Global Warming

Man-Made Global Warming Likely Benign, Reports WSJ Columnist Matt Ridley

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hot or not?

In a fascinating column over at the Wall Street Journal, Matt Ridley, author of the terrific The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves, reports that climate sensitivity—the amount of warming that would result from doubling atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide—appears to be much lower than originally reported by the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC). Earlier IPCC reports estimated climate sensitivity at between 2°-4.5°C. New data suggests that it really is between 1.6°-1.7°C (2.9°-3.1°F). Ridley bases his reporting, in part, on the observations of Nic Lewis who is an expert reviewer of the upcoming IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report:

Mr. Lewis tells me that the latest observational estimates of the effect of aerosols (such as sulfurous particles from coal smoke) find that they have much less cooling effect than thought when the last IPCC report was written. The rate at which the ocean is absorbing greenhouse-gas-induced warming is also now known to be fairly modest. In other words, the two excuses used to explain away the slow, mild warming we have actually experienced—culminating in a standstill in which global temperatures are no higher than they were 16 years ago—no longer work.

In short: We can now estimate, based on observations, how sensitive the temperature is to carbon dioxide. We do not need to rely heavily on unproven models. Comparing the trend in global temperature over the past 100-150 years with the change in "radiative forcing" (heating or cooling power) from carbon dioxide, aerosols and other sources, minus ocean heat uptake, can now give a good estimate of climate sensitivity.

The conclusion—taking the best observational estimates of the change in decadal-average global temperature between 1871-80 and 2002-11, and of the corresponding changes in forcing and ocean heat uptake—is this: A doubling of CO2 will lead to a warming of 1.6°-1.7°C (2.9°-3.1°F).

Ridley further notes:

Some of the best recent observationally based research also points to climate sensitivity being about 1.6°C for a doubling of CO2. An impressive study published this year by Magne Aldrin of the Norwegian Computing Center and colleagues gives a most-likely estimate of 1.6°C. Michael Ring and Michael Schlesinger of the University of Illinois, using the most trustworthy temperature record, also estimate 1.6°C.

Why the discrepancy between the empirical data and model projections? In short, it arises from how models handle (or mishandle) the feedbacks from water vapor and clouds.

Go here to read the whole column.

Hat tip to Nick Schulz.

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  1. Science beats scaremongers looking to create a new powerbase. It works, bitches.

    1. Too bad those scaremongers scared people into wasting untold billions of dollars…

      1. They didn’t get their world version of N.I.C.E set up, so I’m counting it as a win. There will always be suckers to buy snake oil. When we’re really fortunate, they have to use their own money. We were only slightly fortunate in this case.

      2. Don’t care about others. I’m pissed they’ve wasted billions of dollars, some of which were MINE.

  2. One of the lovely things about the scientific method is that eventually observations will overthrow theories that make poor predictions.

    The problem is that people will cling to their theories and be very ingenious in dismissing, altering or making up observations to prevent the change. This ingenuity is often also utterly unconscious. History shows a large number of good scientists utterly fooling themselves with regards to specific enthusiasms.

    I was lucky as an undergrad to have some very good professors teaching the scientific method – Dr Boyd in particular who was very unstinting in his efforts to teach us to be brutally honest with ourselves.

    Which is why I very quickly grew suspicious of the anthropogenic global warming scare; I saw many of the things we were warned not to do being embraced by the scientist/showmen promoting it.

    1. BTW, Richard Feynman has some very valuable things to say on the subject:

      Feynman on the Scientific Method

      Feynman on Cargo Cult Science

      I think the educational and psychological studies I mentioned are
      examples of what I would like to call cargo cult science. In the
      South Seas there is a cargo cult of people. During the war they saw
      airplanes land with lots of good materials, and they want the same
      thing to happen now. So they’ve arranged to imitate things like
      runways, to put fires along the sides of the runways, to make a
      wooden hut for a man to sit in, with two wooden pieces on his head
      like headphones and bars of bamboo sticking out like antennas–he’s
      the controller–and they wait for the airplanes to land. They’re
      doing everything right. The form is perfect. It looks exactly the
      way it looked before. But it doesn’t work. No airplanes land. So
      I call these things cargo cult science, because they follow all the
      apparent precepts and forms of scientific investigation, but
      they’re missing something essential, because the planes don’t land.

      1. At least they didn’t realize that war brings the airplanes. There wouldn’t be any of these people left!

      2. One thing I heard about Darwin – if he heard a fact that he thought countered evolution, he would immediately write it down. He was looking for the truth, not to prove himself correct.

        Compare and contrast Michael Mann.

      3. Like astrologers. I knew someone who was smart and loved learning, but was a terrible student and couldn’t make it through college. She turned to astrology. Loved the books and tables and calculator steps, figuring out historical time zones around the world — all the trappings of being an engineer without having had to get a degree.

        She once admitted to me she could give a better reading of a stranger face to face without birth time and location than she could with that information and no face to face contact. As much as admitted the calculations were the window dressing for someone who was really good at reading people.

      4. Feynman was beaten into us for two semesters in Unit Ops lab. The observations are the key, everything that doesn’t fit them has to be re-examined.

  3. thank god we elected his Pestilency – another crisis has been averted due to his strong hand on the mighty tiller of industry.

  4. We do not need to rely heavily on unproven models.

    As far as I have seen, the models aren’t unproven, they’ve actually been proven wrong time and again. We seem to be seeing that here.

    1. As far as I have seen, you appear woefully unacquainted with the content and capacity of the models in question- a gap this may help remedy:

      http://vvattsupwiththat.blogsp…..ience.html

  5. The models are wrong? Unpossible! Speaking of models, that “bad idea” t-shirts chick over on the right has some righteous boobage. I could help her with cancer prevention…

    1. It’s weird, you can hardly see any bit of the T-Shirt they are advertising… No matter how closely I study it, I can’t make out the words.

      1. The latest in optical cloaking tech, just one click away!

    2. All I get are WoW ads. Crap.

      1. Apparently googleads has decided you are an asexual shut-in. Frankly I trust Google’s models more than those of climate scientists…

    3. One downside of running AdBlock is that I’ve no idea who you all are talking about. Is she the Snorg Tees gal who was famously getting a breast reduction? Hers were absolutely absurd, and did make the shirts difficult to make out, not that I wasn’t willing to spend the time to do so.

      1. No, this is the Bad Idea girl. I’ll find the other t-shirt girl when I find the picture.

  6. You know what else can be benign? That’s right, CANCER.

    1. If it’s benign, it isn’t cancer. Has to be malignant. (malignent?)

  7. Why the discrepancy between the empirical data and model projections? In short, it arises from how models handle (or mishandle) the feedbacks from water vapor and clouds.

    Water vapor and clouds. Scientists have been talking about how poorly understood atmospheric water is for decades. “Climate skeptics” have been talking about how the models are broken for decades. It seems we finally have the evidence to support something reasonable people have known for decades.

  8. Even if the temperature rise will be benign, we still have to contend with ocean acidification (As bailey has pointed out before). That alone is reason enough to halt our energy hungry global economy and switch to one that is based primarily on ponies.

    1. Re: Benjamin,

      That alone is reason enough to halt our energy hungry global economy and switch to one that is based primarily on ponies.

      You bastard! You made me sneeze my coffee out!

    2. Lol-PBUH. I peed a little.

  9. Some of the best recent observationally based research also points to climate sensitivity being about 1.6?C for a doubling of CO2.

    We’re very likely to blow past a doubling of CO2. Emissions continue to increase, and we’re currently raising the CO2 concentration by ~2 ppm/year.

    The rate at which the ocean is absorbing greenhouse-gas-induced warming is also now known to be fairly modest.

    Measurements disagree with him, but we know Ridley plays fast and loose with the truth.

    If this is indeed the case, then we would have seen about 0.6?C of warming so far…And this is, to repeat, roughly where we are.

    Actually, it’s 0.8?C, which is right on pace for 2?C for a doubling of CO2.

    1. Re: Jersey Patriot,

      We’re very likely to blow past a doubling of CO2.

      Are you conceding that he’s right? Otherwise, why mention that we’re past “doubling CO2”? That makes one conclude that you agree with his baseline.

      Measurements disagree with him, but we know Ridley plays fast and loose with the truth.

      I would be pretty skeptical of a well-poisoning website that calls itself “Watching the Deniers.” As far as I have seen from what he has written, I cannot see how Mr. Ridley can even come close to be a “denier.” He certainly does not believe the effects of global warming are as dire as some peddlers and mountebanks have pushed, but that does not mean he’s a “denier.”

      But then again, YOU have been known to play fast and loose with the truth.

      1. Ridley’s second sentence uses the word “theological”. That would be well-poisoning.

        I cannot see how Mr. Ridley can even come close to be a “denier.”

        That sentence is very true. You can’t see it.

    2. “We’re very likely to blow past a doubling of CO2. Emissions continue to increase, and we’re currently raising the CO2 concentration by ~2 ppm/year.

      Currently.

      The problem with all Malthusian logic is it looks at current trends and assumed that they will continue forever unabated.

      The reality of the situation is that demographic and technological changes will begin to mute the CO2 produced per capita within the next 20 years (this has already occurred in the US and Western Europe) and annual global CO2 production will peak sometime within the next 60 – 80 years and then fall rapidly after that.

      Lets say that this leads to a tripling of atmospheric CO2 levels by the year 2150 and then falling back some.

      Even with a climate sensativity of 2 degrees for each doubling of CO2 you’re still only looking at around a 3 – 3.5 degree Celsius change in global average temperatures at most and it will take us over 100 years to get there.

      Now, imagine where we will be technologically 100 years from now? One would be hard pressed to show that such warming would even be a problem, let alone a catastrophy for our decendants to deal with.

      1. Now, imagine where we will be technologically 100 years from now?

        They’re doing their best to halt that advance.

      2. By your logic, you can dump all the raw sewage you want onto rich people’s lands, because they can afford to clean it up. I didn’t realize “soak the rich” was the new libertarian philosophy.

        The more pressing problems you miss are the positive feedbacks to warming: melting permafrost, warmer oceans unable to dissolve as much CO2, rapid death of forests due to inability to adapt, etc. The permafrost melt and forest deaths have already begun at 0.8C and 400 ppm. Do you think they’re going to slow down as it warms? Of course not. As they collapse, our ability to stop the warming decreases, and we suffer more.

        Now, imagine where we will be technologically 100 years from now?

        In a world struggling to keep agriculture going, don’t expect rapid technological change. Are you going to ship excess iPads to Bangladesh for consumption?

        1. Struggling to keep agriculture going? We can grow food in places and at temperatures that were impossible 50 years ago. In spite of a massive increase in population, food prices have declined rapidly for the last century.

          You can’t just say ‘We’re going to be starving so how will technology change rapidly?’ when further advances in pesticides, genetically modified food and other farming techniques make it incredibly unlikely that agriculture will suffer in the way you claim.

          1. You don’t even need new technology. (even though we will be getting tons of it)

            Crop yields per acre in the developed world are 2 to 4 times greater then the the rest of the world.

            You just need to spread our current technology to the rest of the world to meet any future demand. And where stability free markets and property rights are allowed that technology easily moves there.

            JP is nothing more then dreamer of apocalyptic doom.

            1. Wouldn’t you be, if you were in Jersey?

        2. “By your logic, you can dump all the raw sewage you want onto rich people’s lands, because they can afford to clean it up.”

          Um, I can’t even see a theoretical path over the river and through the woods linking this statement and mine.

          My logic is simply that Global Warming is not an existential threat and while it absolutely does exist it will be easily managed by mankinds technological prowess.

          “The more pressing problems you miss are the positive feedbacks to warming: melting permafrost, warmer oceans unable to dissolve as much CO2, rapid death of forests due to inability to adapt, etc.”

          Incorrect, those feedback mechanism, along with the negative feedback mechanisms (warmer planet leading to moister air leading to more clouds, more CO2 leading to more rapid plant growth leading to more absorption of CO2 and Oxygen production, etc) are already accounted for in the climate sensativity measurements.

          This is not to say that there will be no negative consequences from global warming, it is to say that those consequences are no where near as bad as ANY of the proposed “cures”.

          In effect the Global Warming Watermelons are proposing invasive brain surgery to extract an infected tooth through the top of the skull when a simple root canal would suffice.

          1. Why do I get the feeling that you never had a root canal procedure?

    3. We’re very likely to blow past a doubling of CO2.

      Not with fracking we’re not.

      Actually, it’s 0.8?C, which is right on pace for 2?C for a doubling of CO2.

      Cite?

      I love it when the warmists come out. Seeing the little beads of sweat as they stutter for something to hang on to gives me a little joy.

      1. Not with fracking we’re not.

        Only if the coal is left in the ground. If it’s dug up and exported, fracking does no good.

        As for 0.8?C, here’s a mention by NASA, citing James Hansen. NOAA gives it as 0.74?C since the late 19th century.

        1. JP: Let’s see. Doubling of CO2 would imply going from about 280 ppm in 1750 to 560 ppm, right? I note that NOAA adds up all of the greenhouse gases emitted and concludes that we are already at the carbon dioxide equivalent of 473 ppm, which is about a 60 percent increase over pre-industrial levels of greenhouse gases.

          So if this is true, and for simplicity sake let’s just double (2x CO2) Hansen’s figure of 0.8 degrees Celsius that would equal a temperature increase of, hmmm, 1.6 degrees Celsius for an accumulation of greenhouse gases equal to a doubling of CO2.

          1. There’s a 20-30 year lag between CO2 emissions and warming CO2 emissions rose rapidly since 2000, and that heating effect has not yet been felt.

            1. There’s a 20-30 year lag between CO2 emissions and warming

              Why is there a lag?

              Does CO2 slow the speed of light?

              Now you are just making crap up.

            2. If there’s a 20-30 year lag, then why has there been decreased warming since the late 90’s? Did CO2 emissions fall in the 1970s?

              More importantly, I’ve heard people arguing that the decreased warming is the result of increased sulfur dioxide emissions from Chinese coal. Those increased emissions only came in the 90’s and 2000’s. So if that’s had an impact already, then why? Does sulfur dioxide have an impact more quickly than CO2?

    4. We’re very likely to blow past a doubling of CO2.

      You are wrong but even if you are right it will not matter.

      Once you double CO2 to 560 ppm all the IR present is absorbed.

      More CO2 in the atmosphere will not be able to capture heat that does not exist.

      Actually, it’s 0.8?C, which is right on pace for 2?C for a doubling of CO2.

      As Bailey mentioned below 2 times 0.8 equals 1.6 degrees C not 2.0.

      You have just admitted that absolute limit of temperature rise from CO2 is 1.6 degrees C.

  10. “The scientists at the IPCC next year have to choose whether they will admit ? contrary to what complex, unverifiable computer models indicate ? that the observational evidence now points toward lukewarm temperature change with no net harm. On behalf of all those poor people whose lives are being ruined by high food and energy prices caused by the diversion of corn to biofuel and the subsidizing of renewable energy driven by carboncrats and their crony-capitalist friends, one can only hope the scientists will do so.”

    That’s not the narrative that the doom peddlers want to push, however, because admiting that there could be a benign effect from global warming cannot bring about the change they want, which is to control every aspect of your life.

    So while I do expect that some of the more honest and professional of scientists scratch their heads and reluctanctly concede with a hint of disappointment, don’t expect the liberals and enviro-quacks to do the same – Noam Chomsky went as far as to accuse the right of creating the myth that catastrophic Global Warming was a leftwing hoax. With people that committed to the lie, don’t expect miracles.

    1. I hope they go all in on that busted straight.

  11. But it’s been so goddamn hot this year!

  12. How ‘expert’ an IPCC reviewer is Nic Lewis ?

    Anybody can become one for the asking , and confidence in this economic statistician’s [ narrow] choice of climate sensitivity references is eroded by his role as Steve Mcintyre’s understudy in his sole appearance in the literature:

    O’Donnell, Ryan, Nicholas Lewis, Steve McIntyre, Jeff Condon, 2011: Improved Methods for PCA-Based Reconstructions: Case Study Using the Steig et al. (2009) Antarctic Temperature Reconstruction. J. Climate, 24, 2099?2115.

    1. Russell: How high is your confidence in climate statisticians analyses?

      See for example, the Lewis post about manipulating climate sensitivity results over at Curry’s blog.

      BTW, I’m just curious, did you sign up to be an IPCC “expert reviewer?”

      1. No Ron- I was invited.

        Lewis views on Bayesian priors seem less germane than his lack of physical analysis.

        His cavalier attitude towards confidentiality does not inspire respect- how many times have you headed work sent around for comment “Draft Only do not cite or quote ?

    2. My what a large appeal to authority fallacy you have.

      1. The fallacy is your failure to note the leaker’s rhetoric of motives..

        They get to selectively quote an unperfected draft that has yet to benefit from the efforts of those reviewing it.

        This is bad for the signal to noise ratio in the policy debate and ethically contemptible because it excludes from that premature debate those who honor their fiduciary undertakings as reviewers.

  13. It appears this conclusion is based on the assumption that observed warming is all due to anthropogenic CO2.

    I think that’s an erroneous assumption.

  14. Here’s the thing, even if it’s shown to be benign it will still be used as an argument for policy because those in favor of action desire those policies regardless of catastrophe. This comic made the rounds among the catastrophists and was quite popular, it pretty much sums up the thinking: http://climatesanity.files.wor…..-paper.jpg

  15. Nic Lewis has set out his detailed arguments here

    http://bit.ly/TZqT1P

  16. Well, Russia is having it’s coldest weather in 70 years, I can certainly see how they would like it.

  17. As Ron knows, Matt Ridley’s family estates sport an assortment of coal mines one of which has been transformed into earth art

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