I am not sure that is such a well validated proposal as all that.

    If you said…”A couple of experts think the best guess is…” or “there is a variety of opinions about what the best thing to do is…” then you’d have a point.

    From the IPCC AR4 Summary for Policymakers [PDF]…
    Peer-reviewed estimates of the social cost of carbon in 2005 average US$12 per tonne of CO2, but the range from 100 estimates is large (-$3 to $95/tCO2).
    You are right that I was using Nordhaus’s 8 cents as the “best” guess. I will stipulate to the IPCC consensus best guess of 13 cents.

    Still not quite the “significant action now” that I imagine Chad had in mind.”

    MikeP: Quit being dishonest. I am calling you on it right now. Did you not even finish reading the paragraph from which you cited?

    From a whole two sentences later:

    “Aggregate
    estimates of costs mask significant differences in impacts
    across sectors, regions and populations and very likely underestimate
    damage costs because they cannot include many nonquantifiable
    impacts. {5.7}”

    Heck, even the $12 per ton average is $12 more than the current price of carbon. I am perfectly willing to start with this as a basis, and move it forward as our knowledge improves.

  69. Mike:

    “Your question 1 is actually not material.

    After all, if an asteroid were found to be on course to hammer the planet in 20 years, no one would be asking whether it was caused by humans.

    Question 2 says it all: If global warming exists should we exert significant effort in stopping it? “No” is a valid possible answer.”

    You’re getting a bit warmer Mike. It IS irrelevant whether we are causing GW or not. Or course, we ARE. There is essentially ZERO debate about this in the scientific literature. But that does not matter. The question is should whether we should mitigate this problem: a simple cost-benefit. And of course, the answer keeps coming back as YES, not no.

    There are two reasons for this. One is that mitigation will, obviously, mitigate the damage. Some mitigation is cost-effective. The second is that there IS the chance that this mess spirals out of control. It may be small, but so is the chance that your house burns down next year. Yet you still buy insurance, don’t you?

  70. “Most of Asia is deforested, coral reefs are dying, there are huge dead zones in the ocean, fish stocks are depleted, topsoil is being lost, aquifiers are getting low in many areas, desertification in China; Most of this is pretty well documented and not subject to controversy. So why global warming??”

    Every one of these are either partially caused by global warming, worsened by global warming, or have solutions that go hand-in-hand with combating global warming. Ironic, isn’t it?

  71. What sort of mitigation should be used? The TTAPS study back in the ’80’s showed that the detonation of one hundred megatons of thermonuclear weapons would send enough dust and smoke into the stratosphere that it would cause temperatures to fall significantly.

  72. “Having seen that they have decided it is better to do nothing instead of giving in to the “do something now reflex” and make matters worse.”

    I think you will find that it was the farm lobby behind corn-to-ethanol, not the environmental lobby. Environmentalists have correctly questioned corn from the beginning.
    However, corn is not all biofuel. Biofuels WILL be part of the solution…just not ones made from a fertilizer-intense food crop and only utilizes 10% of the plant.

  73. Chad,

    If you had lived 500 years ago you would have blamed the devil for all that.

    There are far more direct causes of deforestation, aquifer depletion, and oceanic dead zones than global warming. Most of those things are side-effects of intensive agriculture. As for “solutions” going hand in hand with those for global warming, I’ve yet to see realistic solutions offered even for global warming itself.

    90% cuts across the board in greenhouse emissions are not realistic, as in even if we in the US and Europe wanted to do this, there’s no way short of setting up a Green Empire by force of arms that we’d be able to keep the emissions of the rest of the world down.

  74. The TTAPS study back in the ’80’s showed that the detonation of one hundred megatons of thermonuclear weapons would send enough dust and smoke into the stratosphere that it would cause temperatures to fall significantly.

    Uh, yeah, but it would also have an adverse impact on photosynthesis, which might be a problem.

  75. Amazing, simply amazing that their modles can onlt correctly predict the past. Hell we might as well use the bible code to predict the climate.

  76. 90% cuts across the board in greenhouse emissions are not realistic, as in even if we in the US and Europe wanted to do this, there’s no way short of setting up a Green Empire by force of arms that we’d be able to keep the emissions of the rest of the world down.

    Setting up a Green Empire by force of arms would be a worse idea than WW1.

  77. From a whole two sentences later:

    “Aggregate estimates of costs mask significant differences in impacts across sectors, regions and populations and very likely underestimate damage costs because they cannot include many nonquantifiable impacts. {5.7}”

    And I could say exactly the same thing about the costs of the policies most global warming proselytizers promulgate.

    And I could also hypothesize nonlinearities such as vast trade wars or actual world wars based on who was abiding by globally harmonized taxes and who wasn’t. The costs of these make the worry over Greenland’s ice pack sliding off in three hundred years rather than twelve hundred years rather pathetic.

    And consider that trade wars have caused great depressions and world wars have caused untold destruction — all within living memory — while global warming has so far not cost anything. Telling world populations that they cannot take the cheapest path to industrialization and wealth is fraught with peril.

  78. Or course, we ARE. There is essentially ZERO debate about this in the scientific literature.

    Zero? Really? Methinks you haven’t been paying attention.

    The question is should whether we should mitigate this problem: a simple cost-benefit. And of course, the answer keeps coming back as YES, not no.

    The answer according to whom? Leftists using the AGW fraud as a wedge for global socialism? Opportunists like Gore trying to get rich off the AGW scare? Trying reading some George Reisman for a different opinion.

  79. a Green Empire by force of arms

    My side would win cuz nukes and tanks beat Prius hybrids and bike trails.

  80. It’s really immaterial what percentage of climatologists think AGW is real. We don’t make policy decisions on science alone… otherwise the speed limit on the highway would be 1 MPH, because the physicists tell us that’s the safest speed.

  81. Neu Mejican, how long are you talking? Because the Earth has had ice ages and balmy periods long before the Industrial Revolution.

    Wrong. Al Gore said we must protect the stable seasons that God gave us.

  82. “This is important because policies are made in the short term,” Keenlyside said. “Our results show we might not have as much change in climate over the next 10 years.”

    Something occurs to me…

    How long has it been since the first of the global warming extremists claimed that we had 10 years to do something about global warming?

    Is this their out?

  83. I think the post works better if you shorten it to just the last two sentences. Consider this version:

    “The world’s governments will largely be trying to effect vast changes in how the world’s economy is fueled. That’s very troubling.”

  84. 1) The point that the Earth’s climate has changed before does not imply that nothing should be done to try to prevent it from happening now. For example, if there were an ice age coming in 75 years that could be prevented, shouldn’t want to stop it, rather than stick to our libertarian guns (until they are pried out of our cold, dead hands by aliens visiting our frozen planet)?

    2) This point stands regardless of whether climate change is due to human activities. It simply changes what we need to do to stop it (i.e. if carbon isn’t a factor, then we have to find another way).

    3) I take issue with this kind of argument:
    Joshua corning

    the problem is that the realitarians among us will point out that a promise to reduce income taxes while raising a gas tax is tale about unicorns and dragons and fairy folk.
    because it can be used to argue anything. Essentially, you’re saying that we shouldn’t cut taxes because it won’t happen. That’s not a reason not to support something!

    Arguments that X (e.g. a carbon tax) is good but government will screw it up on implementation are likewise ridiculous because that’s like saying “sure, deregulation of industry is good, but government would screw it up and corrupt it, so lets not do it.”

  85. “90% cuts across the board in greenhouse emissions are not realistic”

    Political realistic: not yet

    Technically realistic: we already have the technology to do so. It will only get better

    Economically realistic: a few percent of GDP (which would still be much much larger by 2050 regardless)

  86. “the problem is that the realitarians among us will point out that a promise to reduce income taxes while raising a gas tax is tale about unicorns and dragons and fairy folk.”

    No, the problem is that you are arguing that unicorns and dragons and fairy folk are causing global warming, rather than, you know, carbon dioxide and methane.

  87. The climate change crowd seems to be heavy on Eisensteins and light on Einsteins.

  88. “Bob Smith | May 1, 2008, 12:46am | #

    Or course, we ARE. There is essentially ZERO debate about this in the scientific literature.

    Zero? Really? Methinks you haven’t been paying attention.”

    Citation, please. Peer-reviewed only, preferably a top-notch journal. Surely your paper refuting global warming would be worthy of Science or Nature or something like that.

    Methinks you have never actually read a research paper.

  89. Arguments that X (e.g. a carbon tax) is good but government will screw it up on implementation are likewise ridiculous because that’s like saying “sure, deregulation of industry is good, but government would screw it up and corrupt it, so lets not do it.”

    Uh, that’s a perfectly valid and nonridiculous argument.

    Consider California’s electricity “deregulation” of the late 1990s. By deregulating the wholesale market but keeping the retail market price controlled, the government completely screwed up the electricity industry — though admittedly it outsourced the corruption to private opportunists. As a result things now are worse than they would be had government been more competent and fully deregulated electricity or if government had simply made no change at all.

    Any proposal to address any issue must have a complete story. What you wish to happen cannot be the standard of judgment. What actually will happen must be the standard of judgment.

    The bottom line is governments suck. That must be factored into any solution to global warming.

  90. Why do so many leftists post here?

    I mean, I can’t imagine going to the forum at Conservation International (assuming they have one) and telling them how stupid their carbon footprint test is. You know, the one that called me an eco-novice even though I HAVE NEVER DRIVEN A CAR IN MY LIFE, apparently because I am not also a vegan (and yes I know that commercially produced meat uses ecologically unsound amounts of grain, but the test didn’t ask whether or not I hunted for my own meat).

    In any case, if I did something like that, would anyone take me seriously? I wouldn’t.

  91. I mean, I can’t imagine going to the forum at Conservation International (assuming they have one) and telling them how stupid their carbon footprint test is.

    Try visiting Ezra Klein’s site. He gets called out on a regular basis by his commentators. Just be nice and you won’t be banned.

  92. 97% of those trained with a PhD (that’s about 10 years of training in one area), and then years of experience in the relevant field, have somehow all gone mad and stupid

    If they all think they are fortune tellers, predicting the future with computer models based on relatively few of the infinite factors that shape our climate, then yes, they have all gone mad.

  93. Models can be confirmed by the demonstration of agreement between observation and prediction, but confirmation is inherently partial. Complete confirmation is logically precluded by the fallacy of affirming the consequent and by incomplete access to natural phenomena. Models can only be evaluated in relative terms, and their predictive value is always open to question.

    Ron,

    Naomi Oreskes et al. just accidentally rediscovered Karl Popper’s epistemology. Popper taught us that all scientific explanations have exactly this quality that Oreskes seems to think is somehow unique to climate models.

    I was under the impression that all the long term models, the ones that predict catastrophe, had never been able to accurately predict history from history. If this new one is the first that has, and all it shows is cooling, then I’d call that proof against warming, period.

  94. This is so amusing. Anything–anything–that happens…is evidence of AGW.

    Keep polishing those reputations and credentials, “scientists”.

  95. “What gets me about GW deniers is the amazing lack of humility.”

    That’s rich.

    It’s actually the GW believers who have an amazing lack of humility. They propose to mandate enormous cost increases and freedom infringements on everyone else based on claims that they cannot actually definitively prove at all.

  96. Gore Lied
    Global Warming Died

  97. What gets me about GW deniers is the amazing lack of humility

    Skepticism is now evidence of a lack of humility, eh?

    Only if “humility” means “refusal to bow down to elites/experts”. That’s humility we can all do without.

  98. On the bright side, it would be nice if a little luck bought us some time before the real damage kicks in. Moving off the carbon economy is going to take a generation or two regardless, so we need all the time we can get.

    Oops, I see the thread has turned into scientist-bashing. “What, you believe SCIENTISTS can answer a scientific question? You are teh elitist!”

    Sigh. Always happens.

  99. Please. Let’s begin by distinguishing between global warming, which is observable and has occurred many times in the past history of our planet, and the theory of anthropogenic global warming (AGW). The history of our planet is one of warming and cooling in geologic time frames. AGW presumes that human production of green house gases (a truly small percentage of the total) is responsible and builds a model to conform to this theory/philosophy. To do so requires ignoring factors that do not support the desired outcome – AGW. This is hardly the scientific method I was exposed to in my nine years of graduate and post-graduate studies.

  100. AGW presumes that human production of green house gases (a truly small percentage of the total) is responsible and builds a model to conform to this theory/philosophy.

    Sure they do.

  101. The troubling thing is that governments are using global warming as a pretext to vastly increase their power. If we do actually see global warming to an extent that it becomes an economic problem, we’re going to need free markets to cope with it.

    -jcr

  102. ” why a seemingly intelligent man like Al Gore concentrated on global warming (which is questionable and controversial) rather than environmental degradation? ”

    Salesmanship.

    -jcr

  103. Who would have thought that sunspots are a better predictor of climate change than the measurement of man-made greenhouse gases.

    I know somebody brought up http://www.spaceweather.com (not much sunspot activity lately), but here’s some more “denialist” material for you:
    http://www.surfacestations.org/
    It’s a measurement of how many weather stations used by climate scientists are reporting higher temperatures than they should, mostly out of neglect than some kind of leftist conspiracy.

    Also I second the notion that using models that have been proven false as a means to push forward increased government intervention should be viewed with skepticism. I remember all the fear mongering in the 90’s over global warming… they did not predict global cooling at any point the 21st century.

  104. Ron Bailey:
    That means the world’s governments will largely be trusting the outputs of computer models as they try to effect vast changes in how the world’s economy is fueled.

    The entire problem with the theory of anthropogenic climate change can be summed up in this one sentence. I am a Chemical Engineer who has developed and used computer models to try to predict temperature and other outputs in a closed system. It is very difficult to do so unless you can validate the model by conducting experiments, varying the input, observing the outputs and validating if the computer model is correct.

    It is breathtakingly arrogant to imagine that you can develop a computer model to explain the climate of the earth, an open system that we can’t really experiment with. Yet this is precisely what AGW proponents claim.

  105. It is very difficult to do so unless you can validate the model by conducting experiments, varying the input, observing the outputs and validating if the computer model is correct.

    His team made a computer model that takes into account natural phenomena such as sea surface temperatures and ocean circulation patterns.

    They checked their work by producing a set of forecasts using data recorded over the past 50 years and found the retrospective forecasts were accurate, Keenlyside said.

  106. Ron,

    I appreciate you taking the time to provide some source articles, but the imperfect nature of models is hardly the question. As at least one of your articles points out, models are never completely accurate. If they were they wouldn’t be models. But as we get better at modeling the climate in the near term, we have a better ability to understand the long-term models as well. These short term models don’t damage the predictive value of the long-term models in any way, and may provide a benefit in that verification of the principles used to model the near term allows for tweaking of the long-term models to reduce uncertainty inherent in long-term modeling.

    Like I said above…I can see JsubD’s point that this is likely to stall reasonable efforts due to unreasonable or uniformed responses to how the short-term predictions and the long-term predictions are related. What I don’t see is how this prediction of a near-term condition decreases the veracity of the long-term models.

    A side point about retrospective validation of models.

    True it is always inferior to prospective validation. However, the details matter. If a retrospective validation procedure is used it can be quite informative. The essential ingredient in the process is that the predictor is blind to the results it is predicting. In retrospective validation this is very difficult to do without bias, but it can certainly be done. The reason prospective validation is preferred is because it is much less vulnerable to bias. It is not, however, immune. It is quite possible to do a retrospective validation that is less biased than a particular prospective validation. The devil is in the procedural details.

  107. Essentially, you’re saying that we shouldn’t cut taxes because it won’t happen. That’s not a reason not to support something!

    It is a good reason not to support something. That’s how strategizing works. You evaluate the chances of some desired outcome actually happening, and don’t put your money and time behind the ones that you judge are unlikely to succeed. Of course, your judgement may turn out to be wrong, but that’s part of being human.

  108. “the problem is that the realitarians among us will point out that a promise to reduce income taxes while raising a gas tax is tale about unicorns and dragons and fairy folk.”

    No, the problem is that you are arguing that unicorns and dragons and fairy folk are causing global warming, rather than, you know, carbon dioxide and methane.

    My eyeballs just aren’t seeing where he said anything about chemistry. Seemed like an opinion about whether a proposed change in tax policy was realistic.

  109. They checked their work by producing a set of forecasts using data recorded over the past 50 years and found the retrospective forecasts were accurate, Keenlyside said.

    Which is about the best one can do in validating a computer model. And has been brought up as the best standard for judging computer models many times by global warming skeptics.

    Of course, their conclusions about the quality of their own model should be scrutinized, and it doesn’t necessarily mean their model will accurately predict the future.

    I’m still wondering what their model predicted for the long-term future. Did it agree with other global warming models?

  110. It is very difficult to do so unless you can validate the model by conducting experiments, varying the input, observing the outputs and validating if the computer model is correct.

    His team made a computer model that takes into account natural phenomena such as sea surface temperatures and ocean circulation patterns.

    They checked their work by producing a set of forecasts using data recorded over the past 50 years and found the retrospective forecasts were accurate, Keenlyside said.

    To understand why this is BS, look at any retroactive-fit stock trading model. It will always prove to be a failure, because what it purports to measure isn’t what it’s actually measuring. It’s actually measuring something else, not accounted for in the model. This fact will not be apparent until the model starts exhibiting catastrophic failure i.e. it no longer correctly predicts the present. No computer model of a chaotic system can be validated by best-fit of past data.

  111. “No computer model of a chaotic system can be validated by best-fit of past data.”

    And this is precisely why even with the AMAZING increase in computational power over the past half-century, we still can’t predict the local weather accurately beyond 10 days (it even sometimes gets tomorrow’s data wrong).

    I would propose the same limitations on any global climate model that attempts to make predictions beyond 10 years.

  112. why does al gore concentrate on global warming and not environmental degradation?

    because global warming can be blamed on america, capitalism, bush, christianity, white males, etc (insert any other standard left-wing whipping boy).

    it’s a lot harder to instill guilt in american voters over what the chinese are doing to their own country.

  113. Weather forecasting is not climatology.

    I can say with a very high degree of certainty that Manny Ramirez will hit between 10 and 20 homeruns in May and June.

    I can say with a much lower level of certainty how many homeruns he will hit on June 3.

    It is very difficult to say what any single vector will do in a chaotic system, but there are many cases wherein the entire system’s behavior can be accurately predicted beforehand. A boiling pot of water, for example. It is literally impossible to say how any one water molecule will move, but we know that the pot as a whole will steam, then bubble. With knowledge of the temperature and altitude, we can even say how many water molecules will turn to steam over what time frame.

  114. “Weather forecasting is not climatology.”

    No, but they’re similar chaotic systems. Did you even read my post? I didn’t claim you can’t predict CLIMATE in 10 days, obviously, the time scale is different. I just reject the notion that you can extrapolate beyond maybe a decade or two. And the “boiling pot” comparison doesn’t hold either. You could estimate to a certain degree of certainty when the pot will boil over, because you’re able to measure 10,000 boiling pots in reality with different paremeters to construct the perfect model. We don’t have that luxury with climate models. We have a few decades of satellite models, about 100-200 years of temperature recordings (with varying amounts of reliability and granularity), maybe 1000 years of documented first hand climate/weather accounts, a several thousand more years of guesswork of using historical documents. To fill in the gaps we need tree rings, core samples, geologic records, etc. I’m sorry, but that’s not a lot of data to build an accurate simulation of the next hundred years! A decade, maybe. If your boiling pot comparison holds, we’d be able to predict a ballpark figure of when the next ice age will happen!

  115. “We have a few decades of satellite models” I meant to say satellite DATA.

  116. Egosumabbas,

    I am not sure you logically can assume that the type of data we have is better at short-term predictions (within 10 years) than long-term predictions.

    Particularly given the amount of data that goes into the models premised on long-term trends rather than short-term fluxuations.

    eg., Ice-core data.

    We may be much better at prediction century by century than decade by decade.

    It is, of course, hard to validate century long predictions.

    A side issue that gets back to Ron’s primary issue with the consequences of the new prediction for the near-term….

    If we predict that things will warm, do things that we predict will prevent that warming, and it doesn’t warm we have no way of confirming whether the outcome was a result of a bad prediction or our intervention.

    But that doesn’t mean we should attempt to craft policies that make sense based on the best available projections.

  117. ACK…

    doesn’t mean we shouldn’t attempt

  118. But as we get better at modeling the climate in the near term, we have a better ability to understand the long-term models as well.

    I disagree. A successful short term climate model does not a long term model make.

    Without any human activity, this planet has gone through vast climate changes over millions of years. If a climate model can’t predict those changes, it’s not a good long term model.

    Are there any climate models which have successfully retroactivly aligned with those kinds of non-human affected global events? And if there are, did they require major ‘fudge factor’ inputs by scientists running the models?

  119. “We may be much better at prediction century by century than decade by decade.”

    I challenge you to find a model that attempts to guess the start of the next ice, and the next one after that, while aligning with the previously recorded ice ages.

    I find the next ice age FAR scarier than a piddling 2 degrees of warming.

  120. Arguments that X (e.g. a carbon tax) is good but government will screw it up on implementation are likewise ridiculous because that’s like saying “sure, deregulation of industry is good, but government would screw it up and corrupt it, so lets not do it.”

    Carbon taxes and income taxes both suck…saying that income taxes suck but carbon taxes suck less so lets move over to carbon taxes when you could simply eliminate the income tax and screw adding the carbon tax signals to me that you are disingenuous….you have no intent on getting rid of the income tax, and i am not falling into your bullshit set up…You love taxes and you love government and you want both to grow and grow and grow.

  121. No, but they’re similar chaotic systems. Actually, they’re the SAME chaotic system. We just make different predictions about that system, at different scales.

    Did you even read my post? Yes, but you don’t seem to have read mine, if you think what you just wrote is responsive to it.

  122. “Yes, but you don’t seem to have read mine, if you think what you just wrote is responsive to it.”

    I think I responded to every point you made short of baseball, which I don’t watch.

  123. Over the past year I’ve read several articles about Dr. Michael West who describes himself as a forensic odontologist, or bite mark analyst. He has provided key testimony in multiple cases in the state of Mississippi that has resulted in people being convicted of murder, sexual assault, and other major violent crimes. Dr. West claims to have invented a special process “The West Phenomenon.” In this process, “he dons a pair of yellow goggles and with the aid of a blue laser, he says he can identify bite marks, scratches, and other marks on a corpse that no one else can see-not even other forensics experts.” This process supposedly cannot be photographed nor reproduced by other forensic experts. Because of this, West claims that his opinion is unimpeachable by other experts. https://www.reason.com/news/show/121671.html

    Dr. Wests story sounds eriely similar to what Anthropogenic Global Warming experts are claiming. You just have to trust them with blind faith faith, because there is no way to verify the results.

    There is a long history of scientists reporting results to match what is expected politically. This has occured even if it was clearly demonstrable that their reports were wrong.

    Now it is reported that a majority of qualified scientists support almost completely if not totally the theory of Global Warming. I’ve seen the figure of 97% thrown around here in the comments. What I haven’t been able to find is demonstrable evidence that this is true. There is a highly controversial report by Naomi Oreskes where she claims to not have found any papers discounting AGW. There is the public endorsements of various versions of the IPCC reports by 40 major scientific organizations. And there is the lightly documented claims by the IPCC of consensus. Of course the media repeats this as fact, but where do they get their facts? Several very qualified scientists have publicly gone on record questioning AGW. Various controversial petitions and reports such as the Oregon Petitiion claim at least hundreds of qualified scientists disagree. At best, it appears to me that it if far from being clear if any consensus exists at all. Really if consensus is so important, why not do a census of all qualified scientists and then poll them for their opinions on AGW? Maybe Al Gore could sponsor this with his $300 million. Of course it would need to be independently audited.

    But even if a consensus could be established, is that enough to fundamentally alter the world economy to a as yet unproven state of energy dependance? We are after all enjoying the highest standard of living and longest lifespans in all of human history because of our economy. How do we know that the science is precise, accurate, and mature enough to bet our existance as a species on? Some say it’s the best prediction of the future we have for the world climate. Should we launch a premptive nuclear strike on Russia if a psychic predition that they will launch a nuclear strike on the US in 20 years if we don’t is the very best prediction that we have? If 97% of genetists, say that we can give the pest prediciton by DNA test of who will be a mass murder or not, should we kill babys at birth who match that test?

  124. It does always come down to hatin’ on science.

  125. It does always come down to hatin’ on science.

    Prediction by computer simulation is not science, it’s technology. Yes, the models use scientific data and formulas, but they are outside the scope of science proper.

  126. What gets me abou GW deniers is the amazing lack of humility.

    WTF? Most GW deniers are merely denying the certainty of the absolutists, especially in GW’s significance. That’s the DEFINITION of humility.

  127. It is not the tools one uses that defines science, but the use of the scientific method to determine how those tools are used.

    Computer-based simulations have been used for everything from aero-and hydro-dynamics to paleo-anthropology.

  128. To follow the scientific method, one must predict results based on a hypothesis to an experiment to which the results aren’t known and then either confirm or invalidate the hypothesis depending on whether the predictions are true or not. However computer models for ahthropogenic global warming are considered to support the hypothesis of AGW whether or not their predictions match real world observations. I don’t see how such computer models can conform to the scientific method.

  129. joe, can you say that a different way? I’m not following what you mean by “the use of the scientific method to determine how those tools are used.”

  130. Most GW deniers are merely denying the certainty of the absolutists, especially in GW’s significance. That’s the DEFINITION of humility.

    That “certainty” is a straw man. We aren’t certain and don’t need to be. If there was a five percent chance that GW is real, it would still justify action, let alone the ~95% chance the scientific community is estimating.

    YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE CERTAIN TO ACT.

    Is that hard to understand?

  131. No computer model of a chaotic system can be validated by best-fit of past data

    Well, if you won’t trust the models and won’t trust the historical record showing the strong correlation and feedback between CO2 levels and temperature, you are just going to have to fall back on the freshmen level physics and chemistry that says (duh) that if you pour a bunch of IR-absorbing gas into the atmosphere, the planet will heat up. Lord Kelvin would be pround of you.

    Since you are deliberating choosing to run blind, your uncertainty is very high. You definitely cannot rule out catastrophic GW, which any engineer would know justifies significant preventative action.

    Thanks for making my point.

  132. Chad, regarding 90 % cuts in greenhouse emissions you said

    Political realistic: not yet

    Technically realistic: we already have the technology to do so. It will only get better

    Economically realistic: a few percent of GDP (which would still be much much larger by 2050 regardless)

    To be charitable your assertion appears to be wildly optimistic and utterly unrealistic.

    Got documentation for your technical and economic assertions?

  133. That “certainty” is a straw man. We aren’t certain and don’t need to be. If there was a five percent chance that GW WMD is real, it would still justify action, let alone the ~95% chance the scientific intelligence community is estimating.

    YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE CERTAIN TO ACT.

    Is that hard to understand?

    You’re scary.

  134. Chad regarding biofuels you said,

    I think you will find that it was the farm lobby behind corn-to-ethanol, not the environmental lobby

    The environmental groups are pushing biofuels. Since corn ethanol is the only currently viable source of ethanol in the US they are by definition pushing corn ethanol.

    Furthermore you neglect to mention the biodiesel component of the environemantal groups push for biofuels.

    The environmental community driven push for biodiesel production has caused significant destruction rainforests and prairies in Brazil and Asia.

  135. Well, if you won’t trust the models and won’t trust the historical record showing the strong correlation and feedback between CO2 levels and temperature, you are just going to have to fall back on the freshmen level physics and chemistry that says (duh) that if you pour a bunch of IR-absorbing gas into the atmosphere, the planet will heat up. Lord Kelvin would be pround of you.

    Models: GIGO. Most of the temperature “data” is fraudulent.
    CO2 and temperature: Temperature rises precede CO2 rises, so how can CO2 cause temperature rises?
    Feedback: AGW theory presumes positive feedback. That’s crazy.
    IR-absorption: CO2 has trivial thermal mass.

  136. You definitely cannot rule out catastrophic GW, which any engineer would know justifies significant preventative action.

    I can’t rule out I’m going to die in a car accident tomorrow, yet I take no extraordinary measures to stop it. The precautionary principle is a terrible way approach anything.

  137. Chad, you said

    YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE CERTAIN TO ACT.

    No kidding Sherlock, how many years of college did it take for you to figure that out?

    On the other hand the wise policy would be to look at the overall effectiveness of the proposed action before taking it.

    Unfortunately the “do something about AGW now” reflex has resulted in policies that have

    1. Not reduced greenhouse gas emissions and have probably increased greenhouse gas emissions

    2. Caused more environmental destruction then doing nothing would have.

    It would be nice if the urge to “do something now” was replaced with a “lets not do something stupid that is going to make the problem worse” reflex.

  138. I’m enbarrassed to admit this, but I have no clue about computer programming. Don’t computers tell you what you want to see? I mean if you want to prove global warming is happening and you create a computer program to do just that, won’t it tell you that yes global warming is happening?

  139. I’m enbarrassed to admit this, but I have no clue about computer programming. Don’t computers tell you what you want to see? I mean if you want to prove global warming is happening and you create a computer program to do just that, won’t it tell you that yes global warming is happening?

    Computers at best do exactly what you tell them to do. However in practical experience any program of even moderate complexity (Say 200 or more man hours of programming) will need an extensive quality assurance process to even reach 99% bug free assuming software engineering best practices were used in the requirements, design, and programming stages. I would imagine that the AGW models represent at least thousands of man hours of programming due to the extreme complexity. I would be highly surprised if the AGW computer models don’t at the very least have hundreds of undiscovered bugs.

    But I could write a program that could accurately match all past climate data, but wouldn’t stand a better chance of predicting future climate than calling the psychic hotline.

  140. Don’t computers tell you what you want to see?

    Not really. Building on what lrbinfrisco said, a program of even moderate complexity will give you all kinds of unexpected results when you actually run it.

    Validating their simulation against past climate was the best way possible to get an idea of how good a job they did of modeling all of the factors that affect climate. Still, it doesn’t guarantee their simulation will get the right answer about what’s going to happen in the future.

    Also, it’s important for others to scrutinize their work. There are all kinds of ways they could influence the results, intentionally or unintentionally:

    * Building “fudge factors” into the model. A fudge factor is completely emperical number that one pulls out of one’s ass to make the results of a calculation come out right.

    * Bias in selecting the test data they used when evaluating the model against past climate (computer geeks call this GIGO, for “garbage in, garbage out”), or bias in interpreting the results.

    * Bias in selecting the data they used when modeling future climate change.

    * No doubt more I can’t think of right now. It’s late.

  141. I would imagine that the AGW models represent at least thousands of man hours of programming due to the extreme complexity.

    I don’t know for sure, but I always imagined that AGW models are not particular complex in terms of lines of computer code, but are complex in the sense that they crunch huge sets of data and use a fine-grain simulation “cell”.

    If an AGW model did consist of a huge chunk of code, wouldn’t it make it pretty much impossible for anybody to peer review the model?

  142. Validating their simulation against past climate was the best way possible to get an idea of how good a job they did of modeling all of the factors that affect climate.

    No, it isn’t. The tested simulation may match past climate data for reasons other than “it’s a good model”. In fact, it’s far more likely it matches by accident or because the algorithm was tailored to produce that result.

    We don’t know what the inputs are or what the actual algorithm is, since they refuse to release it to outsiders. That, to me, is the biggest reason to believe AGW is a fraud.

  143. We don’t know what the inputs are or what the actual algorithm is, since they refuse to release it to outsiders. That, to me, is the biggest reason to believe AGW is a fraud.

    If by “they” you mean the dozens of research groups and organizations who work on these problems, and “outsiders” as anyone too cheap to buy a subscription to the journal.

  144. If by “they” you mean the dozens of research groups and organizations who work on these problems, and “outsiders” as anyone too cheap to buy a subscription to the journal.

    So which journals have the algorithms listed, the data listed, and the source code listed for these models?

  145. Lets do science. IPCC, upon whose prognostications the current global warming flap is based, does not do any science but depends upon predictions of climate models that have been published. There are currently fifteen or more models in use but they do not agree among themselves. And what happens if they do not predict what IPCC wants? Orrin Pilkey and Linda Pilkey-Jarvis, authors of “Useless Arithmetic,” relate that their predicted temperature increase of 1.5 to 4.5 degrees Centigrade from doubling of carbon dioxide partial pressure in air is not empirically, experimentally, or model derived but is simply “the result of diffuse, expert judgement and negotiation among climate modelers.” Pilkey and Pilkey-Jarvis have surveyed numerous failed modeling attempts from predicting codfish yields to beach erosion problems to Yucca mountain drainage and conclude that quantitative prediction of the behavior of natural systems is simply impossible. Worse yet, there are always fudge factors that are needed to bring them into alignment with reality that are totally opaque to those who need the models, and which can be adjusted to get the “right” answer. IPCC group think and hubris in foisting their models upon us are now set bare when nature has decided to disagree with them. In their zeal to push carbon dioxide as the bad actor they have succeeded in suppressing any mention of an alternative explanation of warming due to cosmic rays, proposed by Henrik Svensmark in the nineties. His concept is easy to understand if you know something about the Wilson cloud chamber. It is filled with water vapor and when a partial vacuum is pulled the glass jar fills with tracks of cosmic rays, made visible by water droplets condensing along their ionization trails. It is not too much of a stretch to assume that this also happens when clouds form. In the real world the formation of cloud condensation nuclei is also influenced by dust and sulfur compounds but the basic idea is that by modulating the amount of cosmic rays reaching cloud level (two to three kilometer height) we can influence the degree of cloudiness in the world. And why is this important? Because clouds reflect sun’s rays back into space and thereby cool the earth. If a lot of cosmic rays reach us, cloudiness increases and the world cools. And when their quantity is reduced, we get sunnier skies, warmer weather, and the earth warms. But what could change the amount of cosmic rays reaching us? For one thing, the cosmic neighborhood we live in. In its orbit around the center of the Galaxy, the sun periodically traverses its spiral arms where the intensity of cosmic rays is high. We are currently within the Orion arm of the Galaxy and according to Nir Shaviv of the Racah Institute of Physics in Jerusalem the extra dose of cosmic rays from this spiral arm brought us the Plio-Pleistocene cooling and ice ages. Three previous cooling periods in geologic history can be correlated with spiral arm passages. We have been told that the Milankovitch cycles are the cause of ice ages but in truth they only modulate the cooling caused by spiral arm passages. These cycles have always been there and can be traced to lake deposits dating to the breakup of Pangea. But the cosmic neighborhood is not the whole story. The magnetic field of the sun partly shields us by bending away some of the charged particles aimed at the earth. When that magnetic field strengthens more of these particles are bent away, fewer secondaries reach the cloud level, fewer clouds form, and the earth warms. We live in just such a period now, for the solar magnetic field has more than doubled during the twentieth century. Experts are not sure where it is going, but there are some who think it might have peaked and may start going down again. If so, the current hiatus in global warming that has lasted since 2001 may just be a sign of this.

    Read:
    (1) “The Chilling Stars” by Svensmark & Calder
    (2) “Cool It” by Bjorn Lomborg

  146. No, it isn’t. The tested simulation may match past climate data for reasons other than “it’s a good model”. In fact, it’s far more likely it matches by accident or because the algorithm was tailored to produce that result.

    I said only that it was the best possible way they could validate their model. I didn’t mean to imply that it was sufficient. Also, there is good tailoring and bad tailoring. The act of programming itself is tailoring, good tailoring. Bad tailoring is putting in fudge factors or leaving out known factors that are known to affect climate just to get the expected result.

    We don’t know what the inputs are or what the actual algorithm is, since they refuse to release it to outsiders. That, to me, is the biggest reason to believe AGW is a fraud.

    Yes, I agree. If some computer modeler refuses to release his algorithms and the data sets he used, everyone should ignore his results and assume they are being fraudulent.

    For this particular model, I don’t know what was reported in Nature. It would be very cool if Ron Bailey found the article and reported back with more info: I’d especially like to know if their model’s long-term climate predictions agree with others.

  147. Arno, just some constructive criticism. Your comment might be really insightful, but I just can’t read a huge chunk of text with no paragraph breaks.

  148. I do find it interesting that the IPCC refuses to seriously consider any other possible explanation for past warming that anthropogenic CO2 release. And when the models predictions prove to be false, the IPCC and AGWers don’t seriously consider the possibility that it’s not anthropogenic C02 that this the major driver in modern climate. This screams preprogrammed biased to me.

  149. Wow! Thanks to all of you for clearing that up for me. (This is not sarcasm.) I really do appreciate your input.

  150. I do find it interesting that the IPCC refuses to seriously consider any other possible explanation for past warming that anthropogenic CO2 release.

    wtf are you talking about? They even INCLUDED one of the deniers’ favorites – changes in solar luminosity – directly into the front-page calculations of net forcing. The current estimates of changes in the intensity of light coming in from the sun hint at a slight increase, but nowhere near enough to cause the observed warming. The uncertainty range easily includes no change at all and decreases.

    Since luminosity has generally been refuted, deniers’s started to latch onto ion storms. Sadly for them, a recent paper in either Science or Nature (I read both, can’t remember which) found no relationship. What next? Maybe unicorns are causing the observed warming?

  151. I would hardly call the IPCC’s efforts to rationalize solar luminosity failures to match predictions on par with the rationalizations that they make when anthropogenic CO2 predicitons fail to be accurate. But most importantly when they accepted the AGW hypothesis and called it theory, they made predictions that the global temperatures would increase over the short term as well as the long term. When short term warming failed to happen, the IPCC does not appear to have seriously considered that their precious theory might just be wrong. No, they immediately jump in with hastily contrived rationalizations to excuse the discrepancy. I call that bias. If they were following the Scientific Method they would have at the very least admitted to a higher degreee of uncertainty, and most likely reverted AGW back to a hypothesis that needed more and better testing to make sure they hadn’t missed something. But AGW seems to value political expendiency over taking the time to properly follow the Scientific Method.

  152. Chad,

    I suspect the unicorns don’t have time to cause global warming.

    They are too busy finding the cites needed to support your assertion that we already have the technology to reduce greenhouse emissions by 90 %

  153. Everytime I hear the phrase Stop Global Climate Change I ask the speaker if possible the following question: How will we know when we’ve stopped it?. It rarely gets answered with any rational words.

    I am firm believer in knowing where you are going before you begin the trip. John A. Warden III, a strategy expert wrote this piece about just that: Thinking Strategically About Global Climate Change. It is a provocative perspective that really makes one think about what everyone is trying to get all of us to do about Global Climate Change.

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