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Carbon: How much is enough?

Richard Black | 18:49 UK time, Thursday, 26 March 2009

On my last entry, TandF1 posted a comment about a subject I've been planning to write about for a while - so what better time than now to delve into it?

The issue is this: how much carbon dioxide should each person on Earth be "allowed" to emit?

Put another way: if emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases are to be limited, at some target date, to a figure that science suggests can stave off "dangerous" climate change, then how does that figure break down at the personal level, when shared out among the world's citizens?

(We are not talking here, pretty obviously, only about emissions directly produced by you or me or them over there, but also each person's share of emissions produced by others for things that benefit us, such as heating our house, manufacturing cement to build our house, or creating garden fertilisers to help our house look beautiful.)

As TandF1 noted, the figure that's being bandied about these days is two tonnes of CO2 (or its equivalent) per person per year.

It's derived from the ambition of halving global emissions by 2050 compared with 1990 levels, as expressed by G8 leaders during last year's summit in Japan. In turn, this may be enough to constrain the global average temperature rise to within 2-3C at most, which according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) would avoid many of the most damaging projected impacts.

Currently, the average Briton produces about 10 tonnes per year - the average US citizen more, the average Chinese or Indian considerably less.

So a great deal of convergence is implied, and I should be remiss if I did not point up here the important role of Aubrey Meyer and the Global Commons Institute in developing the concept of Contraction and Convergence.

To get a quick idea of how the two tonnes figure translates to everyday life, you would reach it simply by driving a Tata Nano for 20,000km a year, or by taking a return flight from London to Bangkok or from Moscow to San Francisco. It does not, then, sound very much.

(These aren't intended to be exact figures, by the way, merely indicative; just like economic prudence, it depends on how you calculate it.)

Lord (Nicholas) Stern is among the leading figures on the political climate change stage that have promulgated the two tonne per person idea.

I had a chat with him a couple of months ago now and raised the question of what this actually means in practice. If the average Briton were to cut his or her emissions by 80%, as the idea implies, what would probably be producing those two tonnes, and what would have to change?

The big one, he said, was agriculture. It's relatively difficult to reduce or eliminate greenhouse gas production from ruminant animals or fertiliser use, so this is where much of our two tonnes per person would probably have to go.


Cutting the amount of meat eaten, as proposed recently by IPCC chief Rajendra Pachauri, would reduce agricultural emissions, but that's a different story.

So, assuming this goal becomes adopted by a working majority of the world's governments and translated into policy - a huge assumption I know, but stick with it for the moment - every source of greenhouse gas emissions other than agriculture would have to shrink markedly or disappear completely.

So does that mean you wouldn't be able to drive from one end of the country to the other, or fly off to your favourite holiday destination?

The conventional answer to this is "no". According to the UK's Climate Change Committee, for example, which backs the 80% figure, many low-carbon or zero-carbon technologies would come in to do the job instead.

The committee's blueprint sees almost all electricity generation switching to renewables, nuclear, or fossil fuels with carbon capture and we would produce more than we currently use in order to power a substantial slice of transport. A similar picture pertains in the "wedges" idea developed by Robert Socolow (there are other conceptualisations too).

There are some areas where the idea that there's an easy technological replacement still looks a bit tricky, such as aviation, but the proposals carry no distinguishable whiff of hair-shirts or a bread-and-water diet.

There's also the question of carbon offsets, where rich countries (or potentially even rich people, if we had personal carbon allowances) pay others to reduce emissions for them - which could allow the rich to continue above two tonnes, while financially rewarding poorer people for staying below the figure.

However, other factors might conspire to reduce the two tonnes figure. TandF1 points out that population growth is one: the more people on the planet, the lower each person's emissions would have to be under this kind of regime.

The Carbon Budget Proposal, prepared by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and released in December at the Poznan UN climate change talks, adds another factor to the mix: historical equity.

It starts with the standpoint that the warming by, say, 2050 is caused by all the emissions that have gone into the atmosphere by that point, starting from the dawn of the industrial age.

Engraving of an aerial view of Clarks Anchor Thread Works at Paisley near Glasgow, Britain, during the 1880s

Each country, it argues, should be entitled to a share of that total amount that is proportional to its population over the period.

By this measure, countries that began emitting early, such as the UK, have by now already used up more than their share. The report proposes a financial mechanism whereby westerners would have to buy spare shares from developing nations, the annual price tag measured in hundreds of billions of euros.

I won't go into the financial aspects here; but the important bit from the carbon sharing point of view is that this approach to the issue effectively lowers the two tonnes per person figure even further if you live in a rich, developed nation.

(There is a fair amount of wrangling in learned discourse as to the merits of the "historical equity" idea, as you might guess. Some commentators argue it makes today's western citizens responsible for the actions of previous generations who knew nothing of radiative forcing; others say true, they didn't know, but developed countries still benefited from the economic growth associated with those emissions, and so should pay up.)

If things weren't already complicated enough, the Chinese report also points out that equal historical shares for all might not, in fact, be equitable.

If you live in a country where the weather's generally very hot or very cold, you might need to use more energy than in places where the seasons run more equably.

In a country with a sparsely-spread population, such as Canada or Australia, it might be reasonable to allow transport emissions a bit more leeway, and if your country is rich in coal but poor in natural gas, again, your allowance should also be bumped up a bit.

(The country that does best out of all this, by the way, is Russia, which nets about a 50% increase in its permitted pot.)

So let's go back to the original question; how much carbon dioxide should each person on Earth be "allowed" to emit?

Two tonnes by 2050 might be a starting point for discussions; but precisely how much, and by what means, are clearly questions where important nuances pertain.

Where there are grey areas, there is also much room for political wrangling; and of course any agreement on contraction and convergence towards some figure like two tonnes, with whatever caveats, in the end has to be negotiated between governments.

Now, my guess is that some of you are going to approve of the idea and think the world should move towards it as soon as possible, and others are going to hate it, and I'm sure you'll post comments as usual.

But for those turned on by two tonnes or thereabouts, I have a particular question: politically, how can it be turned into reality?

I ask not because I endorse the idea - that's not my job - but because I am struggling to see, through the realities of credit crunch and business pressures and electoral concerns, a political path that leads to its adoption, and I'd be interested in seeing whether anyone else has succeeded where I am failing.


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  • 1. At 1:07pm on 27 Mar 2009, Paul in Crawley wrote:

    I think anything other than eventually having equal shares all round would be impossible to agree on internationally or justify to the public. The difference between where we are today and where we want to end up does look quite daunting, but remember that any limits would be phased in gradually over many years.

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  • 2. At 1:53pm on 27 Mar 2009, streuth_mate wrote:

    The fundamental problem is that the human population of the planet is too high to be supported in a sustainable way.

    The only practical solution to the problem has previously been proposed attempted and condemned in northern Europe during WWII.... "Zyklon B".

    It's worth being concerned about the environment, but for me there is no level of consideration where mankind must self harm, for the benefit of the planet. That is for "mother nature" to do to us.

    One thing is for sure. With or without mankind, mother nature will carry on.

    Every living thing must be born, may live, and will die.

    Each and every one of us must consider whether we have the right to limit or constrain future of others. For me, I don't.

    If you try to decide my fate for me, not only will I die defending myself, but I won't be too concerned if I use the means provided by mother nature to achieve my defence.

    Every living thing must be born, may live, and will die.

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  • 3. At 1:55pm on 27 Mar 2009, CuckooToo wrote:

    So what you appear to be saying, is despite the fact that the science is far from settled, despite the IPCC's reservations about computer modelling, despite the BBC's refusal to report newsworthy articles by sceptics, it's a done deal?

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  • 4. At 2:11pm on 27 Mar 2009, coxllphd wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 5. At 3:14pm on 27 Mar 2009, pmbbiggsy wrote:

    Sorry, but CO2 is a harmless naturally occurring aerial plant food gas. 'Dangerous climate change' driven by CO2 exists only in computer models. Atmospheric methane has been stable in the atmosphere for 10 years, prior to an upward blip in 2007, which seems to have a natural origin evidenced by a simultaneous rise in both Northern and Southern Hemispheres:

    CO2 alarmism is simply a means to an end - that end being social engineering and tax raising to satisfy a political agenda.

    Meanwhile, peer reviewed papers are being published showing 'climate shifts' are natural and that the influence of the sun is underestimated. None of these papers get an airing on the BBC website, nor will the IPCC take any notice of them.

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  • 6. At 3:18pm on 27 Mar 2009, FRACTIOUS wrote:

    Roger, it's time you realised that there’s NO political path that will lead to it's adoption, and that the whole idea is nonsense. It’s no good asking Lord Stern either, because his views are irrelevant. The world will simply not accept the pointless sacrifices that such a policy would dictate.

    Frankly, long before any political agreement could be found, the concept of our ever being able to control climate change will commonly be regarded as a risible hangover from the appallingly bad science that was allowed to flourish during the early years of the 21st century. Nuclear power will of necessity make a much bigger contribution to our needs, with coal seeing a huge resurgence in demand, if only to provide a measure of energy security in place of gas. All else is secondary.

    Time spent worrying over how we can possibly arrange a reduction of 80% use of fossil fuels in the meantime, is just time wasted. Please, get over this obsession.

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  • 7. At 3:41pm on 27 Mar 2009, PAWB46 wrote:

    Until there is proof that CO2 is harming life on the planet, then I will consider these types of proposals to limit CO2 emissions to be an intrusion on my right to emit a harmless trace gas (as humans have always done). If ever there is convincing scientific evidence (which, because of the physics, I'm sure there cannot be), then I will consider that a gradual reduction in CO2 emissions may be necessary.

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  • 8. At 3:43pm on 27 Mar 2009, jon112uk wrote:

    How much CO2 has been wasted on flying all these politicians, bureaucrats (and reporters) about the world in order to create this latest 'binding target'?

    Anybody want to place a bet on even 10% of the signatories meeting the target???

    What a joke.

    If the same amount of money and effort was put into serious alternatives to fossil fuels I could drive a decent car for 20,000km and BBC reporters could fly as many miles as they wanted, all without any significant amounts of additional CO2. It's not the car or the plane - it's the fossil fuel - anyone hearing that???

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  • 9. At 4:25pm on 27 Mar 2009, Charles Purkess wrote:

    We need electrolysers for an alternative fuel

    We must focus on optimising the performance of the heavily subsidised renewables already deployed,reducing harmful air pollution and more to the point reduce dependancy on hydrocarbons - we need a clean environmentally neutral alternative and affordable fuel- only hydrogen fits the bill.

    Renewable hydrogen generated by an electrolyser uses electricity from renewables to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen, a fuel and store of energy, eneables energy supply to match our demand.

    Hydrogen like any fuel is combustible fuel, yet it is also very light and will escape upwards with a velocity of 45 mph, so it is very safe for transport and storage.

    In fact we do not have to wait for fuel cells to use it, as it burns indidtinguishably to petrol in the internal combustion engine, and is compatible with infrastructure.

    Town gas used to comprise 50% hydrogen, and was distributed throughout our towns cities to our homes and businesses prior to North Sea gas.

    The focus has to be on electrolysers making the most of renewables or off peak nuclear electricity to produce an alternative fuel, supplement our gas supplies, fuel transport..otherwise the lights really will go out. UK technology has a lead but needs to be fronted with future energy policy.

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  • 10. At 5:05pm on 27 Mar 2009, CuckooToo wrote:

    Can you imagine what jolly japes the greens will dream up on April 1st?

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  • 11. At 5:09pm on 27 Mar 2009, CuckooToo wrote:,2933,510937,00.html

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  • 12. At 5:15pm on 27 Mar 2009, CuckooToo wrote:

    @coxllphd #4

    There is no information that I can find on your website for the source of your "totally clean, meaning totally emissions-free energy", but you are asking us to make a financial contribution

    Could you give us more information please?

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  • 13. At 5:21pm on 27 Mar 2009, Beejay wrote:

    Richard! There is no problem with Carbon Dioxide, the amount the atmosphere holds [1/10,000th more by volume since 1750 btw] or the fact that no one can pin down why the climate changes and when it changes. It has little or nothing to do with CO2 levels.
    Please do not quote any computer predictions because they patently do not come close to reality. Throw away the politico scientific Gore promoted claptrap and what is left? Only Green hysteria led propaganda. Bring on some more CO2 as all our plants love it.
    For the umpteenth time CO2 is Not a poison to plants or us, at the levels we have now, or the much greater levels [10/15/20 times higher] they were in the dim past. Clean coal is far more efficient than wind power. Nuclear as well. Biofuels should be shelved and land used for food for the masses.
    Ask the BBC big-wigs to put both sides of the climate argument forward as your anti skeptic stance is failing miserably and will continue to do so until all credibility is lost by the blinkered BBC stance on man made Global Warming.

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  • 14. At 5:23pm on 27 Mar 2009, CuckooToo wrote:

    Our society has determined that it is immoral to punish a person unless every element of a crime has been established beyond a reasonable doubt. We don’t rely on the best guesses of the police or the opinions of criminal justice experts as to the likelihood of guilt. The prosecution has to meet an evidentiary burden of proof which is very high.

    Climate alarmists are advocating political action which will “punish” billions of people. The harm suffered by the poorest will be severe. And these poor haven’t even committed a crime. Aren’t they entitled to at least as much due process as a criminal? As a matter of morality, what standard of evidence should be required before such punishment is imposed? What burden should the alarmist advocates satisfy?

    I don’t think honesty is asking too much. Is it asking too much that climate scientists check each other’s work before they make grand pronouncements of their theories to the rest of us? I believe that a scientist with a moral conscience, a bit of self-awareness and some knowledge of the dangers of hubris would realize his moral duty to be as sure as he could possibly be before demanding that billions of poor people suffer from his advocacy. At a minimum, that would mean checking and replicating every study. It would mean openness and transparency. It would mean quality control of the highest order. It would mean cessation of the dishonest presentations to the public and character assassination of anyone with a different viewpoint. And it would mean an insistence that other climate scientists conform to those minimum moral standards.

    Instead, they play hide the ball. We get studies filled with lazy, wild guesses which boggle the mind; “the dog ate my homework” excuses to reasonable requests for data; acceptance of pathetically bad studies without question; and failures of quality control for data that are jaw-dropping in their implications. And at every turn, the behavior of prominent climate alarmists sets off warning bells that tell us their moral compasses are seriously askew.

    The alarmist scientists keep saying that they have the science on their side. But they never replicate studies. They never check each other’s work. They say they don’t have time to bother with quality control. And when others start checking, the mistakes keep piling higher and higher. The abstinence about transparency is a scandal. The refusal to replicate is inexplicable. The quality control is so bad it borders on criminal.

    It’s time for good people to do something. Nothing won’t cut it anymore.

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  • 15. At 7:00pm on 27 Mar 2009, Bicycle-Fan wrote:


    How did you get, done deal out of struggling to see, - a political path that leads to its adoption ?


    To optimize the limited amount of renewable energy that will be available, we should focus on efficiency.

    Richard Black;

    This is the political path that I can see leading to the adoption a “carbon diet” of less than 2 tones per person per year;

    Meat consumption can drop some, and we will be he healthier for it. Better crop rotation can reduce the need for nitrogen fertilizers.

    Creating 100% of our power from existing hydro, and other renewable sources, like solar and wind, should not require technology that does not exist. But a solar panel that can convert wind pressure to electricity, without moving, would be nice.

    Most industrial uses of energy, should be able to be converted to direct solar, or molten salt stored, solar heat. I have even seen plans for solar refrigeration, in homePower magazine.

    President Obama already has a campaign to weatherize a million homes a year. Adding insulation or even heat pumps (to store solar heat underground) to other buildings, is not difficult.

    So I assume the hardest carbon nut to crack is transportation.

    Some concerned group, with the resources to find the numbers and do the math (please do not expect me to do it) should compare the entire life-cycle carbon footprint of all the major modes of transportation. To do this, they should add manufacturing costs, fuel costs and that modes share of hospital costs. To make these numbers fair, multiply manufacturing costs, by the number of times in a century the vehicle will be scrapped and replaced, then divide by 100 for average yearly cost.

    If rail is the safest and most energy efficient mode, then the cost of building an improved rail network will be minimal compared to the full cost of the private motor vehicle. And since rail will be even safer when no private vehicles can get stuck on a level crossing, once an adequate rail alternative is in place, it should not be impossible eliminate the true hazard.

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  • 16. At 7:30pm on 27 Mar 2009, wfmgeo wrote:

    The effects of added CO2 on forcing are asymptotic. Doubling CO2 concentrations from 285 ppm to 570 ppm will take watts per square meter from about 257 to 261 in terms of CO2 forcing alone, an almost inconsequential increase. And THAT assumes there is no negative feedback from increased cloud formation, which will block the vast majority of this effect if recent recalculations based on satellite data are correct.

    What may be of interest to those familiar with the true nature of human complexity is simply this. From everything we can determine from the proxy records, interglacials, like the one we live at the end of today (the Holocene) have tended to last half of a precessional cycle. The precessional cycle of the earth's wobbly axis is 23,000 years, which makes the Holocene, at 11,500 years old, more or less done. The last interglacial, the Eemian, lasted about 10,000 years (between 127-117k years before present)depending upon whose analysis of the various proxy records you believe. It ended in what is now referred to as the LEAP, or Late Eemian Aridity Pulse. The LEAP lasted 468 years with dust storms, aridity, bushfire and a decline of thermophilous trees at the time of glacial inception. The onset of the LEAP occurred within just two decades, and demonstrates the existence of a sharp threshold in insolation at about 416 watts per square meter at 65 degrees north latitude, fairly close to the 2005 level of 427 watts per square meter.

    Data from corals in Barbados and the Huon peninsula indicate that sea levels then fell 60 meters in 6,000 years as we slid rapidly out of the Eemian and into the Wisconsin ice age. at the Last Glacial Maximum between 23k and 17k years ago, sea levels leveled out at about 107 meters below present day. Half of the warming that brought us out of the last ice age into the Holocene occurred in less than a decade.

    All of this occurred at least 10k-130k years before present. Meaning of course, that we had nothing to do with it. Now whether or not GHGs did it is still a lively debate amongst those who do not accept the ice core, deep sea sediment cores and pollen and tree core data. But they are not many.

    The fascinating thing here is that if GHG theorists are correct, and CO2 is really the nemesis it is being made out to be, and if the massive amounts of facts we have managed to collect are right, and this interglacial is just about kaput (remember, only half a prcessional cycle), then we just may find ourselves needing to stuff as much CO2 as we can into our earthly blanket before the bottom falls our of the Holocene.

    Don't you just love denial?

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  • 17. At 8:39pm on 27 Mar 2009, Veli Albert Kallio wrote:

    There is a straightforward solution to your question about turning our emissions from 10,000 kg / year to 2,000 kg: "politically, how can it be turned into reality? There is no need to struggle to see a political path that leads to its adoption. If you are interested in seeing whether anyone else has succeeded where I am failing, the answer is here: WTIs.

    What are the WTIs?

    WTI stands for the Work Time Initiative. It is a scheme where time spent (on sweaty and slow) public transport, such as buses and trains, is made as payable working hours. The employee produces the travel tickets and valid timetable (proof of travel) to his or her employer to claim the commuting time in public transport as a payable working hours (full ticket prices also refunded). WTIs reward people who spend longer hours to get to the work as connections and waiting time are all added up.

    The employer's accountants submit quarterly or biannually all the cost of their commuted employers to the government bursary which reimburses the extra empolyment cost incurred by the people going to the public transport (it only pays for their way to travel between home and work).

    The Government Treasury then levies the cost of those commuters who prefer not to use public transport as fuel duties, road taxes, congestion charges (i.e. Monday to Friday 9AM-5PM licence, evening licence and weekend licence) to segregate and manage habitual drivers who choose to go to work in their own car nevertheless of encouragements.

    The cleverness of the WTI is that it virtually forces the developers of the office spaces to look into the aspect of having public transport infrastructure in place to make the office sites accessible where they are built. A government business rates are also made to support the WTI compliant property planning and government DTI grants can be obtained to instigate the public transport provision if there is no certainty of it.

    Department of Transport will then issue a 5-year guarantee for supporting the instigation of the service twice a day to take public or employees from transport hubs to the WTI compliant business development.

    WTIs do initiate a secondary emissions reduction as the public becomes more acquainted with their public transport services and may start using buses and trains for their other journeys as well and reduce shop rounds. WTIs also apply for schools by arraanging home collections this reducing the school run traffic during the peak hours.

    WTIs do include a limited taxi provision about once a month, with extra allowance when there is failure to supply public transport to or back from the work.

    The key purpose of WTI is to reimburse the public for the extra cost and time it takes to travel between home and work by using public transport. Any society that really values something as important will attach a monetary value and reward for the activities society sees important and worthy to be maintained such as schools, hospitals, prisons and army.

    The public transport is an important provison and if our society is serious about emission and it wants to achieve effective reduction in the fuel use, the only solution will be Work Time Initiatives (WTIs).

    WTIs also reduce secondary emissions: i.e. congestion-related traffic slowdowns, need to enlarge road networks, reducing amount of oil extracted from the ground, oil transported by sea, and energy used to turn crude oil for the end-user products, reduced wear and tear of vehicles and roads which all add their bits of energy use and emissions.

    Veli Albert Kallio

    Fellow of Royal Geographical Society
    Member of Geoengineering and Climateintervention

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  • 18. At 9:12pm on 27 Mar 2009, Neil Hyde wrote:

    Despite having had some reasonably lucid correspondence with Richard off line, I am completely running out of patience with the BBC .


    No matter how many complaints are made to the editors, or governors , none are responded to , is Moonbat controlling output ?

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  • 19. At 10:46pm on 27 Mar 2009, Neil Hyde wrote:

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  • 20. At 01:04am on 28 Mar 2009, David L wrote:

    4. coxllphd

    That website does the green lobby no favors. My only conclusion can be that you’ve accompanied that website with letters aimed at good willed but slightly naïve people who own credit cards.

    7. PAWB46
    I'm not one for making an argument out of nothing, but I have to take issue with this post from a philosophical point of view. Firstly, someone's "right to emit" anything into our one shared atmosphere is something we must be very wary of. Of course, our very existence changes the atmosphere, but actions which are discressionary should be looked at as moral issues, because they may have an impact on other peoples’ quality of life.

    You say you would "consider that a gradual reduction... may be necessary" – presumably, for the good of yourself and others. Lets transfer this logic back a few years to when smoking was not proven 100% to be harmful, but there were questions. Surely the sensible thing to do then was to smoke away from other people, so you did not inflict any potential health risks on them. Unfortunately, with climate change, the geographical implications are far more wide spread, so the logical step surely becomes, what measures we can take, we should – even if we never get to 100% proof.

    I haven’t made my mind up about Global Warming. CO2 does impact climate (FACT), along with water vapour and various other gases. It makes sense to me on a very basic level that different gases have different properties and interact with photons differently, but I don’t find Al Gore’s unscientific presentation convincing. I do find the rise in in CO2 (yes, only 1/100,000 – but still 30% higher than the Earth has seen in at least 600,000 years) slightly alarming.


    My conclusion though: Stop playing the stupid blame game; stop saying “what’s the minimum we can do?” and say “Is a zero carbon economy possible?” – where it is, lets just do it. There is no fundamental reason why we should burn hydrocarbons – we only do it because we always have. Hydrocarbons WILL run out (one rather convincing argument to get off them before its too late). Protecting economies from oil shocks would do wonders for global economic and political stability for one thing.

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  • 21. At 01:15am on 28 Mar 2009, wfmgeo wrote:

    In my earlier post I failed to respond to the final bit. Personally, from the now over 2,600 papers I have stuffed into my "cybrary" after reading and highlighting the relevant bits in them, I have become a true believer in the need to work out how to control climate. I know, I know, you probably will not believe this. But it is true. I think we need to get over all manner of denial and join hands in the struggle against climate change, as like it or not, it will soon be upon us.

    And practice makes perfect. For the past few months I have been researching the changes in sea level and temperature that have occurred not only in this interglacial, but the previous one, the Eemian, the one in which Homo sapiens makes its first appearance on the fossil record stage, and the Yarmouth (or Mindel Riss), the one before that. The striking thing is that during the Eemian (or Riss-Wurm), there were sea level highstands documented to have occurred at least five times, each higher than present, and at least 20 meters above present in the Caymans (perhaps as much as 52 meters above present in Siberia). In just the Holocene, the one in which all of human civilization has occurred, evidence has been growing for sea level highstands at least two times higher than present, one recently documented in the Gulf of Mexico indicates to have been in the +3 meters range during the Holocene Climate Optimum just 6-7k years ago (during the ancient Egyptian Empire).

    Since these things occur naturally during each interglacial, and obviously we had nothing to do with them, then we simply must spend all manner of treasure to combat our own predicted effects in order to gain experience and the technical know-how to confront nature - "mano y mano". By standing up to nature and beating it, we will be able to live in harmony with it. Furthermore, achieving victory against a predicted 0.6 meter or 4-5 meter (IPCC or Gorical, keep going up if you must) anthropogenic rise in sea level theoretically will provide us the weapons to wage climate war against the 400 foot changes in sea level that occur so regularly that we set our geologic clocks by them. Assuming of course that we do this smart.

    If we are smart, we will develop our climate change weapons to work in both modes, that is to say while victoriously eliminating global warming and sea level rise, we will engineer those tools to work in reverse, like an automobile but this time with much better gearing in reverse than in forward. Because not only are we still shy of where we normally end up during these peskily reliable, dramatic and unavoidable interglacials, we will need to be able to also melt the miles thick ice sheets that pile up and run the oceans down 107 meters at least below present, half of which happens stunningly quickly if the Yarmouth and Eemian interglacial terminations are any proof. I mean, if we are going to spend this kind of treasure, surely we will be smart enough to recognize that although we are now mostly certain we are going to heat the place up handily, the Holocene is pretty much done.

    So be thinking about a robust reverse backswing as you trudge forward, climate change cudgels in hand. Because if the past has ever provided any glimpse of the future, you will need your backswing about 3-4 times more than you will need your forward slice. And typically, there are so few left after these interglacial terminations, they are going to have to be especially well trained..........

    Meanwhile, enjoy the interglacial!

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  • 22. At 02:22am on 28 Mar 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To wfmgeo #21:
    - Welcome aboard!

    Carbon - How much?

    One point two tonnes per capita, according to George Monbiot, in his extremely thorough book "Heat" (2006).

    I had thought, before reading his book, that trains and fancy rapid transit was probably the way to go, but George convincingly argues that the humble bus is an excellent choice in most circumstances.

    For those not into books, his website is always informative, and both timely and historical. Mr. Monbiot contributes weekly to the Guardian, and his articles are available for free on his website. His archive is large and covers a lot of ground.

    Our family car was stolen several years ago, and we never replaced it. My wife didn't think we could live without a car at first, but now doesn't want one. We walk, cycle and take public transport, and find this more than adequate in the city. I like my four and a half year old son to get out and rub elbows on the bus.

    I do miss a vehicle (prefer half tons) for getting to the mountains, and find that the transportation network is not yet set up for this - not at reasonable rates (We're one to two hours from the mountains).

    I also think that there are too many of us on the planet - easily solved - self-limit our numbers.

    And we just consume too much that is unnecessary. Food, water, and shelter are necessary for most of us, as for the rest?

    Perhaps necessity is not only the mother of invention, but the only good reason for doing anything??

    In the short and medium term, efficient use of what we have or can improve, and the curtailment of non-necessities would seem the most beneficial, while we await more compelling evidence from the natural world.

    Having blogged for awhile now on climate change, and having discussed this same subject on the street, so to speak, I think an act of nature may be required to convince many of us that this is real. And climate change turns out to be only the tip of the iceberg. We have managed to alter the chemistry of the world ocean, and collapse most of its large fish stocks. There are very serious implications here, but not to people who don't think climate change is a threat.

    So we wait, and do what we can, which will hopefully be enough. For surely there is a threshold in human consciousness as well as in climate change, and when that threshold is reached, we will act, from the bottom up, the way it should be in a democractic world.

    - Manysummits, Calgary -

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  • 23. At 03:48am on 28 Mar 2009, TJ wrote:

    To manysummits #22

    Reference your comment: "we will act, from the bottom up, the way it should be in a democratic world".
    Just did a count of those 'for' AGW and those ‘against’ of the comments here on this article. 6 are for AGW and 13 against. This actually is pretty high as the norm I'm seeing is about 50:50 (must be a message to Richard here:)). So if democracy, as you mention, is allowed to run its course the whole business of AGW would be sent back to the drawing board or removed from the table.
    Unfortunately the political tidy is against democracy. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency in the USA) has declared CO2 a pollutant and will likely pass into law and our energy consumption will be legislated against and controlled by active policing.
    Obama has declared his 'Memorandum on Scientific Integrity’ yet blatant bad science is openly promoted. I know I’m not alone in being skeptical about his memo as hype and spin.
    We are slowly allowing the reigns of our democracy to pass to totalitarianism. "We the People” are saying ‘NO’ as is particularly evident in this blog and in others and respected opinion polls.
    Also to mannysummits: You reference Monbiot in the Guardian. Make sure to read Christopher Booker in the Daily Telegraph. Personally I find it helps to keep a balance.

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  • 24. At 05:56am on 28 Mar 2009, Bicycle-Fan wrote:


    bad science is openly promoted

    You can not assume the science is bad, just because its conclusions do not match your beliefs.

    I have heard intelligent people argue both sides of this story almost long enough to understand it. If you think you understand something, you do not know what you are talking about.

    I am as completely unbiased as a person can be. The real totalitarians and pushers of bad science are the climate skeptics. It seems to me, that there is more evidence that we are warming the planet, than of a coming ice age.

    How can anyone argue against improved rail service?

    Solar-Electrifying and connecting the Worlds rail systems would create enough work, economic stimulus and lasting value, to end the financial crisis.

    Improving rail service enough to ban private motor vehicles would end the health-care crisis.

    Providing rail service to most parts of the World would end famine.

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  • 25. At 07:30am on 28 Mar 2009, pmbbiggsy wrote:

    manysummits - if you have to quote Communist George Monbiot, then you really are scraping the barrel. What expertise does he have? He has a political agenda, that's all.

    The IPCC process isn't objective and, for example, it broke its own rules in order to cite the Wahl and Ammann paper, a paper that will shortly be the subject of a reply from McIntyre and McKitrick. The Wahl and Ammann saga is an interesting story in itself.

    Meanwhile, here is a selection of papers from the peer reviewed literature that don't get mainstream publicity, which when taken together suggest 'how much carbon?' may be irrelevant or insignificant to 'climate change' (was 'global warming'):

    GRL - Scafetta and Willson (2009): ‘ACRIM-gap and TSI trend issue resolved using a surface magnetic flux TSI proxy model’

    The authors state in their conclusions that:

    “This finding has evident repercussions for climate change and solar physics. Increasing TSI between 1980 and 2000 could have contributed significantly to global warming during the last three decades [Scafetta and West, 2007, 2008]. Current climate models [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007] have assumed that the TSI did not vary significantly during the last 30 years and have therefore underestimated the solar contribution and overestimated the anthropogenic contribution to global warming.”

    GRL - Kyle Swanson and Anastasios Tsonis (2009): ‘Has the climate recently shifted?’

    The Abstract states:

    This paper provides an update to an earlier work that showed specific changes in the aggregate time evolution of major Northern Hemispheric atmospheric and oceanic modes of variability serve as a harbinger of climate shifts. Specifically, when the major modes of Northern Hemisphere climate variability are synchronized, or resonate, and the coupling between those modes simultaneously increases, the climate system appears to be thrown into a new state, marked by a break in the global mean temperature trend and in the character of El Ni˜no/Southern Oscillation variability. Here, a new and improved means to quantify the coupling between climate modes confirms that another synchronization of these modes, followed by an increase in coupling occurred in 2001/02. This suggests that a break in the global mean temperature trend from the consistent warming over the 1976/77–2001/02 period may have occurred.

    From the conclusions: ....the future evolution of the global mean temperature may hold surprises on both the warm and cold ends of the spectrum due entirely to internal variability that lie well outside the envelope of a steadily increasing global mean temperature.

    Wang, Swanson and Tsonis (2009) - GRL: ‘The pacemaker of major climate shifts.’

    Abstract: Models and data suggest that the interplay of major climate modes may result in climate shifts [Tsonis et al., 2007]. More specifically it has been shown that when the network of North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and North Pacific Index (NPI) synchronizes, an increase in the coupling between these oscillations destroys the synchronous state and leads the climate system to a new state. These shifts are associated with significant changes in global temperature trend and in ENSO variability. Here we probe the details of this network’s dynamics to investigate if a certain oscillation is the culprit in these shifts. From a total of 12 synchronization events observed in three climate simulations and in observations we find that the instigator of these shifts is NAO. Without exception only when NAO’s coupling with the Pacific increases a shift will occur. Our results suggest a dynamical sequence of events in the evolution of climate shifts which is consistent with recent independent empirical and modeling studies.

    Tsonis, Swanson, Kravtov (2007) - GRL: 'A new dynamical mechanism for major climate shifts'

    In the mid-1970s, a climate shift cooled sea surface temperatures in the central Pacific Ocean and warmed the coast of western North America, bringing long-range changes to the northern hemisphere. After this climate shift waned, an era of frequent El Ninos and rising global temperatures began.

    Tsonis et al. have investigated the collective behavior of known climate cycles such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the North Atlantic Oscillation, the El Nino/Southern Oscillation, and the North Pacific Oscillation. By studying the last 100 years of these cycles' patterns, they find that the systems synchronized several times.

    Further, in cases where the synchronous state was followed by an increase in the coupling strength among the cycles, the synchronous state was destroyed. Then. a new climate state emerged, associated with global temperature changes and El Nino/Southern Oscillation variability.

    The authors show that this mechanism explains all global temperature tendency changes and El Nino variability in the 20th century.

    Major climate shifts have occurred or will occur around 1913, 1942, 1978, 2033, and 2072 according to the authors of this recent paper, who also predict a 0.2 Celsius cooling between 2005 and 2020 which should be followed by a 0.3 Celsius warming until 2045 or so - then cooling for the rest of the 21st century.

    Nir Shaviv (2008) - Journal of Geophysical Research: ‘Using the oceans as a calorimeter to quantify the solar radiative forcing.’

    The Abstract states:

    Over the 11-year solar cycle, small changes in the total solar irradiance (TSI) give rise to small variations in the global energy budget. It was suggested, however, that different mechanisms could amplify solar activity variations to give large climatic effects, a possibility which is still a subject of debate. With this in mind, we use the oceans as a calorimeter to measure the radiative forcing variations associated with the solar cycle. This is achieved through the study of three independent records, the net heat flux into the oceans over 5 decades, the sea-level change rate based on tide gauge records over the 20th century, and the sea-surface temperature variations. Each of the records can be used to consistently derive the same oceanic heat flux. We find that the total radiative forcing associated with solar cycles variations is about 5 to 7 times larger than just those associated with the TSI variations, thus implying the necessary existence of an amplification mechanism, although without pointing to which one.

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  • 26. At 07:47am on 28 Mar 2009, simon-swede wrote:

    So much vitrol, so much not interesting.

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  • 27. At 08:28am on 28 Mar 2009, rossglory wrote:

    It's a shame that such a good article still attracts all the usual 'sceptic' tirades. Still, since we can almost certainly accept the obvious these are my thoughts.

    You're right that the main issues are political and I agree that there is no straightforward way to achieve an equitable 2 tonnes/person. However I'm sure that if you'd listed all the issues in 1961, Armstrong would never have made it to the moon. So focussing on difficulties will often get you into analysis paralysis (to use a dreadful IT term).

    That said, 2t/person does not provide any incentive to restrain your population growth so is not as fair as it may seem. I also tend to think that being a victim of your history is not particularly fair (especially as 2% of the population benefitted from the vast majority of the benfits from the industrial revolution).

    You're obviously a pragmatist but that will only get us so far. What is needed is a really great leader with a fairly straightforward and easily understood objective. Maybe the world has that leader now (and I don't mean Flash Gordo) but the big idea is still not clear. However, what is clear is that the concept of capitalism will have to be turned on its head. The more you produce the MORE expensive it should be (a bit like Cuba with its electricity tarifs) and there are too many vested interests for that to happen any time soon.

    So in reality I just live in hope. I have cut back quite considerably on my CO2 emissions but am still nowhere near 2t, which is virtually impossible in western culture as it stands. The reason I do these things is not to save the planet from dangerous climate change (I'm very pessimistic about that being possible having studied Environmental Science with the OU for 6 years - the course needs a mental health warning, not for depressives!!) but because I want to be able to say to my children/grandchildren that I tried.

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  • 28. At 08:35am on 28 Mar 2009, rossglory wrote:

    @wfmgeo,pmbbiggsy,cockatoo etc - i think it's a bit pointless trying to turn every article into a debate about climate change. sometimes i struggle to find comments relevant to the point made in the article.

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  • 29. At 09:43am on 28 Mar 2009, CuckooToo wrote:


    The debate is about climate change:

    "Put another way: if emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases are to be limited, at some target date, to a figure that science suggests can stave off "dangerous" climate change, "

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  • 30. At 09:49am on 28 Mar 2009, CuckooToo wrote:


    "How did you get, done deal out of struggling to see, - a political path that leads to its adoption ?"

    Perhaps I am misreading, but the debate is not over and yet the politicians want to impose curbing our freedoms by controlling where and when we are allowed to emit "dangerous" CO2 - "if emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases are to be limited, at some target date, to a figure that science suggests can stave off "dangerous" climate change," - sounds like a done deal to me, even though the science most definitely is not settled.

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  • 31. At 09:58am on 28 Mar 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To pmbbiggsy #25:

    A good mind is a good mind. (re: George Monbiot)

    To timjenvey #23, and to all:

    It cannot have escaped our attention that George Bush served two complete terms in the White House. He was evaluated after four years in office, and roughly speaking, half of the voting public in the United States voted for him, and half against.

    President Obama was elected recently, amidst a world financial crisis, and extensive job losses and family home foreclosures in the United States. I think the percentages have not changed all that much. The voting public is still roughly half conservative and half liberal. It's just that now a lot more people are scared in their wallets, for me a sad comment on human nature.

    As for what you call a balanced view, well, of course balance is a good thing, but isn't the purpose of 'balance' to stay upright - to not fall off? In words more pertinent to this discussion - to 'get it right'.

    And what is right about carbon footprints, which necessarily involves resolving the 'debate' on climate change, fossil fuels, Anthropogenic Global Warming, and the long list of environmental insults which we have visited upon the Earth, to say nothing of the disparities in the standard of living in the wide world.

    Democracy, doesn't that entail thinking for yourself?

    Isn't Robert Pirsig on to something when he quotes from the Greeks:

    "And what is right Phaedrus, and what is not right?
    Need we ask anyone to tell us these things?"

    In post #26, simon-swede notes:

    "So much vitrol, so much not interesting."

    Yes indeed! It is so very tiring for me to hear again and again the strident and logically challenged 'voice of the skeptics', and here I refer not to true seekers after truth, but to the 'vitriolic' dissenters, who seek only to confuse and obfuscate. This is to my mind a type of criminal activity, with real and lasting repercussions felt around the world. There must be some way to bring these people to account for their assertions, to make them truly responsible for their actions, or lack of action.

    For those of us who believe that climate change is human induced, that fossil fuels are the primary cause, and who wish to regain a 'balance' with the natural world, the situation remains the same. As Abraham Lincoln once pointed out:

    "Public sentiment is everything. With it, nothing can fail; against it, nothing can succeed.

    Whoever moulds public sentiment, goes deeper than he who enacts statutes, or pronounces judicial decisions. He makes possible the enforcement of these, else impossible."

    I climbed mountains for seven years because there the air is clean, you do get to think for yourself, and to win consistently. But always you must turn your face from the sky, and return to the world below. So be it.

    - Manysummits, Calgary -

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  • 32. At 10:19am on 28 Mar 2009, CuckooToo wrote:

    @VeliAlbertKallio #17

    Who actually pays for this?

    During the last recession, I accepted a job on the east side of the Pennines, although I lived on the west side. Driving to work took me 1.5 hours each way, which I did in my time. It wasn't ideal, but public transport took me 2.5 hours each way. During winter I had to use Public transport. Are you suggesting that i should be paid for 8 hours per day working and 5 hours i.e 13 hours per day?

    Great for me, but surely my employers costs would go up or taxes would have to rise significantly to pay for this scheme?

    Planning requires an environmental impact to be carried out on all new large construction projects and includes impact on transport, parking and use of public transport.

    Last thing, Veil, please don't intervien in the climate on my behalf, i really don't want seeding of the oceans or other experiments to upset the climate - that really would be man made climate change

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  • 33. At 10:38am on 28 Mar 2009, CuckooToo wrote:

    @manysummits #31

    "This is to my mind a type of criminal activity, with real and lasting repercussions felt around the world. There must be some way to bring these people to account for their assertions, to make them truly responsible for their actions, or lack of action."

    This seems to suggest that you agree with Nuremburg style trials for people who disagree with your view. What exctly do you mean by "truely responsible"? In the UK, we already have activists slashing the tyres of 4x4's and carrying out other illegal activities. Are you suggesting that we should go down the slippery route that "deniers" should be treated like criminals and informers should be rewarded?

    Whatever happened to 'I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,' (attributed to Voltaire)?

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  • 34. At 10:42am on 28 Mar 2009, PAWB46 wrote:

    bringiton8989 #20:

    So you think that since birth, no animal has the right to emit a naturally occurring trace gas into the atmosphere; a gas that is necessary for all plant life. A gas that has not been proven to affect the climate in any significant way. I suppose you would have us all living in caves eating fruit and nuts and not lighting fires to keep warm. Show me what I describe as "convincing proof" that a doubling of CO2 would have any meaningful impact on the climate. A 95/95 confidence level would be OK. Don't show me the opinions of paid politicos working for the IPCC. Don't show me the projections of computer models. Show me the physics of how a doubling of CO2 will affect the climate.

    And don't throw in red herrings such as smoking. I never smoked so I never inflicted carcinogens and other nasties on others.

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  • 35. At 12:25pm on 28 Mar 2009, rossglory wrote:

    @cockatoo - seriously, the only place the debate is 'about' climate change is on these comment boards, not in the scientific or political world (if you ignore klaus...which i think most people do). there the debate, woefully late imo, has shifted to what to 'do' about climate change.

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  • 36. At 1:01pm on 28 Mar 2009, CuckooToo wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 37. At 3:23pm on 28 Mar 2009, manysummits wrote:

    Re post #33 (Nuremburg-like trials)

    From Wikipedia:

    "International courts are formed by treaties between nations, or under the authority of an international organization such as the United Nations — this includes ad hoc tribunals and permanent institutions, but excludes any courts arising purely under national authority.

    Early examples of international courts include the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals established in the aftermath of World War II. Three such courts are presently located at The Hague in the Netherlands: The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the International Court of Justice (ICJ), and the International Criminal Court (ICC). Further international courts exist elsewhere, usually with their jurisdiction restricted to a particular country or issue, such as the one dealing with the genocide in Rwanda."

    - Manysummits -

    We are still in Iraq. From what I can see, we were led there under false pretence. This is construed by some as as a criminal breach of the trust placed in a world leader, and the International Court of Justice would find it within their province to look at this in detail, and produce a finding, as has recently been done for the leader of Sudan.

    I am glad there is such a court, even though it currently lacks the power to call to justice those who have abused their privilege, incited hatred, and engaged in criminal acts of mass destruction.

    We will continue to 'discuus' the topics which Richard Black brings up on this blogsite, in a free and democratic manner, with room for all views.

    But this does not give any person the right to intentionally mislead and disinform on an issue of such vital importance to the world as climate change. That is at least dishonest, and at worst criminal. Practically speaking, it is doubtful any case brought against any blogger on this site would be taken seriously, but that does not mean that the visitors to this site cannot make up their own minds as to the merit, or lack thereof, of the views expressed here.

    And I hold to my view, that intentionally misleading the public on a vital topic is a criminal activity.

    - Manysummits, Calgary -

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  • 38. At 4:32pm on 28 Mar 2009, Beejay wrote:

    "And I hold to my view, that intentionally misleading the public on a vital topic is a criminal activity."

    - Manysummits, Calgary -

    How would you explain the behaviour of James Hansen and Al Gore then?

    They should be locked up.

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  • 39. At 4:40pm on 28 Mar 2009, bsacr2005 wrote:

    It is incorrect to suggest that there is no serious scientific debate about anthropogenic greenhouse gas impacts leading to climate change.

    Here is a reference to peer reviewed article that appeared in a physics journal recently:

    Gerhard Gerlich, Ralf D. Tscheuschner
    "Falsification Of The Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within The Frame Of Physics"

    The BBC (online, offline, TV, radio, and in every other sense) should be bound by its own Trust's "Wagon Wheel" report, that demanded that "discussion in the round" be adhered to (particularly) on contentious issues such as this, where there are no straightforward pro and anti stances, but rather a range of views, legitimately held (even if not all can be backed up rigorously).

    It is not the BBC's job (whatever they may have "agreed" at a "senior management level" with the (in-the-pocket-of-the-woefully-inadequate-IPCC) Royal Society behind closed editorial doors) to "preach" on any subject, least of all the pseudo-morality of the Green fraternity on their notion of "climate change".

    Humans do impact climates, but exactly how is something which is part of an ongoing scientific dialogue.

    The BBC could turn over a new leaf, and win back vast amounts of credibility, if it would just come clean and acknowledge that this is the actual state of play and the IPCC version of reality is just that: a narrow perspective that is challenged scientifically somewhere in every continent in the world.

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  • 40. At 5:34pm on 28 Mar 2009, CuckooToo wrote:

    apologies, i forgot i wasn't allowed to post in french


    I disagree, the gathering of over 700 scientists in New York and the work of many scientists who disagree with the MMGW theory, clearly shows the debate isn't confined to the forums. Perhaps, if the media reported the dissenting voices you would be aware of this.

    The Gods will fool mankind, making out
    That they are the authors of a great warOnce,
    the sky was free of hardware
    But now, on the left, there will be great damage.

    Nostradus Quantrain 1/91

    Incidentally, Nostradamus, also predicts a great famine around 2020 1/67

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  • 41. At 6:31pm on 28 Mar 2009, CuckooToo wrote:

    @manysummits #37

    intentionally misleading the public on a vital topic is a criminal activity

    Agreed - it's called fraud

    Do we include refusing to allow others to check data which is used to influence policy?

    Do we include creating scary scenarios as Schneider has suggested and most alarmists seem to adhere to?

    De include the IPCC accepting unpublished work, which is against their own rules?

    Each of the above is intentionally misleading and so constitutes fraud.

    Pehaps the beeb would like to pursue this?

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  • 42. At 9:21pm on 28 Mar 2009, Bryn wrote:

    I suffer my usual mixture of laughter and tears at the posts here.
    To reiterate a point from an earlier post - and especially for ToughNeilHyde #18 - if there is a detectable bias in Richards (and the BBCs) reporting it is in his generosity towards those who scratch their sceptical itches here. I will go with Nature above Nostradamus guys.
    #39 BSACR. Others have responded effectively to the surprising publication of Gerlich and Tscheuschner, 2009, Int.J.Mod.Phys.B23:275-364. Surprising since it has aroused such a gale of laugther. My guess is that the editors have ringing in their ears from the responses on Arxiv so I hardly need to add to them here - but other readers might like to read their article and then follow up the responses to see what other physicists posting there thought of it. My favourite is the comment from Boris on "This gets publishing and my neo-feminist deconstruction of The Smurfs ("Blue Balls: Animated Phallocracy and the Rise of Diminutive Sexualization in Pre-Viagra America") gets multiple rejections?!? Unfair!". Unfairness - dear AGW sceptics - is all in the mind.
    Cuckootoo #41 - I disagree fundamentally with your sceptical view, and I think you misguided, but you have been consistently thoughtful. So your recent shrillness is unpersuasive. Mind you, I'm not surprised that you reference Nostradamus. Could you tell us whether Old Moore, Mystic Meg and indeed Wisden concur with the predicted famine hypothesis?

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  • 43. At 9:36pm on 28 Mar 2009, randydutton wrote:

    QUESTIONS: What is the ecopolitical target for CO2? Is it to stabilize CO2 at the current 385ppm, drop it to pre-industrial 250ppm, or cause it to go lower?

    Are proponents of lowering CO2 rates willing to accept the resulting decrease in global food supply? Are you prepared for the global starvation a lowered production rate would cause?

    Are you willing to see a reduction in nearly all Earth's plant growth rates?

    And are you willing to see Earth's plant life eventually die off completely because of CO2 depletion?

    What most scientists and journalists don't tell you is CO2 is a finite resource absolutely critical to living plants. Earth is in its 3rd atmosphere and over the past 540 million years CO2 has been dropping from 7000ppm to about 250ppm 250 years ago and back up to 385ppm today. The nearly linear drop over the past 540 million years would have taken us to the point where most plants on Earth suffocate to death (150ppm) in about 10 million years had man not started to pump more CO2 into the atmosphere. With the CO2 increase agriculture and Earth's flora has had a 30+% production increase because more CO2 means more growth. Eventually, nature will succeed in re-sequestering all the carbon we took out of the ground. Eventually, the 3rd atmosphere will end and Earth will have minimal CO2 to sustain plants (and man). Some journalist eventually start making this issue known.

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  • 44. At 10:01pm on 28 Mar 2009, Neil Hyde wrote:

    @31 first , and then I shall go on .
    Yes indeed! It is so very tiring for me to hear again and again the strident and logically challenged 'voice of the skeptics', and here I refer not to true seekers after truth, but to the 'vitriolic' dissenters, who seek only to confuse and obfuscate. This is to my mind a type of criminal activity, with real and lasting repercussions felt around the world. There must be some way to bring these people to account for their assertions, to make them truly responsible for their actions, or lack of action.

    Please give me definitive proof that MMGW exists other than in computer models .I base my opinions on evidence , not computer models which are based on GIGO a la Hansen.

    I suffer my usual mixture of laughter and tears at the posts here.
    To reiterate a point from an earlier post - and especially for ToughNeilHyde #18 - if there is a detectable bias in Richards (and the BBCs) reporting it is in his generosity towards those who scratch their sceptical itches here. I will go with Nature above Nostradamus guys.

    For Nostradamus read computer models.

    Richard does try to be impartial , within the constraints imposed upon him by his employers , however, he has no editorial control on the website .

    Lets look at the poor misguided fools who are currntly stuck on the Arctic ice . They have gone with preconceived ideas about showing how the Arctic ice is melting . Sorry, to prove that, they will have to go back for several years to collect the data . Sadly, they will be lucky to survive this first trip , due to poor preparation and incorrect equipment . But the BBC just presents this as a heroic struggle against the elements , trying to fight climate change .

    Today the BBC has been mainlining on the London protests. 35,000 people protesting aginst , bankers , loss of jobs, poverty and climate change . How many people protested against the hunting ban ? Manny, many more !!!

    There is an institutional bias within the BBC , it is not a matter of me agreeing one way or the other , but the impartiallity the organisation was once famed for has long since gone .

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  • 45. At 10:18pm on 28 Mar 2009, Neil Hyde wrote:

    Some comments from people experienced in that environment which the Caitlin martyrs are trying to exploit.

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  • 46. At 00:52am on 29 Mar 2009, scientificEarthling wrote:

    Planet earth has sustained life for millions of years, there have been a few blips (we document five extinction). Since the last extinction life has thrived in a fertile self sustaining ecology. Evolutionary pressures have been at work since life began. The strong and intelligent are favoured. Man is a favoured life form.

    As we developed we increased our numbers, this increase was balanced by a decline in the populations of other species. You can only do this to a limited extent, as each species neutralises the impact of the other species and we have balance.

    All our food is produced from solar energy, mainly by photosynthesis. We have reduced the plant cover on our planet by 25%. Result 25% less basic food. Industrial farming supplement part of this loss. Plants also moderate temperature. Less plants more extreme temperature.

    CO2 is not a cause it is a result of an unsustainable population and loss of biodiversity. Short medium and long term Carbon cycles have existed on our planet for billions of years. Man is increasing the amount of CO2 in the short term carbon cycle. I am referring to burning coal and oil, reducing forest cover and industrial agriculture.

    The only way man can survive the ongoing sixth extinction is by restoring biodiversity, forest cover and changing to sustainable farming practices. Our planet will heal, with or without us.

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  • 47. At 02:17am on 29 Mar 2009, BritinAussie wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 48. At 02:42am on 29 Mar 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To toughNeilHyde #44:

    For 'result and fact' evidence, please see posts #'s 104 and
    especially 106 on 'climate tidy' blogsite.

    In addition to the information in the posts mentioned above, virtually all of the world's mountain glaciers are melting, and will soon vanish or be reduced to insignificance, if the planet continues to warm. This is documented fact.

    Your evidence is at hand, it remains only to determine to your satisfaction that the primary cause is the burning of fossil fuels, and the forcing by the carbon dioxide thus released.

    This appears to be primarily a problem of psychology, as I see it.

    - Manysummits, Calgary -

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  • 49. At 03:22am on 29 Mar 2009, TJ wrote:

    simon-swede #26:
    I always read your comments. I find them respectful, knowledgeable and level. You use the term "So much vitriol" to describe the comments on this article thus far.
    I would agree that there are differences of opinion sometimes strongly expressed, but these are what I consider to be tame when compared to the majority of blogs that cover the subject.
    However, I do agree with your sentiment (albeit on the opposite side). What I find an interesting challenge is to understand why this is the case. I would be very interested to know your views if you feel inclined to share them.

    Bicycle-Fan #24:
    You say "You cannot assume the science is bad, just because its conclusions do not match your beliefs"
    I was not referring to my beliefs. The examples are many fold and blatant e.g.
    The widely promoted Hockey Stick by the establishment which was discredit and debunked by some tenacious deniers in the face of establishment push back.
    The same team that produce the Hockey stick are still in business and just put out another well promoted finding about Antarctic warming which has been equally debunked (not that we would know from the establishment).
    Al Gore’s "Incontinent Truth" had around 10 pieces of bad science that a UK judge order had to be pronounced upon before any public showing to kids in schools.
    A prominent NASA scientist turned political activist whom his bosses say is an “embarrassment to NASA” is promoted by the establishment and maintained in his position on our taxes.
    Etc. etc. Just looking over previous comments I do not feel a need to make any clearer case on this subject. Can you not understand why decent ordinary folk, who are not deep scientist, get skeptical and raise their voices in mistrust when they are patronized and not listened to on such blatant examples?

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  • 50. At 03:46am on 29 Mar 2009, TJ wrote:

    Just read the BBC Headlines. Had to share a comment on this:
    “Obama plans climate change summit”:
    It contained a sentence that struck me as amusing:
    "It was announced (the Obama plans) as millions worldwide observed Earth Hour, turning off lights in a protest against climate change"
    I rolled the clock back in my mind a few thousand years and had this picture of ancient man making penances to placate the weather Gods. Wonder how long before they start on human sacrifices. Watch out deniers:)

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  • 51. At 08:20am on 29 Mar 2009, Bicycle-Fan wrote:

    Driving a private motor vehicle, requires a tolerance of human sacrifice. One million people die in crashes every year. Even more die as a direct result of their emissions.

    The financial and human costs of the automobile are so great, we should not need to factor in global warming, to abolish them.

    Yet people are so blinded by their lust for cars, that they will believe any claptrap if it supports the view that they can keep burning, and deny any evidence to the contrary, no matter how logical. They will happily point out where evidence of warming has been debunked, but refuse to acknowledge evidence that refutes the debunking.

    Are they so busy spending a quarter of their pay, to sit in grid-lock for a quarter of the day, that they are unable to imagine the possibility of a better way?

    If people are so blinded by their lust for automobiles, that they will refuse to see the truth, out of fear that their precious ride will be taken away, then A, we need to do a better job of explaining the science, and B, we need to make people understand that if the most efficient mode or transport was fully deployed, everyone would be better off.


    There is bad science on both sides of this argument. If you can only see it on one side, you are letting your beliefs cloud your judgment.

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  • 52. At 09:29am on 29 Mar 2009, CuckooToo wrote:

    @Bryn_hill #42

    The reference to Nostradamus was merely to the Quantrain, which was apt in his description of the gods fooling men. For gods I read nature, although I notice Timjenvey reads computers which is interesting.

    @ manysummits #48

    List of expanding glaciers:

    @Bicycle-Fan #51
    There is bad science on both sides of this argument. If you can only see it on one side, you are letting your beliefs cloud your judgment.

    Agreed, and I try to read all links posted here, although sometimes I don't think this is the case with everybody coming to this blog

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  • 53. At 09:51am on 29 Mar 2009, simon-swede wrote:

    The question Richard posed was, given a ceiling of about two tonnes CO2-equivalent per person per year, politically, how can it be turned into reality?

    I am sorry but I do not have an easy answer! But here are some thoughts.

    First, a declaration of interest. I do consider that human beings are impacting upon the climate, and that action is needed to address this. I know that this view is shared by some and disagreed strongly by others. Some people may agree with me for reasons that are similar to my own, others may agree for very different reasons. Those who disagree with me may do so for many and varied reasons.

    Secondly, an admission. I am not an expert on climate science. While I have been involved with climate change and energy policy debates for more than two decades, I stress that I my focus has been and remains the policy issues. I have an overview of scientific developments related to climate change that I believe is sufficient to enable my participation in the policy debates, but I know I am no expert.

    Thirdly, a caveat. These are my thoughts and opinions. I do consider them to be somewhat grounded in my understanding of the debate, but these are just my views. I do not claim them to be right, although I would be happy if they were not completely wrong. I am not trying to be comprehensive or make any claim to having the definitive worldview. I am just trying to share some ideas.

    So, to my thoughts.

    My impression is that there is now a much more general awareness and concern about climate change than was the case even five years ago (let alone 20), and that there is a significant momentum building for actions to try address the issues. The latter build up of momentum has been THE major shift in my opinion. Earlier, arguments that the science was too uncertain, the risks too vague, the costs too high and anyway unnecessary and so on ad infinitum, dominated the debate and severely limited the range for possible action. The change of administration and the new attitude in the US reflects this change, rather than drives it, although it may be that this becomes a mutually supporting dynamic. The same could be said of Australia. As a result too, it has become easier to start to engage with China and India and other industrialising nations that were able to more easily stand by while the US and its supporters prevaricated.

    The sorts of actions needed to realise a figure anywhere close to the two tonnes CO2 equivalent would be far-reaching. The changes also will not result out of the majority of people around the planet simply waking up one morning and instantly switching over to carbon friendly lifestyles. Even if they wanted to - and as many correspondents here have shown, many do not want to do so - the circumstances are not there yet to enable such changes to be made overnight. That means implementation over time, in an incremental fashion, as technologies, infrastructures, economies and public and political will and enthusiasm allow. Mostly, I would expect a muddled sort of development over time and there will probably be some things that are attempted which will fail, and others that will be successes completely beyond expectations. To realise this will require actions at multiple levels, the individual, the community, the corporation, the society, the region, the world… and with appropriate governance mechanisms at these diverse levels to create an enabling framework for them. Some efforts are underway, but they are not far-reaching enough, they are too often fragmented, and taken together they do not constitute a coherent and consequent response.

    To my mind, the single biggest step that could move the process onwards now would be to build a new inclusive framework for action at a global level. Those preparing for Copenhagen have this in mind. However the realities of the timing and the considerable outstanding issues make me wonder how much can realistically be expected of the Copenhagen summit. Perhaps it might be better to see Copenhagen as the starting point of a longer process. Agreeing a general framework on what needs to be tackled and a firm timetable to build the specific detailed agreements to make firm commitments and concrete actions possible.

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  • 54. At 10:00am on 29 Mar 2009, Bryn wrote:

    On allowable personal carbon emissions I share Richards pessimism - I feel the gap between where we are and where we need to be may be politically insurmountable, leaving aside the vast practical difficulties. But I do also feel that the urgency of the need makes it worth pursuing and, given that urgency, negociated solutions must centre on existing intitutions, especially the UN working in concert with regional institutions (ASEAN, EU ...). Perhaps our only good fixes are technical ones (to replace fossil fuels and to directly intervene in warming - sunshield in space and that sort of thing) but these do seem like a big gamble. When I'm feeling down I just remind myself how many watts of sunlight fall on Chad (for example) every day. At least there is plenty of energy out there for us to catch as it falls.

    As others have commented, curbing the increase in population looks vital to make any sense of a figure like 2T/person/yr so lets put political and financial capital into backing developing nations struggling to get a grip on population control. But calculating emission allowances is going to be a constant process of renegociation since our estimate of the proportional contribution of individuals may change quite rapidly as we get a better quantified picture of the GHG sources and sinks - and the uncertainties over the effects of peat decay in the north of Russia and Canada, for example, are obviously very large. Do we count these as Russian and Canadian (which is pretty tough on Russia and Canada) or as part of the world GHG background to be negociated internationally? I think that we simply lack political fora with the authority needed to adjudicate such negociations and impose their outcomes. So our first job is to fix and then devolve authority to such fora. Over to you Obama. Not too busy are you?

    Perhaps the best we can do is set intermediate targets for each country between where we are and where we need to be and support a very active process of renegociation based on frequent review.

    To add to the final comment by Bicycle_Fan #51 I do get a good laugh from the certainties of our sceptical friends. There are, indeed, vast uncertainties in our picture of the forces driving climate change, the role of man and the potential for mitigation. Being certain that is isn't hapening, it isn't our fault or it doesn't matter anyway simply doesn't acknowledge that uncertainty.

    #44 I do write numerical models of my own (in my own field, which is not climate science) and, having tested them against reality, find them reliable and immensly helpful. Nobody builds anything (like an atom bomb or a car) or analyses any complex environmental data (like the flow of water through soil or the distribution of oil under a leaking tank) without numerical models these days - like statistics, it's just part of the furniture. Of course all models suffer from garbage-in-garbage-out but they have the great strength of helping us identify just what is garbage data and what, by contrast, we can build on. In fact, one of their greatest strengths is that they leave less room for wooly science because they sharpen our understanding of our data. And that goes for climate models too.

    #43 yes Randy, CO2 is rather important - we need enough but not too much. And, in time, adaptation can change just what "enough" and "too much" could be. The problem is that we may not have time to adapt.

    Well that's enlivened my morning. Have a good day fellas.

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  • 55. At 10:09am on 29 Mar 2009, Bryn wrote:

    #52 I'm delighted (and a little envious) that you can read nature and thus gain some insight into the Gods. It sounds more Keats than Stern but perhaps none the worse for that. "Shall I compare thee to a summers day? Thou art more lovely, though only marginally more temperate, give global warming ...". Sorry, wrong poet.

    I can only read Nature though, goodness, the ubiquitous molecular biology it's full of these days makes my head spin.

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  • 56. At 10:26am on 29 Mar 2009, CuckooToo wrote:

    @simon-sweded #53

    I don't have a problem with what you are saying, I just think we need to wait until the science really is in before making fundamental changes, which would affect the entire world.

    I think it will be interesting to read the UN's latest climate change plan, referred to in Richards piece, which would shift $trillions to form a new world economy

    "envisions a huge reordering of the world economy, likely involving trillions of dollars in wealth transfer, millions of job losses and gains, new taxes, industrial relocations, new tariffs and subsidies, and complicated payments for greenhouse gas abatement schemes and carbon taxes ",2933,510937,00.html

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  • 57. At 10:38am on 29 Mar 2009, CuckooToo wrote:

    @Bryn_Hill #54

    I do write numerical models of my own (in my own field, which is not climate science) and, having tested them against reality, find them reliable and immensly helpful.

    Interesting, so how would you model something as chaotic as the atmosphere with so many unknowns and unproven parameters?

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  • 58. At 12:28pm on 29 Mar 2009, rossglory wrote:

    @57 cockatoo - I think you're confusing the mathemtical definition of chaos in stochastic systems and it's colloquial usage.

    Of course the atmosphere is not chaotic (colloquially) over measures of time and space that we experience and is pretty well bounded. Over longer time periods (decades, centuries) it can be modelled very successfully. Conflating climate and weather is a nice trick (I reckon you really know they cannot be treated in the same way!) for bashing climate models.

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  • 59. At 12:36pm on 29 Mar 2009, rossglory wrote:

    @56 - cuckutoo

    'I don't have a problem with what you are saying, I just think we need to wait until the science really is in before making fundamental changes, which would affect the entire world.'

    I think you'll find we're already doing that and the results aren't encouraging. My view is we should be trying to 'affect' the natural world a bit less before it really bites back.

    Of course CO2 emissions are just one factor, even if we could get levels back to pre-industrial levels, if we carry on destroying natural systems that support life and/or damaging their effectiveness with pollutants then we're still in big trouble.

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  • 60. At 12:55pm on 29 Mar 2009, pmbbiggsy wrote:

    Okay,turning away from climate science and getting back to the thread, not so much a question of 'how much carbon,' but a question of when will we have genuine, viable alternatives to fuels that emit CO2? We certainly aren't going to stop heating/lighting our homes, travelling etc.

    I suggest our efforts are focused in a direction that both climate realists and alarmists can agree on - developing new fuels/technology rather than futile attempts to control the weather/climate with unilateral policies.

    Any carbon tax should be related to the 'fingerprint' of greenhouse warming i.e. the Tropical Troposphere Temperature - that should call everyone's bluff.

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  • 61. At 12:57pm on 29 Mar 2009, rossglory wrote:

    @40 cuckutoo - yeah i read about that conference, was quite amusing. Actually they were mostly not scientists and only a smattering that are currently working in the field of climate science. It was financed by the Heartland institute whose funding comes mostly from energy companies and lobby groups (especially the Scaife foundation - easy to see where its political allegiance lies).

    So I wouldn;t really call it a scientific convention more a politically motivated convention to provide some headlines for the media and maintain the status quo. In fact one of the few scientists with relevant credentials discribed it more as 'psychological therapy', odd way to describe a scientific gathering!

    As I say, the 'is it really happening' debate is just on comment boards. What is really worth debating is how we get our emissions down to 2t/person, the subject of Richard's article.

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  • 62. At 12:59pm on 29 Mar 2009, Bryn wrote:

    #57 there may never be a time when the science is "in" or "out" - thus the question is, given our emerging understanding of climate, our impact upon it and the consequences of inaction, at what shade of grey do you say we need to act? You may not feel we need to get out of the road but it's my kids are going to get run over.

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  • 63. At 1:09pm on 29 Mar 2009, manysummits wrote:

    I am enjoying the increasing participation on this topic, and the quality of comment, from both sides.

    We seem to be getting somewhere now.

    I'm off to climb a small mountain today - and its snowing!

    - Manysummits, Calgary -

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  • 64. At 1:38pm on 29 Mar 2009, CuckooToo wrote:

    @rossglory #58

    nobody mentioned weather, although I note the failure to mention how the unknowns are modelled - even the IPCC recognises the models are not up to the job

    @rossglory #59

    My view is we should be trying to 'affect' the natural world a bit less

    mine too, i just happen not to accept that CO2 is responsible for the rise in recorded temperatures towards the end of the 20th century, based on the current evidence.

    @pmbbiggsy #60

    I suggest our efforts are focused in a direction that both climate realists and alarmists can agree on - developing new fuels/technology rather than futile attempts to control the weather/climate with unilateral policies.

    Absolutely, although I would add developing existing sources of reliable energy such as nuclear, until other reliable sources are perfected

    @rossglory #60

    Actually they were mostly not scientists and only a smattering that are currently working in the field of climate science

    As opposed to the 500, who actually contributed to the IPCC report according to Schnieder, a MMGW alarmist and lead author?

    It was financed by the Heartland institute whose funding comes mostly from energy companies and lobby groups

    As opposed to the IPCC and Copenhagen Conference, which is underwritten by Governments and Environmental groups, spending far more money than sceptics are able to spend? Attacks like this do nothing for the alarmist view.

    @Bryn_hill #62

    thus the question is, given our emerging understanding of climate, our impact upon it and the consequences of inaction, at what shade of grey do you say we need to act?

    I'm not sure invoking the Precautionary Principle is a good thing. We have a choice, do we spend $trillions on something that may happen, even though the science is not conclusive, or do we spend a few $billion on something that could really make a difference to the lives of millions across the globe? Do we sacrifice the future lives of billions for the sake of $5b per annum for the Precautionary Principle?

    I am of course talking about providing clean water and sanitation to the millions of people across the world who do not enjoy this luxury. This would save more lives annually than has ever been lost to climate change and likely will continue to do so.

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  • 65. At 1:42pm on 29 Mar 2009, CuckooToo wrote:

    Do any believers actually read the links to articles that refute CO2 induced global warming? I ask, because whenever I or others post links to these articles, it is rare that the believers comment on the article, which leads me to believe that the links don't get read.

    Would it be better to copy / paste the article?

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  • 66. At 1:56pm on 29 Mar 2009, manysummits wrote:

    Mountain trip just cancelled due to weather!

    A wise decision. It seldom pays to fight the weather or the conditions.

    Perhaps there is a lesson there for climate change too?

    To Bicycle-Fan #51:

    "if the most efficient mode or transport was fully deployed, everyone would be better off." (#51)

    I agree with the sentiments expressed in your several posts, including the one I have quoted above.

    It is still my belief that our politicians will act when we express to them, as a majority, that we are both willing and able to change ourselves.

    There are of course many things that can be done individually to reduce our carbon footprints, but how many of these are truly significant in terms of demonstrating to our leaders that real change is required?

    A suggestion from personal experience, and in keeping with Bicycle-Fan's obvious passion, is to simply park your car, or is it cars?

    They need not be sold or given away, not yet.

    Just park them, and try public transportation, and encourage it - make it better. With increasing ridership, first city, and then more far-flung transportation providers would increase their fleets, and maybe even use more carbon-friendly vehicles. A cascade of jobs would soon be created by this change of lifestyle, an economic 'amplifying feedback'.

    And our politicians would soon get the message.

    With a little imagination, you can see this as the beginning of an iterative process, a fractal beginning. Self-similar replication at many different levels might then ensue.

    But as Plato once remarked:

    "The beginning is the most important part of the work".

    When you really do think about it, this is a no-brainer, a win-win scenario. How about burying the hatchets, and getting on with what's important in this life, which is so short, so ephemeral.

    "Our problems are manmade - therefore, they can be solved by man...

    in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal".

    - John F. Kennedy, June 10, 1963.

    - Manysummits, Calgary -

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  • 67. At 2:00pm on 29 Mar 2009, bsacr2005 wrote:

    Sorry, maybe I've got it wrong - silly me believing that peer review might actually be some sort of guarantor. In some sense, of course, it never is: it is just a guide to the possibility that this piece of work is new, original and significant. Peer review is oversold out there in the real world.

    The thing is the G&T paper may well turn out to be full of misconceptions or misguided reasoning, just as I've no doubt that many a completely off-the-wall computer-model based pro AGW paper has managed to "pass muster" in the (let's be blunt) *potentially* woeful world of "peer review".

    [Of course it is well known that there are vast swathes of peer reviewed published work out there that the IPCC does not trouble itself to investigate with anything like an impartial eye (together - let's be fair - with some work that turned out to be falsified so it would be justified in putting that work to one side) because such work does not fit its agenda.]

    But the point is these "IPCC-ly incorrect" views *exist* and many many more of them should inform the public debate, that the picking apart of their crassnesses, together with the lauding of their insights, can inform us all, alongside a similar endeavour with respect to IPCC-kosher views as well.

    The BBC's line - via its dodgy deal with the Royal Society, which I note Jeremy Paxman has publically admitted that he felt both the relative lowliness of his place within the BBC hierarchy, whilst betraying a sort of askanceness/bewilderment that such editorial decisions might have been
    instituted (on the quiet...) - denies us the sort of free discussion that any truly impartial broadcaster ought to feel honour-bound to deliver upon. [And of course at the highest level, the BBC Trust does embrace this notion!]

    Essentially all that is needed to start the ball rolling is for IPCC-sceptical climatologists (and scientists from related fields) to be interviewed with the same respectfulness and open-mindedness that was enjoyed in that interview that John Humphrys had with the mathematician the other day, who was endeavouring to explain why his simple observation of couples in conversing on contentious issues for a limited period was a good predicitor of the sustainability of their relationships (at least in the medium term).

    Having got back to that remedial level of interviewing impartiality and respectfulness "capability" on the climate issue, the next step would again be to take bunches of highly respected scientists, who
    (a) support the IPCC; and
    (b) are sceptical of its stance for various reasons;

    and allow both separately and jointly conversations to be freely engaged in with some overseeing figures like Paxman, Humphrys, David Dimbleby, Nicky Campbell, Jeremy Vine and Melvyn Bragg. You could even go to the broader scientific-broadcaster community itself and take advantage of the skills of the likes of Robert Winston and Kathy Sykes.

    The outcomes of such discussions could then be fed into ongoing debates with people from the policymaking fraternity.

    The BBC would no longer be an impediment to free and open discussion of
    this important topic, but a facilitator.

    Remember that the uber amounts of money at stake (with essentially no guarantees of any observable benefit) lead to the onus being on those who wish to spend such sums being able to back up their claims to a very high standard of certainty: that level of certainty is nowhere to be found at present.

    Otherwise you've got PlayStation4 computational modelling (which currently enjoys abysmal predictive capability) leading us all a merry dance that will vie with the efforts of banking community over recent years in the seemingly never-ending quest to over-promise and under-deliver.

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  • 68. At 2:21pm on 29 Mar 2009, CuckooToo wrote:


    hear hear

    I have always thought a simple way for the Hockey Stick debate to be resolved, would be to put Mann and McIntyre in the same team and I believe McIntyre actually made the offer, which was turned down

    Perhaps a recognised, reliable statistician or statisticians (Wegman and North?) should be gainfully employed instead to verify these types of studies?

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  • 69. At 2:23pm on 29 Mar 2009, CuckooToo wrote:

    It seldom pays to fight the weather or the conditions.

    Perhaps there is a lesson there for climate change too?

    Exactly my friend ;)

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  • 70. At 3:32pm on 29 Mar 2009, manysummits wrote:

    to CuckooToo #69:

    I don't think we are drawing the same lesson from the same quote.

    Which is fine. I imagine you are seeing the humor in this comment of mine, and I must concede that I do too.

    Perhaps a 'bury the hatchet' approach would be to examine the worldwide evidence for a warming planet, and its implications, leaving aside the cause. This will of course prevent action to negate the warming, as the cause is not agreed upon.

    But since no concerted action appears imminent in any case, why not adopt this approach for awhile?

    Have you read my posts #'s 104 and 106 in 'climate tidy'?

    I worked hard to assemble this information in chronological order, which takes us from 1974 in West Antarctica to January 2009.

    There is no modelling there - only direct evidence from a variety of sources, from personal observation to automatic weather station data to GRACE satellite measurements.

    Is there concensus on this evidence?

    I think concensus is unduly berated in these blogs. How else to resolve disparate opinions amongst specialists?

    One answer is new incontorvertible evidence, of course.

    But let us first see how deeply the psychological scars go?

    What is your considered opinion of the evidence as presented in posts #'s 104 and 106? I pose this question to all visitors.

    - Manysummits, Calgary -

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  • 71. At 5:15pm on 29 Mar 2009, jjenkins73 wrote:

    "This pattern of temperature change has been changes in stratospheric ozone" (from post 106 on the other blog)

    - haven't heard much on the ozone layer recently, and didn't know it was such a major factor in Antarctic temperature change.

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  • 72. At 5:22pm on 29 Mar 2009, greengrouch wrote:

    On the point of how much co2 should each person be "allowed to emit" may be worth noting that yesterday evening at about 9 pm , every man woman and child in the UK was using 620 watts of electricity on average. (Rough figure derived from the instantaneous power stated by National Grid divided by 60 Million population.) Of course this does not include gas or petrol, but it might be worth starting from this figure. We seem to "need" this amount of juice now (and more at peak times) and think about what it actually means if, for example, we halved this demand....just a thought, but everyone needs to keep warm and heat water for a cuppa.

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  • 73. At 5:52pm on 29 Mar 2009, CuckooToo wrote:

    @manysummits #70

    the first part of your posts 104/106 assumes that CO2 is the culprit in global warming and everything else stems from that fact. There is no cast iron proof, other than in models, to show this is the case.

    the second part refers to the work by Stieg et al. This work has already been shown to be full of errors. Please go to and search for Steig and you will find details of the errors and extrapolations which should not happen in work that could change the world as we know it.

    My turn. Please go here and tell me what you think:

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  • 74. At 6:45pm on 29 Mar 2009, jjenkins73 wrote:

    "....something so obvious as that hot air rises is not properly taken into account by the climatological profession. When air is heated up locally, it ascends and the warmth is removed. It also expands with decreasing atmospheric pressure at higher altitude, and cools so that no remaining warming can be observed. The warmth taken over by the absorbing air is transported toward the upper troposphere. The greenhouse effect does not occur."

    - the above is from here:

    which in turn I got to from Dr Spencer's page. I personally am still reading what I can to make up my own mind. I reckon a lot of people visualise the warming process to be similar to the effect of cloud cover at night giving warmer surface temperature than clear skies.

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  • 75. At 9:25pm on 29 Mar 2009, CuckooToo wrote:


    the greenhouse effect, which is very real, is not like a warm blanket enveloping the earth and keeping the warmth in, convection etc play a big part in the earths atmosphere. Afterall CO2 is heavier than air, if the greeenhouse effect was like a blanket, the blanket would be at our feet

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  • 76. At 11:34pm on 29 Mar 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To CuckooToo # 73:

    Nothing that I can see in the evidence presented in 'climate tidy' blogs #'s 104 or 106 depends on any particular mode of forcing, including that of CO2.

    What does the collapse of three ice shelves have to do with anyone's views as regards climate forcing CuckooToo? They simply happened, they happened as predicted by John Mercer, and the dramatic advance of the glaciers feeding the collapsed sections is a documented observation.

    The GRACE satellites measure gravity anomalies, and are completely and utterly independent of CO2. They have shown in both Greenland and the West Antarctic that ice mass loss to the sea is occurring, and is accelerating.

    The latest compilation of weather observations in Antarctica are likewise completely independent of CO2 - they are weather data, like you get from your weatherman, and which are routinely used to help manage our airlines and pilots. The interpolation of these data is no doubt sophisticated, but apparently solid climatology.

    So I cannot understand your assertions at all CuckooToo!

    But I have read your link, and folowed up. It turns out that Dr. Roy Spencer is also an 'intelligent design' believer, by his own admission. I post his biography on Wikipedia below:

    I do not claim any special insight into why this universe is here, a Creator is entirely as possible as not, perhaps more so. But this is, at present, an unprovable tenet.

    I see that Dr. Spencer has also turned away from evolution as a viable theory.

    Paleontology was my best subject in university geology, and I have followed up on the scientific findings with regard to the origins of life on our planet since the late sixties. It is something I have more than reading knowledge of, and I can assure you that my belief in evolution is based on an amount and a quality of evidence which would be difficult to overstate.

    This brings us to psychology again, I'm very much afraid.

    Intelligent design and evangelical Christianity - I am intimately familiar with both.

    Let me say this. I imagine you thought it probable that I would follow up on your link, and that I would discover the intelligent design and anti-evolution beliefs of Dr. Roy Spencer.

    That's a form of honesty which I appreciate.

    It expalains a lot, perhaps all, as regards your anti Antropogenic Global Warming stance.

    Back to science:

    Doubtless clouds and the parasol effect deserve more study. Fine and good. But let me remind you that one of the leading experts on the parasol effect is none other than Dr. James Hansen, who cut his teeth on the study of the atmosphere of Venus. He is entirely as aware of the parasol effect as Dr. Spencer. The details await resolution.

    Which brings us back to my blogs #'s 104 and 106, which are in fact part of the documentary evidence that whatever the forcing, sea levels are rising, the oceans and the atmosphere are warming, and the glaciers are melting.

    I chose to concentrate on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet because that is where my own researches over these last few months have led me, to what I now think of as our Achilles Heel. Have you looked at a geological map of Antarctica?

    In these maps, the ice is removed, and the land and sea floor surface are all that remain. Except for some big islands, virtually the entire West Antarctic Ice Sheet region is ocean bottom. Find a National Geographic Atlas and look at the 'physical' map of Antarctica, to get a feel for what I am saying, and a visceral feel for how potentially vulnerable that ice sheet may be.

    Back to psychology and belief:

    This dialogue has been very informative for me, and I am confident that visitors to this blogsite will appreciate for themselves the accuracy of either my statements, or of yours, with regard to the science. Surely that is fair.

    But the intelligent design and anti-evolution people verses the perceived atheist science people, that will not go away, will it?

    More and more I see this division expanding, here in Canada, and in the United States, where I have travelled extensively.

    I am glad this is finally out in the open. I do not denigrate your beliefs CuckooToo. We are all dumbfounded when first we discover the certainity of our own mortality. And I have no pat answers for you.

    Perhaps a few words from Karen Armstrong might help us all. In her book "The Battle for God" (ca 2000), she says:

    "If fundamentalists must evolve a more compassionate assessment of their enemies in order to be true to their religious traditions, secularists must also be more faithful to the benevolence, tolerance, and respect for humanity which characterizes modern culture at its best, and address themselves more emphatically to the fears, anxieties, and needs which so many of their fundamentalist neighbors experience but which no society can safely ignore."

    - Karen Armstrong

    I will try my best to understand and protect, as I imagine will you.

    Regards to you and your family, CuckooToo

    - Manysummits, Calgary -

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  • 77. At 00:27am on 30 Mar 2009, David L wrote:

    Nice to see CuckooToo correcting the (presumably sceptic) post when it is wrong.

    jjenkins73, it is important to remember that something's temperature is not the absolute measure of how much energy it contains. As molecules get higher, they do disperse, as you say, which means that there is a lower pressure and therefore a lower instantaneous temperature at any given point - it doesn't mean that the energy isn't there, it's just spread over a wider area. You're also telling only part of the story, because "what goes up, must come down." Heat/energy doesn't ultimately escape out atmosphere with excited particles (well, a I guess a tiny percentage will) - it escapes in electromagnetic radiation - the interaction between this radiation and the atmosphere is what has become known as the greenhouse effect.

    CuckooToo - that iceagenow website seems a bit dodgy. Just because you can produce a big long list doesn't say much. I can't see any indication as to what proportion of the world's glaciers are growing. The website also seems more interested in weather than climate - most of the articles that I've clicked that it links to talk about 1, 2, 5 years tops. The link "Alaskan Glaciers Grow for First Time in 250 years" says more for climate change arguments than not.

    I'd be interested in your reaction to this article:

    Yea, it's hideously biased, but it does seem to get the the crux of the issue for me, which is whether or not further additions of CO2 to the atmosphere makes a substantial difference. The extra 4W/m^2 figure that has been discussed previously is quoted, and translated to be 2.8 Kelvin. If this is true, I think that would be conclusive enough for me to say we should worry.


    Sorry, I think you misunderstood me somewhat. Probably my fault. I wasn't happy with how I expressed what I was trying to say to begin with.
    My argument that emissions into the atmosphere is a moral issue is based one two premises:

    1. We share an atmosphere and therefore our actions in that atmosphere potentially effect other people.

    2. There is significant reason to believe that altering atmospheric levels of CO2 alters the climate. The fact that this occurs to some degree is something I doubt you would dispute. If CO2 levels were reduced to zero, we would feel it (shortly before we died). You're aware of the physics behind this I'm sure, chances are you're better educated than me - I'm only just starting uni. The question of whether or not it matters now because levels are saturated I've already raised above.

    No, don't be silly, I stated "within reason" and accepted we naturally change the atmosphere by breathing. Funnily enough though, eating and wood fires are carbon neutral activities. It seems that nature, in it's billions of years, has found relative equilibrium here. I'm therefore limiting the debate to fossil fuel usage, where equilibrium clearly isn't being reached, because there is a net effect on the atmosphere.

    I believe we can live the same lifestyle (if not better) with technology that is already with us, without fossil fuels. The only things I can think of that we can't really change are

    1) Emissions from concrete,
    and widening the debate to include your point about food
    2) Emissions from cows (of CH4).

    And you miss the point. Smoking is by no means a red herring, it is an analogy. Plato was allowed to use them, as was Hume. I'm allowing myself the same grace. OK, there are holes in the analogy, but I can't see that they're important. My point is, IF climate change is a possibility, then it becomes a moral issue, even before 95% proof or whatever.

    I have 3 solutions in terms of what needs to be deployed to reduce emissions (hopefully enough):

    1) Transport - electrify it, where you can't (currently only aerospace and ships) use biofuels (only time I'd suggest them, cause I hate them) and maybe nuclear for ships.

    2) Electricity - renewables, nuclear, pump storage to deal with some of the peaks/troughs. Fusion seems the only chance we realistically have of securing a truely sustainable, adequate electricity supply, so let's pray that works...

    3) Heat - pump storage of heat, using solar collectors is already pretty cheap and effective.

    There we go, massive reductions in natural gas, petrol and coal usage. There has to be better ways of producing fertilisers than those already employed, so I reckon, contrary to the blog above, we could reduce emissions there a bit.

    RE what's been said about higher CO2 being good for plants, there is this:

    however, I know that's no good for sceptics because of the climate change assumption. You don't expect me to believe that we're all going to starve though, just because we stop filling the atmosphere with more CO2? Without going into much detail, I'm sure better irrigation and nutrient management stands a much better chance of feeding the starving than an extra 50 ppb of CO2 ever could.

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  • 78. At 00:33am on 30 Mar 2009, deamon138 wrote:

    Richard, while greenhouse gas emissions from fertilizers are important, the emissions from the animals themselves is not, as opposed to what you said just above the picture of the sheep. These animals do emit greenhouse gases, but they don't have an effect from global warming, since the gases they emit come originally from their food, plants, which of course originally got the CO2 from their photosynthesis. So the C02 was taken in by the plants, and then emitted by the livestock. It's a very short cycle, and does nothing as far as I can tell to overall emissions. Same with methane emitted by these animals.

    While I'm at it, I'll say I completely disagree with the idea of "historical equity". That is the worst kind of "ex post facto" law you could ever find: it not only punishes us for "crimes" that we've committed when they weren't illegal actions, it punishes us for "crimes" our ancestors committed too! No the solution to climate change doesn't need to sacrifice our liberty. We can have both.

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  • 79. At 00:37am on 30 Mar 2009, Bicycle-Fan wrote:

    How do we get there? Since some people insist on not going, we need to find other ways of motivating them.

    Mr Black actually argues that it will be so difficult to reduce co2 emissions from agricultural sources, we should allocate our entire personal quota for food.

    I actually think we need to emit less than 2 tons per person, but we can achieve this with better crop rotation, and less meat consumption. The motivations for these, are reduced fertilizer expense for the farmer, and improved health for the consumer.

    The motivation for zero-carbon buildings, is reduced heating and cooling costs.

    The motivations for zero-carbon industry and power generation, are increased stability of supply, decreased fuel costs, and larger customer base.

    So once again we are back to transportation. Forget about global warming for now. Instead let us think about safety and efficiency.

    The Japanese Bullet trains have moved 7 billion passengers with only one death, primarily because they run on dedicated tracks that have no level crossings, so no trucks can get stuck in their path.

    The Worlds 800 million to one billion private motor vehicles, kill 1.2 million and injury about 50 million, people every year. If a new game system killed one gamer in a thousand per year, would it even get to market before being recalled?

    The advertizing is a lie. The open road is a myth, gridlock is the reality. We are not freed by automobiles, we are enslaved by them. If there were no cars or trucks, the streets would be safe for pedestrians and bicyclists. People would be forced to get some exercise by walking or cycling to and from train stations, thus improving their health, taking even more strain off the health-care system.

    In order to get there, governments would have to provide much better rail service, (or at least subsidize improvements) or the economy would shut down.

    Without trucks or taxis, we would need many more cargo-bikes and pedal-cabs. The resulting demand for more drivers, would eliminate unemployment, and drive up the minimum wage.

    So let us assume we could build a rail system connecting every city and almost every town on the planet. The system could move anything or anyone, to any destination, faster, safer and with less energy expended, than any mode of transport currently available. Such a system would essentially mean that transportation was so easy we could just forget about it and put our time and efforts into solving other problems. If such a system could reduce famines, improve health, and improve our finances, why would we not built it?

    If I have not yet made the case, that we do not need global warming, to build better rail service, then consider the conspiracy charge against Standard Oil, Firestone tires, and General Motors. They were convicted of conspiracy to create a monopoly, after they bought up and shut-down, almost every street car system in North America. The case was thrown out on appeal, but the deed was done. They could not compete with the street-car competition, so they eliminated it.

    If they can not make money, now, then they should be forced to make trains, cargo-bikes or pedal-cabs.

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  • 80. At 02:13am on 30 Mar 2009, deamon138 wrote:


    You forgot the obvious non-global warming reason against fossil fuels in transport - Peak Oil.

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  • 81. At 03:01am on 30 Mar 2009, DonnyAsh wrote:

    One major step would be local public transport. This could be done carbon free, and the technology to allow this to happen is already showing promise.

    Some time ago the BBC reported on a new company/university project team that had discovered a far more efficient way of producing hydrogen, which could be powered by solar or wind energy. The units could be deployed in the bus depots.

    The resulting hydrogen can then be used in a hydrogen fuel cell, or consumed in an ordinary petrol engine (with a few modifications). This would be stored at the bus interchanges, so transport range wouldn't be a problem.

    Local Authorities should join forces with bus companies and taxi providers and use this technology to revolutionise local transport. Get rid of buses as we know then now and replace them with a short single decker, and have these powered by the hydrogen produced. Increase the routes and frequency of service, and provide it free for use by all.

    This would not end the use of the car by any means, but faced with the option of free transport almost door to door, would mean a huge reduction in usage, thus reducing emmisions.

    But then if everyone had one (or two or more) of these in their homes they could power their own car in this fashion, and power and heat their home.

    To sum up: For us either as individuals or as a nation to reduce our carbon emissions to such a low level by not doing the things we do that produce the emissions would be virtually impossible. There are only two possible paths to follow that I can see, one more preferable than the other.

    One way would be to radically change the way we do things, little things, everyday things, big things. We would have to walk or cycle to work. Unless you could produce your own, electricity to light and heat your home would be limited and be hugely expensive. This doesn't bare thinking about.

    Another way would be to use technology to mimic what we do, but without producing the emissions, such as using hydrogen to power a car, and solar and wind energy to produce the hydrogen.

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  • 82. At 06:07am on 30 Mar 2009, TJ wrote:

    simon-swede #53.
    A fascinating job you have in energy policy making. Thanks for sharing. I thought your final comment was something we could all move forward on:
    "Perhaps it might be better to see Copenhagen as the starting point of a longer process. Agreeing a general framework on what needs to be tackled and a firm timetable to build the specific detailed agreements to make firm commitments and concrete actions possible".
    Aside from sorting out the very real difficulties of agreeing and implementing action it would give time for a public and open debate on the science and development of sound risk strategies, which if sound, will smooth the process of adopting and agreeing actions.
    To mannysummits: Sorry to hear of your cancelled climbing adventure today.
    A serious question and not aimed personally as Bicycle-Fan also raises the same questions to me:
    I climb and hike in the mountains. Recently in the Sierra Nevada’s (also cross country ski). I am familiar with the eastern Rockies up your part of the world. If I plan a day trip this time of year I would take my Jeep 4WD with chains, survival gear, skis etc.etc. It's 150+ miles to the foot hills (about 50+ from Calgary for you?) and then I'm into 4WD and perhaps chains to make a trail head. I would not put my life at risk and those of others to rescue me with anything less in preparation. To attempt in anything less (bikes or Tata-Nano cars) would be irresponsible. I believe in using what’s most efficient and safe for purpose. I live in the San Francisco Bay area and use the train to get to my office in the City. I have worked at a local refinery and have run and bicycled. I have also worked (travelling) all over North America where I fly and hirer cars (usually staying close to where I work so I can walk). That’s the way that my life has taken me through my career of which I have done the best I can for my family and contributed to my fellow man. I do take exception to being told I’m a polluter or whatever the latest denier label is. If you look around you will find most decent folks like you and me are the same. We need more than computer models, twisted science and political activism to convince us.
    Look at it this way mannysummits: what was the carbon footprint you saved today?

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  • 83. At 06:28am on 30 Mar 2009, Bicycle-Fan wrote:


    I could be snide and say I was only trying to stick to the facts, but you may be correct about peal oil. Anyway, I was trying to get the focus away from fuel sources and onto safety and efficiency.


    The solar hydrogen system you described, sounds like it might be an efficient way of storing energy. But it is not a free energy system. If it is the best system, use it.

    A free energy system, might be a bad thing. We would have no incentive get up off our lazy behinds and do some work. We would expect a machine to do everything for us.

    The roads are dangerous enough as it is. Would free power mean everyone could zip around in a silent car without ever having to pay for a fill-up?

    What about efficiency? No need for that, with free energy.

    Finally, since there are less than 1 billion private motorcars and more than 6 billion people, the we-s above, are in the minority. The vast majority of us do not own a motor vehicle, so would obviously benefit from improved rail-service.

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  • 84. At 06:53am on 30 Mar 2009, Nil_Conscire_Sibi wrote:

    I frequently drive on our nation's motorways, a few of them unlit. I have no trouble at all navigating these roads whether they are lit or not, because I have headlights. (Assuming, of course, there are sufficient cat's eyes on particularly curvy parts).

    So why not remove all motorway lighting? The cost of lighting Britain's motorways (i.e. the carbon emissions produced in order to generate the power required) must surely be great, and removing that cost would make it easier to reach the two-tonne target. Also removing lights from most straight A-roads would be fine.

    Even a simple thing like replacing a set of lights with a round-about would mean less fuel usage per car, as well as the removal of the need for an electricity supply, replacement of bulbs, builders to erect them in the first place, the mining of metal for their production, electricians to wire them, etc. Just think of all the processes (and carbon emissions) required to produce and maintain all of the millions of lights on our motorways.

    There are many more little tweaks that could be made here, as the cost of driving in Britain (or anywhere) remains one of the most important variables when dealing with climate change as a result of carbon emissions.

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  • 85. At 08:19am on 30 Mar 2009, CuckooToo wrote:

    @manysummits #73

    We're not talking about Spencers belief in God. Why do alarmists always try to find if the scientist is either a believer in God, pro-smoking or in the pay of oil companies, as an excuse for denying the science?

    Will you read Spencers work and explain what is wrong, Manysummits? Appeals to authority doesn't cut it.

    @bringiton8989 #77

    You're welcome. I may be sceptical of the science claiming CO2 is the driver behind climate change, but that doesn't mean mis-coneptions on either side shouldn't be corrected, although it wasn't actually jjenkins73 that misunderstood it.

    On the glacier website, it's not a question of the site being "dodgy" (personally, I think Hansens website is a bit dodgy), it's more "are the glaciers expanding or not". The answer is a simple yes or no. Another thing that manysummits avoids answering.

    The RealClimate article fails to inform the reader that we've been looking for the tell-tale warming sign of pattern that global warming greenhouse gases would leave for years and so far, not even a hint and without it, there is no proof, only conjecture

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  • 86. At 08:56am on 30 Mar 2009, simon-swede wrote:

    An EU Commission Communication document in January suggested taking criteria for calculating targets for developed countries. The four parameters are GDP per capita, emissions per unit of GDP, emissions trends between 1990 and 2005, and population trends over the period 1990 to 2005.

    The rationale behind the proposal is that developed countries’ overall target must be distributed in a manner that is fair and ensures comparability of efforts.

    Specifically, the following parameters are considered as key:

    – GDP per capita: reflecting the capability to pay for domestic emission reductions and to purchase emission reduction credits from developing countries;

    – GHG emissions per unit of GDP: indicating the domestic GHG emission reduction potential;

    – Trend in GHG emissions between 1990 and 2005: recognising domestic early action to reduce emissions;

    – Population trends over the period 1990 to 2005: taking into account the link between the size of the population and total GHG emissions.

    See: Towards a comprehensive climate change agreement in Copenhagen, COM 2009 39 final, Brussels, 28 January 2009.

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  • 87. At 10:55am on 30 Mar 2009, calcination wrote:

    Cuckoo too- I see you still claim that CO2 is not responsible for warming. What do you not understand, maybe I can walk you through it step by step?

    AS for glaciers, they are retreating everywhere there are rising temperatures and less precipitation, and may well be growing in some areas where there is greater precipitation. However the former appear to greatly outnumber the latter, and nobody in the Alps is denying that things are getting warmer.

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  • 88. At 11:54am on 30 Mar 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To CuckooToo # 85:

    Are the glaciers expanding or contracting?


    Appeals to authority:

    How do you propose we settle the matter on expanding or contracting glaciers?

    Bu appealing to authority. In this case, a reputable databank of the world's glaciers.

    I am receiving a continuing lesson in the disinformation campaign concerning climate change and global warming on this website.

    I am a fast learner.

    Take physics.

    Find someone with a physics degree (an appeal to authority), who will state publically that the physics of carbon dioxide and global warming, established many decades ago, is all wrong. Turn the argument on its head and then ask someone without a physics degree to explain to you, also without a physics degree, why the person with the physics degree is wrong, based of course on established principles of physics and science. A neat trick - I repeat - TRICK.

    This is obfuscation. I like that word, for it as as confusing as this seeming 'debate', which is the purpose of disinformation, and by your own admission, fraud.

    To visitors, and those interested:

    On James Hansen's website (a world renowned physicist, and director of the Goddard Institute for Space Sciences), please find on the first page, "Communications", the Jan 13/09 report titled: "2008 Global Temperature Analysis".

    Look at Figure 1. This is the DOCUMENTED GLOBAL TEMPERATURE RECORD for the planet since 1880. This is not a computer simulation.

    Looks a lot like the Mann hockey stick, don't you think?

    I proffered the outstretched hand, CuckooToo, and it has been rejected.

    It is the public's right to know and to decide if Dr. Roy Spencer's 'intelligent design' and anti-evolution stance is germane to his views on climate science.

    to timjenvey:

    We typically carpool, reducing our carbon footprint by at least a factor of two, sometimes four. A bus will decrease your footprint by, on average, a factor of ten.

    - Manysummits, Calgary -

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  • 89. At 12:34pm on 30 Mar 2009, calcination wrote:

    jJenkins #73- an increase in night time temperatures has been observed, which was expected due to the increase in CO2 acting like a blanket, although I'm sure you are aware that is not the whole story.

    Loss of Ozone in the Antarctic is causing slight warming of the stratosphere down there.

    Donny As #81- george Monbiot in his book "Heat" talks about the work someone has done on efficient public transport, and how a network of bus stations and trains and suchlike could do away with much of the morning commuting on the M25 and other such places.

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  • 90. At 12:47pm on 30 Mar 2009, bionicbadger wrote:

    Assigning humans "equal" amounts of carbon emissions is fundamentally flawed policy. Why? Because it *rewards* countries and societies for having more people--whether or not the people actually receive any benefit from those emissions or not. At best, these "carbon equality" and trading schemes are a way of redistributing wealth and emissions around the planet--achieving nothing.

    The *real* problem is in the number of people on this planet, because people will use what emissions they need or want irregardless of their "allotted share"--whatever that means. That's why I'd like to see a child *tax* for having more than the replacement ratio (2.1 children per couple), rather than these child credits or other *rewards* for excess burden on the system.

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  • 91. At 12:58pm on 30 Mar 2009, Wyrdtimes wrote:

    Grounding Brown would be a start - his round the world jaunt was completely unnecessary and the only thing it has achieved is to embarrass "Britain" more than we were already.

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  • 92. At 1:13pm on 30 Mar 2009, TandF1 wrote:

    Ooh, I inspired a whole blog. My point in rasing this issue was to highlight the sacrifices that need to be made to prevent "catastrophic climat change". It means that energy saving lightbulbs, hybrid cars, organic veg, and other "personal actions" are just not enough. Without some sort of political compulsion which I can't see as ever being viable there is no serious way to combat climate change. The Stern review makes assumptions of new and improved technologies but they may never happen. It seems to me we have two possible solutions: make huge sacrifices which history tells us is unlikely OR invest sums of money that would make Obama's Stimulus Plan look like a receipt from Netto into R&D of "green technologies" and hope for the best.

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  • 93. At 1:53pm on 30 Mar 2009, Crowcatcher wrote:

    A wonderfull history of geological change over the last 100,000+ years and much appreciated, but why restrict it just recent geological history?
    If you take all of Earth' history, excluding the initial cooling from its molten state (but that's another interesting topic relating to climate chang hysteria) then we find the following facts :-

    1. The Earth is 4.6 billion years old.

    2. In this span there have been three previous Ice Ages, we are currently living in the fourth. The major changes are caused by movement of the continents through tectonic plate activity causing changes to the way in which heat is transported from the tropics to the poles (there is evidence that the Cryogenean Ice Age covered the whole, single landmass when it was situated nearer the southern pole)

    3. These Ice Ages account for less than 10% of the Earth’s history.

    4. In between the Ice Ages the climate has been about 10C warmer than it is at present, 15C warmer than the Ice Age mean, and importantly, with NO polar ice caps. At no point in the recorded geological history has the climate exceded this figure despite levels of ‘greenhouse’ gases that are known to have been much greater than they are at present (there is a suggestion of an exception to this, that higher temperature was a partial cause of the Paleazoic mass extinction, but the evidence is inconclusive)

    5. These two simple facts (3 & 4) clearly indicate that, by a factor of 9 to 1, the climate can be regarded as having a “normal” state that is this 10C above the present. In this normal state life flourishes with evolution cotinuing unimpeded (most paleontolists seem to agree that life is generally much better for all when the climate is warmer).

    6. We are currently living through one of the interglacial warm periods of the present ice age(and a surprisingly long one in comparison with previously recorded ones)

    7. What these facts indicate is that, despite what happens in the next couple hundred years, we will relatively soon (geologically) be descending into the next glaciation so that, in (say) 50,000 years time, the northern hemisphere will have an ice sheet coverage of some 50% rendering that area totally unhabitable. The atmosphere will become substantially drier so that desert areas will increase with the lower rainfall, and life will become much harder for every living thing.

    8. In the more distant future, as tectonic activity moves the continents to different places on the Earth’s surface, the climate will again return to its more "normal" state of 10C greater than present with a sea level rrise of several tens of metres

    I just simply cannot see how anyone can propagate the "catastrophy" view of possible anthropogenic change - there must be a climate mechanism that prevents "overheating"

    I often imagine a time in the distant future, when the sun has expanded to the point where life on Earth is almost totally extinguished, the two last humans will sit by the last brackish water hole arguing about the pros and cons of anthropogenic climate change, and still not reach a conclusion (just like the economists laid end-to-end)

    Climate change, or not, there surely is a need for conservation in all things.

    As for a CO2 ration of 2 tonnes envisioned in this article, I would welcome this as my "Carbon footprint" (as calculated on several tweeny greenie websites) is 1.8 tonnes, and I still live a pretty comfortable life, - I would love to able to sell my surplus ration to some greedy, rich b******d!

    I've always beleived in conservation, my physics teacher at school, 50yrs ago, taught me the value of such things as double glazing and loft insulation. When we moved into a smart, new, oil heated, single-glazed , steel framed building he remarked "One day we will run out of oil and deeply regret all the waste that a terrible building like this involves" - plus ca change!

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  • 94. At 2:03pm on 30 Mar 2009, CuckooToo wrote:

    @calcination #87

    please do

    @manysummits #88

    List of expanding glaciers:
    Ålfotbreen Glacier
    Briksdalsbreen Glacier
    Nigardsbreen Glacier
    Hardangerjøkulen Glacier
    Hansebreen Glacier
    Jostefonn Glacier
    Engabreen glacier
    Helm Glacier
    Place Glacier
    Mt. Blanc

    Antizana 15 Alpha Glacier
    Silvretta Glacier
    Maali Glacier
    All 48 glaciers in the Southern Alps

    etc - you get the picture

    The Hansen link:

    Absolutely agree - global warming is real. Recorded temperatures rose towards the end of the 20th century. But this is nor unprecedented, but please show me the proof that this is unprecedented, because I cannot find it. (Newcomers to Richards blog, please do not refer to Manns Hockey Stick, we have already agreed the MWP existed)


    I don't have a problem with people know ing about Spencers belief in intelligent design, although i think he is wrong on this, afterall the great Lord Kelvin, got the age of the earth completely wrong. So far out that Darwin removed his best estimate from editions of his book, so as not to embarrass Kelvin - Darwin got is about right, based on his best estimate on the time required for creatures to evolve.

    So, can you, or any global warm-monger, please look at spencers work and tell me where you think it is wrong, ideally without any of the personal attacks or attempts to distract.

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  • 95. At 3:22pm on 30 Mar 2009, Moppy wrote:

    Having no further education to speak to I have no idea as to the feesability of this.
    How about abolishing money, become a currency-less economy. I.E you have access to all provided you are willing (if able) to work.
    Each worker get's a credit of 1.9 CO2 tonnes (I'll mention later). Criminals are docked CO2 kilo credit's, whilst Heads of Large Business who employee over 10 employees get 0.25 Co2 tonnes extra, over 100 get 0.75 extra CO2 tonn. over 1000 get 1 extra CO2 tonn. and so on.
    The CO2 credits are what are used to buy things. i.e it costs x CO2 KG/grammes to make each item in full including indirect cost's.
    This competative market should drive down the CO2 production cost's of everything.
    would you want to spend 5 kg of your CO2 credit to buy a TV or would you prefer to spend 1 kg for a similar quality TV?
    Just a thought, hopefully better educated people can point out my obvious (though not too me) downfalls.

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  • 96. At 3:23pm on 30 Mar 2009, theskyisnotfalling wrote:

    How many Glaciers are there in the world and how many of these have had there expansion/contaction measured over a sustained period of time?

    If you look hard enough you will find evidence of some expanding and some contracting - it is essentially proof of nothing. Have a read of the link below.

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  • 97. At 5:23pm on 30 Mar 2009, rossglory wrote:

    @manysummits - i'm afraid we're in a bit of a catch-22. the more you debate climate change science with 'sceptics' on comment boards the more it looks as if there IS a debate. for every link you give to a reputable source you'll get a link to some barmy pseudo-scientific political blog or a quote from Nostradamus and to those that don;t have time to follow the links (i.e. most sane people!!) it looks like an even debate when of course it's not.

    so i wouldn't take any of it personally :o)

    just to keep our score up here's a link to the definitive (world galcier monitoring - under the auspices of: ICSU (FAGS), IUGG (IACS), UNEP, UNESCO, WMO) set of data on glaciers

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  • 98. At 6:52pm on 30 Mar 2009, CuckooToo wrote:


    the debate is over when there is empirical evidence to support the claim, not computer models. Constantly claiming the debate is over, does not make it so

    and yes, i agree that some glaciers are retreating, it is evident, but you must also agree that some are growing and some are fairly stable or at least as stable as mother nature allows

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  • 99. At 8:12pm on 30 Mar 2009, Bryn wrote:

    #98 CuckooToo

    And that gets to the heart of it. Here is a piece of empirical evidence - that on average glaciers are loosing ice mass rather rapidly, and the number of glaciers loosing mass is greater than the number gaining mass by a factor of 4 or more. So ...

    Sorry Richard, we'll wake you up when your original thread reappears.

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  • 100. At 8:25pm on 30 Mar 2009, rossglory wrote:

    @CuckooToo - empirical evidence of the kind you're after will be worthless, the expt will be over. However, I wouldn't worry too much. Even though you can't win the scientific debate (facts will always be facts) unfortunately vested interests are still winning the argument where it counts, in this country anyway :o(

    "Britain's economic rescue package contains "neglible" spending on green measures, campaigners claimed in a report published today. Just 0.6% of the government's stimulus package will help develop a low-carbon economy, said the New Economics Foundation."

    Never going to get anyway near 2t/person with this current govt. I feel your pessimism is well founded Richard.

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  • 101. At 8:47pm on 30 Mar 2009, David L wrote:

    98 - CuckooToo

    And yet, what's the point in arguing over glaciers? We've got hung up over the whole "warming" part of "Global Warming" - sure, it's correct in the sense that in theory there should be a net increase in the overall energy in the ground/air/seas at any given point over the globe, but that doesn't necessarily mean that every glacier would retract anyway. We're all aware, for example, of the suggestion that the gulf stream may "turn off," making the UK colder.

    The problem with waiting for empirical evidence is that with regards to CO2, we don't really have a president for 380 ppb or whatever the current level is. To get to anything like "proof" in meteorology would require hundreds of years. The "Lets wait and see" principle does have potential flaws:

    "OK, so climate change does exist, but Holland, Bangladesh and the Maldives are gone" - for example.

    Computer models are a problem in - GIGO, but can you come up with a test that would be definitive enough for yourself that doesn't involve us taking enormous gambles with everybody's future?

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  • 102. At 9:33pm on 30 Mar 2009, Beejay wrote:


    Will the BBC broadcast this info as it seems to with every vague hint at climate disaster from other sources?

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  • 103. At 11:15pm on 30 Mar 2009, Arthur Putey wrote:

    At post #94, CuckooToo wrote:

    "So, can you, or any global warm-monger, please look at spencers work and tell me where you think it is wrong, ideally without any of the personal attacks or attempts to distract."

    Now the term "global warm-monger" is clearly intended to suggest some kind of link with war-mongers. It's certainly a clever and evocative label that packs a mean punch. But the second part of CuckooToo's sentence has that writer taking a (highly commendable) stance against "personal attacks" and "attempts to distract".

    It looks a lot to me like the pot calling the Richard Black...

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  • 104. At 11:44pm on 30 Mar 2009, Bicycle-Fan wrote:

    Bionic-Badger wrote;
    The *real* problem is in the number of people on this planet, because people will use what emissions they need or want irregardless of their "allotted share"--whatever that means.

    Sounds like someone trying to duck responsibility, by blaming the great unwashed masses. Unfortunately it does not add up. The Countries with the highest population growth rates, emit the least amount of co2. Although China has the Worlds largest population, it has only recently become the Worlds largest co2 emitter. This was not because of a rise in population, it was because of a rise in standard of living. More middle class Chinese, more meat production, more cars, more factories making products for export, but the same population.

    Obviously making us all poor is not going happen, we would not stand for it.

    So how do we create a transportation system, that lets us all move freely without killing us?

    You can try giving everyone on the planet an electric car, but I will tell you now, that will not work. Too much co2 will be emitted just to build all those cars. Not enough renewable energy will be collected to power them all, so even more co2 will be emitted to do so. And after all that, the cars would not improve mobility, they would create 24/7 gridlock.

    On the other hand, for a fraction of what we spend on private vehicles, we could build a rail system, so fast, reliable, and complete, that we could forget about transportation problems, and focus our attention on more important things. If only 15% of the population, would keep their motor-vehicle owning selves out of the way.

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  • 105. At 01:28am on 31 Mar 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To rossglory # 97:

    Thanks for your help - much appreciated. I've copied your link for glaciers into my files.

    I've thought about the point you make, about the illusion that there is a debate in terms of science. There is that drawback.

    But I've learned to trust my instincts and intuition these last fifteen years. The disinformation campaign, wherever it originates, and I suspect several separate sources, is I think, their Achilles Heel.

    The confuse campaign is probably present on many blogsites - I only read and blog on this one. But as evidenced by the number of posts on this topic, and as a result of the sometimes personal nature of the exchanges between the 'skeptics' views and those of the opposite persuasion, interest is both generated and maintained. And people are not dumb, not in the final analysis.

    Having travelled slowly and deliberately throughout my life, 'for to admire an' for to see', I have had occasion to speak to and know people from many walks of life, and several different cultures.

    And I have real confidence in people and in the saying:

    "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time".

    What I suppose I am trying to say is this. It feels right to be doing this. Yes, there are drawbacks, and I personally do not know, and cannot foresee, the way the tide will finally turn.

    Perhaps it will be an act of nature, the breakup of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, for example, or perhaps an heroic gesture, for example the small BBC group now out on the Arctic Ice, attempting to get to the North Pole and measure ice thickness along the way. Perhaps it will be the United Nations, or a climate scientist turned world leader, or a visionary world leader in office now or soon to be?

    But necessity and empirical evidence will eventually prevail, and we, the human race, will turn like a school of fish, in a new direction. The alternative would be death, and in the end, people will vote for life.

    I hope that my posts are helpful in some technical sense. Maybe a few people will try James Hansen's website and say - "Hey, I didn't know that!"

    But mostly it feels good to fight, rossglory, it's where my heart is.

    - Manysummits, Calgary -

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  • 106. At 02:09am on 31 Mar 2009, deamon138 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 107. At 06:17am on 31 Mar 2009, wfmgeo wrote:

    Crowcatcher, I admit to having been remiss in being distracted by other more local matters. And I really need to not respond and get some rest so I can work on actually cleaning up the planet tomorrow instead of worrying about future fantasies. But allow me to address your concerns.

    1. As best we can estimate, the earth is indeed somewhere around 4.5-4.6 billion years old. But there have not been anywhere near 3 previous ice ages. Honestly I don't think anyone has actually estimated the real number. If we look at just the various Greenland ice core projects, we can get back to just a tad before the most recent interglacial, the Eemian, or about 130k years. This is because Greenland receives dramatically more precipitation as snow than the Antarctic does. The Antarctic is a virtual desert. And glacial ice can only grow so thick before its sheer weight exceeds the pressure temperature boundary and it melts, moves and calves off to form icebergs. The massive variety of which form Heinrich events (please look these up, its late on the left coast). We have clear evidence of 7 ice ages, and six interglacials, dating back to the Mid Pleistocene Revolution (or Transition, depending upon your preferred nomenclature), where we went from a 100k year cycle of major ice-age/interglacials (which just happens to match the periodicity of the eccentricity of earth's orbit) to the 41k year periodicity (which just happens to match the obliquity of earth's orbit) which we maintained for over 1M years. Inside of just the last ice-age/interglacial couple we have had 24 Dansgaard-Oeschger events which commonly raise earth's temperature worldwide by between 8-10C with outliers up to 16C in just a few years to mere decades. Naturally. If we take the proxy records into account, we have evidence of D-O events dating back 680 million years! Which means that no matter what you find yourself more prone to believe, fact or future fantasy, this will occur anyway, time and time again. And we really do know what causes D-O events.

    2. Actually no. The plates haven't moved all that much in the past 800k years (back to the MPT). In that time we have had about 20 obliquity cycles and 35 precessional cycles. Somewhere in that time, I believe (and I am too tired to research it) the Isthmus of Panama may have closed (changing thermohaline circulation patterns somewhat). So what did happen was astronomical in its effects, not geological. If you fail to factor that in, then you miss the point. In partial answer to your other propositions, there appear to have been periods when the earth was completely covered in ice. Again, we must access the proxy records to reach this conclusion.

    3. The ice ages dating back to the MPT do indeed appear to account for about 10% of this time, averaging about one half precessional cycle. A precessional cycle is presently 23,000 years, making the Holocene, at 11,500 years, precisely half a precessional cycle.

    4. Not sure what you are saying here. The history of the interglacials is best recorded in the most recent ones, as they tend to wipe the previous ones out to a large extent. The best records of ones that preceded the last one, the one where H. sapiens first appears in the fossil record, are found in the deep ocean sediment cores. Here, methodology developed in just the past few decades, suggests that D-O events, Heinrich events and Bond cycles go back as far as we can make them out. To a large degree, we see paleoclimate as being bimodal, with a cold and warm state. Surprisingly, GHGs tend to follow the transitions, not lead them, which leaves us with the conundrum: what causes the transitions?

    5. Non sequitor

    6-7. Perhaps this is a long one. They tend to last about 10k to 11k years, which makes this one at 11.5k years seem a bit long. I agree models, which take a subset of what we know and project this into the future, unequivocably predict that this interglacial will last another 50k years or so. This is, of course, eminently believable because it would represent the only single occurrence in the past 5 million years or so of paleoclimate record where such a long interglacial will futuristically occur. Which, of course, if you are a true scientist, should give you pause. If it is a prediction, which is not a fact, but a potential future fact (albeit from a simplistic model), then does this trump the facts (in each of your own minds) that such a long lived interglacial is without precedent in the Quaternary record? And the answer to that depends on your relative permeability to fact or fiction, which just happens to be 9 to 1 in favor of rumor. This is where you get to exercise your own judgement. You have precisely an 11.1% chance of guessing the correct answer.

    8. Plots of where the continents will go abound. Yes, their positions influence the thermohaline circulation patterns immensely. But this is probably many precessional, substantial obliquity and considerable eccentricity cycles from today. Best guess is that, for whatever reasons, the astronomical cycles will prevail for some tectonic time to come.

    On the other hand I do indeed see how anthropogenic influences can impact climate, but the probability of CO2 doing it beggars the vast scientific research and imagination I am well known to have. It will likely occur something like this. While we patently ignore the other 800 pound gorillas in the climate change room with us (they would be namely triple canopy rainforest deforestation and human population), the present interglacial will, unfortunately, come to a catastrophic end. These things are remarkably well documented in the proxy records of ice cores, sediment cores, pollen and tree ring cores to happen astonishingly fast and on a worldwide basis.

    For the non-scientists here, I highly recommend spending a few pennies and picking up a copy of "Climate Crash" published by the National Academies Press in 2005 and is a smashing good read. Meaning I am asking you to put your money where (in this case) your keyboards are. It was written for non-scientists but carefully documents what we have learned, and how we learned it, over the past century in regards to climate change.

    What we have learned is precisely and simply this. Climate changes on an astonishingly fast basis, reliably, rythmically, and completely independently of human activity for as far back as we can see in the proxy record. The changes are immensely larger, faster and driven in ways that we are only now beginning to begin to understand. And GHGs are as much a spectator as the various issuances of hominids as have occurred in response thereto as we can see going back in our own fossil record.

    Meaning it would seem to require a reliable, dramatic and unavoidable climate change event to posit an upward change in our collective braincase size (hominids went from 500cc to 2500cc over the past 33 major climate change events FYI). And if the proxy records we have been able to prize out of the morass of available sedimentary detritus (meaning ice or ocean strata for instance) are any proof, we are precariously close to precisely half of a precessional cycle.

    Which should shine a deliriously human light on GHGs, of all things. If, as it would seem, the effects of the Jovian planets on rickety old planet earth's orbit, which are eerily spot-on to past climate change events, and as the sun has gone all quiet on us in these past two years (precious few sunspots and below observed theoretically minimum solar flux), we could really be near a tipping point, but in the opposite direction of common thought on the subject (remember if we are right just 11.1% of the time, based on the 9 times rule, then 88.9 % of the time......), where would that leave us vis-a-vis the cursed GHG blanket?

    Which just might leave us precisely where we should be. Imagine what Fred Flintstone said to Barney Rubble when "Barn" picked up that sharp rock and proceeded to flay the skin away from their recent kill. It took another 20 or so major climate change events, and lord only known how many D-O events, before we even made it to the the Bronze age, and just a little more time to the present interglacial when just 10k years ago we transitioned from cave paintings to papyrus, and just 7k years before we domesticated cats.

    Which brings us to to today, where, try as we might, we still cannot herd cats.........

    Enjoy the interglacial!

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  • 108. At 06:19am on 31 Mar 2009, TJ wrote:

    Bravo Cuckotoo: Taking the flack here defending what I believe to be the true nature of science. Sadly you have shown up some closed minds. Evolution, creation and intelligent design are all earnest attempts by good intelligent folk to make sense of the world and build a frame work with the little knowledge we have. As we dig deeper the veil gets wider and thicker. To dismiss any of these is folly and arrogant in my mind. We should cherish the whole and totally open our minds. Adherence to one (belief) is just an example of a fundamentalism in mind. They are all imperfect.
    The other hot button seems about glaciers. Well, I recall from my school days that woolly mammoths were being hunted by our ancestors in the Arctic region a few 1000's of years ago. It then got a bit chilly and the mammoths got frozen in the ice and our ancestors end up fishing off of ice flows in the Bay of Biscay (I think glaciers covered the US Great Plains at that time). Then a few 1000's years later we are living comfortably and productively in a relatively moderate climate and finding a few woolly mammoths defrosting from the ice. If nature looks kindly on us we may be yet again populate the Arctic regions although unfortunately the woolly mammoth did not make it. Thankfully the glaciers have been receding for a few 1000 years and I hope we do not see a reverse like the last time. We may end up like the woolly mammoths. This is a bit tongue in cheek but hope you get my drift.

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  • 109. At 08:25am on 31 Mar 2009, CuckooToo wrote:

    @Bryn_hill #99

    Some are shrinking, some are growing. It was claimed that the globe was losing ice, but current measurements show there is a rough balance between areas losing ice and areas gaining ice.

    @bringiton8989 #101

    CO2 levels - read Jarowoski and Beck for details

    "Holland, Bangladesh and the Maldives are gone"

    Sea levels are not rising any faster than they have done for the last century. The TOPEX/JASON sea-level monitoring satelites have shown sea level as rising at a near-linear rate. This is to be expected as we are recovering from the Little Ice Age and thermal exapnsion of the oceans will raise sea levels, although I note oceans are now cooling.

    Bangladesh is gaining land area:

    @ArthurPutey #103

    you're right arthur, sometimes it gets frustrating when alarmists (or whatever the prefered term is), sling around attacks without answering questions. I have to put up with all sorts of slights and mostly I ignore them.

    Please accept my apologies.

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  • 110. At 09:04am on 31 Mar 2009, rossglory wrote:

    @102 globalclaptrap.

    i agree entirely that the bbc should give exposure to the cato institute's views. this is their mission statement:

    "The mission of the Cato Institute is to increase the understanding of public policies based on the principles of limited government, free markets, individual liberty, and peace."

    clearly nothing to add to the scientific debate. so, it should be in a 'how are extreme right-wing libertarian groups trying to subvert the message of science?' article

    thank you for raising this.

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  • 111. At 10:57am on 31 Mar 2009, Bryn wrote:

    #109 Cuckootoo

    No, what these figures show is that there is a net loss of ice from the worlds glaciers. If you think otherwise could you say why? I do see occasional attempts to confuse the issue by discussing ice area rather than ice volume (especially with sea ice in the arctic) but you know better than that.

    To address an earlier point, yes lets spend on improving water supply and sanitation in the developing world. But if we don't mitigate AGW our efforts and money will be wasted. And it's win-win - the better our non-fossil fuel energy supply, and the more efficient our energy use, the more secure and better provided for we will all be, rich or poor. You'd rather give to Oxfam than Exxon I presume?


    I want AGW to be untrue just as much as anyone and I would love to sign up to the views stated above that Cato list. But I can't because I (and >95% of climate scientists - from the Doran and Zimmerman study) think they are wrong. Cato have a product to sell. Why should we buy it?

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  • 112. At 12:02pm on 31 Mar 2009, manysummits wrote:

    - Religion and Carbon Footprints -

    To timjenvey # 108:

    You imply that you and yours have some lock on open mindedness.

    Here is an exerpt from the official position of the Catholic Church on climate change:

    "The scientific evidence for global warming and for humanity's role in the increase of greenhouse gasses becomes ever more unimpeachable, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change findings are going to suggest; and such activity has a profound relevance, not just for the environment, but in ethical, economic, social and political terms as well. The consequences of climate change are being felt not only in the environment, but in the entire socioeconomic system and, as seen in the findings of numerous reports already available, they will impact first and foremost the poorest and weakest who, even if they are among the least responsible for global warming, are the most vulnerable because they have limited resources or live in areas at greater risk. We need only think of the small island developing states as one example among many. Many of the most vulnerable societies, already facing energy problems, rely upon agriculture -- the very sector most likely to suffer from climatic shifts.

    Thus, in order to address the double challenge of climate change and the need for ever greater energy resources, we will have to change our present model from one of the heedless pursuit of economic growth in the name of development, toward a model which heeds the consequences of its actions and is more respectful toward the creation we hold in common, coupled with an integral human development for present and future generations."

    There has been much intellectual discussion here on this blogsite. Well and good.

    "Wfmgeo" is now contributing in a positive way to this discussion, for example, and I for one, appreciate his obvious technical expertise on this subject.

    The 'skeptics' claim some hold on humanity. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is an old saying:

    "The road to hell is paved with good intentions".

    I am reminded of my experience of the world. Tremendous intellectual talent on the Massachusetts coast, at Woods Hole, or on the Pacific coast, at Scripps, likewise for Europe, and Australia, Russia etc...

    And all of them ineffectual in preventing this developing disaster, which is not limited to climate change.

    As the church address points out, as have secularists, it is always the poor and weak who bear the brunt of our folly.

    And from my perspective, it is always people who are willing to fight who win battles. You in Great Britain have not forgotten the intellectual prowess of Chamberlain, nor have you forgotten the man who rallied your forces. We may well need such a man as Churchill now, as James Lovelock has pointed out.

    Brother Guy Consolmagno is an astrophysicist at the Vatican observatory at Castle Gondolfo, the Pope's summer residence, and in charge of one of the largest meteorite collections in the world. He left secular life to become a Jesuit.

    As far as I know, the Roman Catholic Church has no problem with evolution. We can check this if any so desire?

    I am not a practicing Catholic anymore, but I have studied comparitive theology, amongst my other intellectual interests.

    Beware of hubris, you who claim the throne of intellectual foresight, or of reasoned debate, for while you may indeed see better than others, you have proved impotent in the past, and at the present.

    - Manysummits, Calgary -

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  • 113. At 1:12pm on 31 Mar 2009, theskyisnotfalling wrote:

    On the subject of energy resources and how they are being used and why the use of coal and gas are on the increase - Phillip Stott has a good blog:

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  • 114. At 1:21pm on 31 Mar 2009, rossglory wrote:

    @CuckooToo - sorry you seem to be getting the brunt of this but...

    With regard the scientific debate, it's not me saying it's over (or you saying it's not for that matter) on message boards that has any bearing on it. It's a practical fact. Here's some research from active climatologists from Univ of Chicago (lead author Prof Peter Doran).

    "In a survey released on Tuesday by researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago, it was found that 82% of 3,146 earth scientists surveyed blame human activity for changing global temperatures.

    Of these scientists, 97% of climatologists believe humans play a role. The biggest doubters came from the fields of petroleum geology and meteorology, with only 47% and 64% attributing climate changes to human behavior, respectively."

    Now that does not 'prove' anything about AGW but unless these guys can;t count it shows pretty conclusively that when there's a scientific debate about whether humans putting CO2 into the atmosphere causes climate change, for every 3 scientists (Dr Spencer is in there somewhere) that say they're not sure 97 will put their hands up and say I believe it is AGW.

    I would say that what you can really take from the figures is that there is a very significant statistical correlation between knowledge about climatology and acceptance of AGW.

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  • 115. At 2:03pm on 31 Mar 2009, CuckooToo wrote:

    @Bryn_hill #111

    Apologies, I meant to say:

    "It was claimed that the globe was losing ice from the poles, but current measurements show there is a rough balance between areas losing ice and areas gaining ice."

    @rossglory #114

    No problem, i have thick skin

    Wasn't Peter Doran the guy who said the Antarctic has cooled between the 1960's to 2000 and then distanced himself from the paper, when sceptics started to highlight his former opinion

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  • 116. At 5:36pm on 31 Mar 2009, Crowcatcher wrote:

    You are making the very common mistake of not being able to distinguish between the correct geological terms for "ice age" and "glaciaciation".
    This seems a great shame as your original entry is so detailed and accurate.
    An "ice age" is regarded as the long interval during which the climate is generally colder than the periods either side and last several million or even tens of millions of years.
    The periods within ice ages where there are oscillations between colder and warmer periods are callled "glacial" and "interglacial" periods, which, within this current ice age, which started about 50M years ago, the oscillations are at, aproximately, 100,000 years intervals in accordance with the Milankovich cycles. ( Toghill - "Geolgy of Shropshire" et. al.)
    So my original assertions are correct, that, in the last 4 billion years there have been three previous "ice ages" and that we are currently living in the fourth, and that the "normal" state of climate temperature can be regarded as being about 10C greater than at present by a factor of 9 to 1
    see :-
    for a good graph of the climate temperatures and CO2 levels for the last 600M years.

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  • 117. At 11:46pm on 31 Mar 2009, Bicycle-Fan wrote:


    Discussing whether ice age, means the entire glacial and interglacial, or just the icy bit, misses the point. The ice is melting.

    The case has not been made that the "normal" state of climate temperature can be regarded as being about 10C greater than at present by a factor of 9 to 1

    What does that mean anyway? 90C warmer than at present? I highly doubt our planet was ever that much warmer, as the seas would boil at that temperature.

    I looked at the linked website, but could see no references so was unable to verify its data.

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  • 118. At 00:41am on 01 Apr 2009, manysummits wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 119. At 01:58am on 01 Apr 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To Pawb46, #'s 7 & 34:

    It's taken awhile to reply to you re: the physics of climate change and your comments in a previous blog about Freeman Dyson and his views on CO2 and climate change.

    I will reproduce a couple of your assertions here, PAWB46:

    "If ever there is convincing scientific evidence (which, because of the physics, I'm sure there cannot be), then I will consider that a gradual reduction in CO2 emissions may be necessary."

    # 34:
    "Show me the physics of how a doubling of CO2 will affect the climate."

    As a nuclear physcist, I'm sure you will recognize the name 'Gilbert Plass'. I have a copy of his 1959 article for Scientific American, "Carbon Dioxide and Climate". This was part of the reading for my course in marine geology at McGill University in 1970.

    I just found out that Scientific American has reproduced this on the internet, to provide 'historical perspective' on the climate change issue now before the public. Here is the link:

    And here is a link for those unfamiliar with Gilbert Plass:

    Unfortunately, the Wikipedia stub does not mention that Dr. Plass worked on the Manhattan Project at the University of Chicago during World War Two.

    The absorption bands of CO2, water vapor and ozone are particularly impressive, but the entire article, though dated in parts, is really quite beautiful, for quite obviously, it is written by 'a beautiful mind'.

    I am not a physicist, and will not presume to inform you, PAWB46, on the subject. But perhaps Gilbert Plass will succeed where I have failed.

    As regards Freeman Dyson:

    I am an admirer, and for years I had his 1979 book, "Disturbing the Universe". I have two of his quotes in my card files. For those unfamiliar with this famous physicist and mathematician, and humanist, I post this link from Wikipedia:

    I reproduce his views on CO2 and AGW from the Wikipedia article. For the full monty, please see the link above.

    Global warming
    Dyson agrees that anthropogenic global warming exists, and has written:

    “ One of the main causes of warming is the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere resulting from our burning of fossil fuels such as oil and coal and natural gas.[20] ”

    However, he has argued that existing simulation models of climate fail to account for some important factors, and hence the results will contain too much error to reliably predict future trends.

    “ The models solve the equations of fluid dynamics, and they do a very good job of describing the fluid motions of the atmosphere and the oceans. They do a very poor job of describing the clouds, the dust, the chemistry and the biology of fields and farms and forests. They do not begin to describe the real world we live in...[20] ”
    “ As a scientist I do not have much faith in predictions. Science is organised unpredictability. The best scientists like to arrange things in an experiment to be as unpredictable as possible, and then they do the experiment to see what will happen. You might say that if something is predictable then it is not science. When I make predictions, I am not speaking as a scientist. I am speaking as a story-teller, and my predictions are science-fiction rather than science.[20]"

    Fair enough. If anyone will take the time to read, for example, James Hansen's scholarly publications on the subject of climate change and GISS modelling, you will find the uncertaintities and caveats of which Freeman Dyson speaks clearly earmarked as requiring further study, as their uncertainties are so large.

    In other words - good science at work.

    Hence the paleoclimatic record. Here the net result of positive and negative feedbacks is summed up, so to speak. Of course, one needs a different set of tools to decipher the geological marine sediment cores, the ice-cores from Greenland and the Antarctic and the mountain glaciers and ice-caps etc... A thorough knowledge of both stable and unstable isotope methods would be very helpful, etc, etc...

    A lot to ask of the public, or indeed of anyone who does not have exceptionally strong generalist tendencies. Luckily, the majority of great scientists all seem, to this observer at any rate, to share this unbounded curiosity. It appears to me a mark of true genius. But that's just my opinion, after all.

    In this blog, I have attempted to present for the public's perusal, the views of three physicists. Best of luck in your musings.

    - Manysummits, Calgary -

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  • 120. At 03:52am on 01 Apr 2009, wfmgeo wrote:


    Actually, its no shame at all. No scientist would ever believe a million year ice age during the Phanerozoic, the Proterozoic maybe, but the Pleistocene, absolutely not. Only way back in the days of Wegener did anyone believe in millions of years long ice ages. Try reading the NAS reference I quoted back there. This will bring you up to date.

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  • 121. At 04:21am on 01 Apr 2009, jr4412 wrote:

    hi, an informative and well-argued debate.

    the idea in #95 is radical but sensible in that it seems fair to use a single "token" of exchange globally.

    re. the CO2 allowance: not one of the contributors has presented data, or even alluded to, on the role of the defense industries and armed services; I would love to find out (roughly) how much CO2 is released by the wars we fight, the weapons we manufacture, and so on. does anyone have a good estimate?

    we (individuals) are asked to sacrifice for the greater good while national governments are dragging their feet.

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  • 122. At 04:42am on 01 Apr 2009, manysummits wrote:

    - Freeman Dyson - (followup to post # 119)

    "The fundamental problem of man's future is not economic but spiritual, the problem of diversity."

    "Sanity is, in its essence, nothing more than the ability to live in harmony with Nature's laws."
    - From "Disturbing the Universe", by Freeman Dyson, 1979.

    Since this is an environmental site, these quotes seem achingly appropriate. I cannot overemphasize my agreement. Our real problem is spiritual - we seem to have forgotten Nature's laws - forgotten we are part of Nature - forgotten how that feels.

    I'd like to end on a hopeful note. We squabble here in this time of trouble, like so many seagulls after crumbs.

    Again, Freeman Dyson - in "Atlantic Monthly" (November 1997):

    "Life in the Kuiper Belt would be different from life on Earth, but not necessarily less beautiful or more confined. After a century or two there would be metropolitan centers, cultural monuments, urban sprawl - all the glories and contents of a high civilization. Soon restless spirits would find the Kuiper Belt too crowded. But there would be an open frontier and a vast wilderness beyond. Beyond the Kuiper Belt lies a more extended swarm of comets - the Oort Cloud, further away from the sun and still untamed".

    Lest one think these thoughts modern, I quote from the Vedas, among the oldest extant comments on human nature:

    "There is no happiness for the man who does not travel;

    Living in the society of men, the best man becomes a sinner;

    For Indra is the frend of the traveller, therefore wander".

    - Manysummits -

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  • 123. At 05:57am on 01 Apr 2009, TJ wrote:

    To Manysummits #112: You touched on one of my more sensitive areas and my response was a quick fire. I'm pleased to see you blogging away today. I appreciate your comments and learn from your perspective.
    Going back on Richards question: "Carbon: How much is enough?" my perspective comes from thinking of "Window Taxes", "VAT", "POLE taxes" etc. Now we have "Carbon tax". The answer to Richard’s question is quite simple:
    1/. How much do the governments need to raise?
    2/. How much re-distribution of wealth do they want to achieve?
    These will be the driving factors whatever the consequences of CO2 may prove to be. The difference this time will be that it will move from a local to a global level.
    The US has now joined the game and the movement is accelarating. Governments are already banking and planning on the future revenues. I'm beginning to believe we will not have a choice than to get out our check books and sign the blank checks in a year or two.
    We have survived in spite of taxes and defeated some, often by persistently raising our voices to be heard (like the Thatcher Poll Tax) and the voices on this blog give me some pause for optimism.

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  • 124. At 07:53am on 01 Apr 2009, PAWB46 wrote:

    I note on WUWT this morning that an analysis of news stories over the last year has shown that the ratio of alarmist/sceptic articles has changed from about 100/1 to about 50/50. Hopefully the end of the "greatest scientific scam in history" is in sight. It's not surprising really. Despite Hansen's adjustment of the data to create artificial warming, most people know that we haven't experienced any warming for years. The predictions of alarmists have been shown to be false.

    The truth cannot be hidden forever. Even I had an article published in a local newspaper concerning this scientific scam; and the number of sceptics commenting in newspapers and on blogs increases by the day.

    Who knows, even the BBC may eventually lose its alarmist bias. But the politicians won't give up easily. The tax and control benefits of the scam are too great for them; and of course politicians never admit they were wrong!

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  • 125. At 11:46am on 01 Apr 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To timjenvey # 123:

    I appreciate that timjenvey, and I needed that this morning, as it turns out. Much appreciated.

    To PAWB46 #124 & re: #122 and #119

    Congratulations, the disinformation campaign is working.

    Why should we be surprised?

    But the president of General Motors was fired earlier this week, by President Obama. And Michael Moore has sent me an email describing how he felt about this. Which gives one more confidence in the assertion:

    "You can't fool all of the people all of the time".

    I see you have neglected to respond to my post # 119, in which I answered your call for scientific evidence of manmade climate change via fossil fuel CO2 gases. I answered by citing the words of a nuclear physicist, Gilbert Plass, and by providing a link to his 1959 Scientific American article, "Carbon Dioxide and Climate", which Scientific American has seen fit to reproduce on the internet for its value in providing historical perspective on this subject, to say nothing of the brilliant science behind the article. I have the original offprint before me as I write this, from my 1970 class in marine geology at McGill University.

    Then I provided links and quotes from a physicist whom you professed to respect, Freeman Dyson. These comments appear in post # 119. I myself professed admiration for Freeman Dyson, and backed this up by providing two of my favorite quotes from Dr. Dyson, two quotes spanning some seventeen years, which, I would think, speak volumes for my admiration for this man.

    But not a word from yourself. Fair enough.

    Please provide links to your article in the newspaper you have sent your thoughts to, if possible.

    As a nuclear physicist, and seeing how adamant you are that "the physics is wrong" on global warming, I would also be interested to know if you have taken your abhorrence of the useless spending of taxpayers money to the peer reviewed scientific literature. I am sure all of us here would appreciate a link to the abstract.

    For the perusal of those who find links too time consuming, I will post a short exerpt from Dr. Plass's 1959 article in Scientific American:

    "This theory suggests that in the present century man is unwittingly raising the temperature of the earth by his industrial and agricultural activities.

    Even the carbon dioxide theory is not new; the basic idea was first precisely stated in 1861 by the noted British physicist John Tyndall. He attributed climatic temperature-changes to variations in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. According to the theory, carbon dioxide controls temperature because the carbon dioxide molecules in the air absorb infrared radiation. The carbon dioxide and other gases in the atmosphere are virtually transparent to the visible radiation that delivers the sun's energy to the earth. But the earth in turn reradiates much of the energy in the invisible infrared region of the spectrum. This radiation is most intense at wavelengths very close to the principal absorption band (13 to 17 microns) of the carbon dioxide spectrum. When the carbon dioxide concentration is sufficiently high, even its weaker absorption bands become effective, and a greater amount of infrared radiation is absorbed [see chart on page 42]. Because the carbon dioxide blanket prevents its escape into space, the trapped radiation warms up the atmosphere."
    - Dr. Gilbert Plass, 1959

    I encourage serious students of both the environmental crisis and of climate change to read this article in full, and to view its graphs, which in the way they are presented, are, I think, the work of genius. Better still, visit a library, where a copy may still be found.

    I will end with this, a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

    "Nothing astonishes men so much as common sense and plain dealing".
    - Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882)

    - Manysummits, Calgary -

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  • 126. At 12:59pm on 01 Apr 2009, CuckooToo wrote:


    I'm sorry to say this, manysummits, because I appreciate you are trying to understand what is happening as much as the rest of us, and, whilst I disagree with your view, I respect your wish to express it, but I don't think it is right that you should expect people to answer your questions, when you don't answer other peoples.

    I have asked you to read and comment on Spencers view of climate change, but so far you have failed to do so. I did wait, because I wanted to give you time to read and formulate a response, but nothing. I take the time to read your links and answer your and everybody else's comments, the least you could do is answer mine.

    I'm sure PAWB46 is perfectly capable of answering your questions, but in the meantime, how about a response for me?

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  • 127. At 1:24pm on 01 Apr 2009, CuckooToo wrote:


    From your link:

    A familiar instance of this "greenhouse" effect is the heating-up of a closed automobile when it stands for a while in the summer sun. Like the atmosphere, the car's windows are transparent to the sun's visible radiation, which warms the upholstery and metal inside the car; these materials in turn re-emit some of their heat as infrared radiation. Glass, like carbon dioxide, absorbs some of this radiation and thus traps the heat, and the temperature inside the car rises.

    No, that is how a greenhouse works. The atmosphere is not a greenhouse. A greenhouse works by having a physical barrier such as glass, to prevent convection, whilst the atmosphere helps convection. Real greenhouses work by modulating convection (open the window and let convection let the heat out) and the atmosphere works by modulating radiation.

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  • 128. At 1:27pm on 01 Apr 2009, theskyisnotfalling wrote:

    Many summits 125

    Have you seen Roger and Me by Micheal Moore? Did you know that Moore actually met Roger, but just decided not to put in his film?

    "You can't fool all of the people all of the time" but in Moore's case you can always try and perhaps some people will be taken in by it, a bit like the scam that is Anthropogenic Global Warming, Climate Change is very real and very natural..

    How about reading this:

    I hope you give the good doctor Lindzen a fair hearing.

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  • 129. At 5:25pm on 01 Apr 2009, rossglory wrote:

    @cuckutoo/theskyisnotfalling - as i mentioned before there is a strong statistical link between knowledge of climate science and acceptance of AGW. Unfortunatele Drs Spencer and Lindzen are just statistical outliers and irrelevant to the mainstream scientific debate.

    That said, I would be far more inclined to debate the ideas of scientists if they did not hold fundamentalist religious views or have associations with far-right, libertarian think tanks. Call me old fashioned.....

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  • 130. At 5:25pm on 01 Apr 2009, PAWB46 wrote:

    manysummits @ 125:

    I certainly don't have time to answer your questions. I have examined the science and in my mind, I do not accept the IPCC view of AGW. I have studied the radiation, convection and vapourisation involved and do not believe CO2 can have a significant effect on the surface temperature, due to its high absorbtivity. I do not see any evidence for the positive feedback needed to cause the extra warming; and many others have shown this. The historical evidence shows that temperature leads CO2 changes, not the other way round.

    I am not sure what disinformation campaign you are refering to. Is it the false GISS and Hadley temperature data or the misleading sea level rise data or the icecaps and glaciers melting data or the polar bears are going extinct data?

    I agree, "You can't fool all of the people all of the time" and the falling temperature is resulting in increased numbers of people not being fooled by the global warming alarmism.

    Even the BBC said yesterday that WUWT was a good place to see for yourself what the true data (unbiased) were, not the IPCC findings.

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  • 131. At 5:36pm on 01 Apr 2009, CuckooToo wrote:

    @theskyisnotfalling #128

    in fairness to the alarmists, i don't think tv or films on either side of the fence are completely against being economical with the truth.

    Take ‘The Great Global Warming Swindle’, which included careful editing to change the meaning of some alarmist statements to seem as if the interviewee was actually a sceptic or Newsnight, doctoring Obama's speech to give a totally misleading slant on what he actually said (i'm still surprised that heads didn't roll for that one) or the BBC's climate wars that was careful to show an alarmist just as the commentator said "in the climate wars, there will be winners" and then showed a distorted picture of Lord Monkton and said "and there will be losers" (subtle, subliminal perhaps)

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  • 132. At 6:33pm on 01 Apr 2009, SamuelPickwick wrote:

    PAWB46 is correct that sceptical views are increasing.
    For example there is an article in the Times today,
    "Chill winds take heat off global warming",
    which refers in turn to an article about Freeman Dyson
    in the New York Times. Maybe in a few months or years
    even the BBC might allow a sceptic to express an opinion.

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  • 133. At 7:22pm on 01 Apr 2009, simon-swede wrote:

    I agree with rossglory @129 and earlier – the evidence really is that there is a strong statistical link between a greater knowledge of climate science and acceptance of AGW.

    Here are a couple of examples I posted in an earlier blog message for those who still doubt this is the case.

    In April 2008 the Statistical Assessment Service (STATS) at George Mason University in the United States released a survey of scientists. The researchers reported that over 80% of American climate scientists believe that human activity contributes to global warming. They also report that belief in human-induced warming has more than doubled since the last major survey of American climate scientists in 1991. The poll was conducted between 19 March 19 and 28 May 2007 by Harris Interactive through a mail survey of a random sample of 489 self-identified members of either the American Meteorological Society or the American Geophysical Union who are listed in the current edition of American Men and Women of Science.

    The STATS survey also compares how the attitudes have changed since a 1991 Gallup poll. Both surveys used the identical questions. The 1991 survey was addressed to 400 scientists drawn from membership lists of the American Meteorological Association and the American Geophysical Union. In 1991 only 60% of climate scientists believed that average global temperatures were up. The figure is 97% today. In 1991 41% of climate scientists agreed that then-current scientific evidence substantiates the occurrence of human-induced warming. That figure has risen to 74% today.

    A detailed description of the STATS paper may be found at the following page:

    In January 2009, Doran and Kendall Zimmerman reported the results of a study to assess the scientific consensus on climate change through an unbiased survey of a large and broad group of Earth scientists.

    A total of 90% considered that mean global temperatures have generally risen. And 82% considered human activity to be a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures. In general, as the level of active research and specialization in climate science increases, so does the level of agreement with the above. Over 90% of the most climate specialised scientists held these views.

    Doran and Zimmerman note that their results indicate a higher level of agreement amongst scientists that human activity is a significant contributing factor to climate change than amongst the general public. This suggests that if there is scepticism that it is more among the public than the experts.

    Doran and Zimmerman conclude that that the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely nonexistent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes.

    See - Doran, P. T. and Kendall Zimmerman (2009), M., Examining the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change, EOS, v 90 no 3, 20 January.

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  • 134. At 02:30am on 02 Apr 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To CuckooToo #126 & 127:

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought I answered you in a rather long post (#76 and # 88). I read up on Dr. Spencer, and found that he is an 'intelligent design' believer, and that he has dismissed the theory of evolution. I pointed out that there would be literally no point in my attempting to discuss his detailed views on physics, as I am not a physicist. Nor do I attempt to discuss the details of mass spectrometry, or of isotope studies, or of brain surgery with the specialist practioners.

    We are all of us interdependent in these days of super-specialization. The astronauts in the Saturn Five rocket depended on and believed in the expertise of the rocket propulsion experts, and if you have flown commercially, you depend utterly on the pilots. You learn whom to trust, and then you trust them. Obviously you and timjenvey and many others, do not trust the climate scientists yet. Thats's fine, I see no reason why you should at this early juncture. Your comments on the greenhouse in a car(#127), which Gilbert Plass used to help in the discussion, shows me more clearly than you might think that we are not on the same page science wise. This is not meant as a criticism, it is however true.

    I have always been phenomenally curious about the natural world, and I have found that science is one of the keys which help me understand. I believe in science, which in its essence is exploration and the search for new knowledge, and I believe I know enough to separate fact from fancy. The methodology is fairly rigid, though not as inflexible or objective as some would believe.

    You don't need science to tell you that the pollution in our cities isn't good for anyone, but you do need science if you want to discuss this in a scientific way. There are other ways to the truth, or to find the right way to do things, but the lingua franca of the modern world is science, in some circles anyway.

    I don't think science and religion are necessarily incompatible, far from it. I shall post an exerpt in a moment to highlight this. Religion is a touchy subject, and I approach it with caution. But it is too important to be left out of the discussion. I have found it a curious trait of human nature to concentrate on the seemingly trivial, while ignoring the really important issues, like religion.

    But I do think that disbelief in evolution as a viable concept in science is incompatible with someone like Dr. Roy Spencer's science training and work experience. I see a fundamental mental disconnect there, and I have personally seen this in my own past circle of acquaintance. A person ages, and death approaches. The reactions are varied.

    Here is another reaction, from another man, also a scientist, and a man I think highly of. He has, however, resolved his own yearnings and fears without dispensing with his scientific training. I see no disconnect here. I see a man dealing with the world with the cards he was dealt, as do we all.

    To 'timjenvey' - I think you may like this?

    "I had joined the Jesuits, at the ripe age of 37, with a career in planetary sciences safely behind me. I'd played at being a high-powered researcher at MIT and Harvard, and I had turned my back on it to become a professor at a small eastern college. Deciding, finally, on entering "religious life," ... The companionship of girlfriends was very different from the community life I now live; but in none of those relationships did I really feel my gifts were so valued, or my weaknesses so accepted and cared for..."

    "Some people are surprised that the Vatican supports an astronomical observatory..."

    "But, in fact, astronomy was part of the original seven subjects of the midieval universities, and those universities were themselves founded by the Church. The "father of geology" who first described and classified minerals was the Dominican monk known today as Albert the Great. The "father of astrophysics" who first classified stars by their spectra was a Jesuit, Angelo Secchi. The modern big bang theory originated with a twentieth century priest, Georges Lemaitre.

    The Vatican had a direct practical interest in supporting astronomical research when it reformed the calendar in 1582 - a work headed by the Jesuit mathematician Christopher Clavius. There's a prominent crater on the Moon named for him (as fans of the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey will recall) along with two dozen other craters named for Jesuit astronomers. No surprise; the fellow who drew the map and named the craters, the basis of all of our modern Moon maps, was himself the Jesuit priest Francesco Grimaldi. (He also invented the wave theory of light).

    And yet, this mass of religious tradition at the heart of our science is something many people completely miss."

    - Brother Guy Consolmagno, Ph.D., Society of Jesus
    Vatican Observatory, Castel Gandolfo
    - from "Brother Astronomer; Adventures of a Vatican Scientist" (2000).

    I hope this missive will be taken in the spirit in which is was given, an attempt to cast light in place of darkness, to dispel shadows.

    - Manysummits, Calgary -

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  • 135. At 05:47am on 02 Apr 2009, TJ wrote:

    To Manysummits #134:
    It’s late and my bed is calling so my reply briefly just hits a couple of your points:
    I'm curious as to how you bring practicing religions into the discussion. We were commenting on evolution, intelligent design and creation. Religion just clouds the issue so let’s put it to one side. Simplistically creation looks at the why, evolution looks at the how and intelligent design tries to fill the gaps. This is not the place to dive down further as it will detract from Richards question which I want my focus to be on arousing our minds to the impending global carbon tax.
    The other point you level is about cars getting hot. I agree with Cuckotoo comment. Greenhouses are all about controlling ventilation. I have built and operated several in my life. They also benefit from extra CO2. Doubling to trebling the base amount in the atmosphere is very beneficial on yield and quality. I gave some examples in a previous blog #59 Climate Tidy.
    Night night......

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  • 136. At 07:05am on 02 Apr 2009, simon-swede wrote:

    Climate and environmental issues are considered the second highest important political issue by Swedish voters, according to a recent opinion poll here. Only unemployment ranked higher in the list of concerns.

    In a national opinion poll 22% of Swedish voters ranked climate and environment as the most important political issue today. This made it the second most important issue identified by those polled. Its importance has increased markedly since a similar poll, conducted in 2006, where it ranked only sixth.

    The most important issue amongst voters was unemployment, with 34%. This issue has fallen slightly in priority amongst voters, as in 2006 this had 38%. Health care ranked third in 2009, at 16%.

    Surprisingly, given the current economic situation, economy ranked only sixth amongst concerns in 2009, at only 11%.

    The poll results were announced on 25 March 2009. The poll was conducted by Synnovate, a well-known opinion polling company in Sweden.

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  • 137. At 08:05am on 02 Apr 2009, simon-swede wrote:

    The US Environmental Protection Agency submitted a proposed finding about CO2 to the White House on 20 March, according to an article in today's issue of the journal Nature. This finding is widely thought to state that the greenhouse gases are pollutants endangering the public's health.

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  • 138. At 08:06am on 02 Apr 2009, CuckooToo wrote:


    Morning manysummits

    I feel that if you and I were to meet in real life, you woulod drag me to the top of a mountain and show me just how insignificant we humans really are. (OK, you would probably have to get me up there in a stretcher, but hey!) In return I would take you to the pub and buy you a beer, where we would argue constantly, in a good natured way.

    What surprises me is that you seem able to accept the word of a few scientists and politicians that AGW is real, but not even consider, for a single moment, that the scientists denying AGW could be possibly right just because one of them has a mistaken belief in creationism (there are many scientists who don't believe in evolution, includign Consolmango, I assume). I don't think a belief in creationism prevents anybody from understanding and showing how nature is more than capable of changing the world.

    I am also surprised that a "science magazine" can make a statement about the way the greenhouse effect works and get it so wrong. I must confess, I reached that point and stopped reading.

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  • 139. At 08:16am on 02 Apr 2009, simon-swede wrote:

    Meanwhile in the land of Oz...

    Australia produces less than 2% of the world's greenhouse gases, but its per-capita emissions are among the highest in the world and rising.
    Australia’s minister for climate change and water spoke on Monday at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, Arlington, Virginia, USA. She said that decisive action from Australia could help build momentum for the international climate change negotiations in Copenhagen. She stated that the best chance of an agreement at Copenhagen is for as many countries as possible to act, including Australia.

    This is an important continuation in the shift in attitude in the Australian government which started with the change in leadership following the elections. Australia has been one of the major players amongst industrialised countries holding out against climate action, along with the US and Canada.

    On 10 March 2009, the Australian government released draft legislation of an emissions-trading scheme that would begin on 1 July 2010. Under the proposal, the roughly 1,000 Australian companies that emit 25,000 or more tonnes of carbon dioxide per year or the equivalent in other greenhouse gases would be required to obtain permits to emit, which could be bought at government auctions or traded. The country's total emissions would be controlled by a cap intended to achieve reductions by 2020 of at least 5%, with a long-term goal of a 60% reduction below 2000 levels by 2050. This reductions target would rise up to 15% if other nations agree to similar targets. Two Australian Senate committees are due to deliver reports reviewing the proposed scheme in April and May, and the government hopes to have the legislation adopted by Parliament by June this year.

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  • 140. At 08:49am on 02 Apr 2009, rossglory wrote:

    @simon-swede - you're right, the shift of emphasis from national to per-capita emissions is important. I often hear the argument that it's pointless reducing emissions in the UK because of the size of China's (or India's etc). Of course national borders are pretty arbitrary, if China split into provinces each on would have far lower emissions than the UK - but increasing :o(

    But there also has to be some emphasis on population growth, maybe the 2t allowance should be fixed nationally on today's population so that any increase effectively reduces your nation's per capita allowance (and vice versa).

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  • 141. At 08:59am on 02 Apr 2009, rossglory wrote:

    @Cuckutoo - "What surprises me is that you seem able to accept the word of a few scientists"

    Pesonally I'll only accept what more than 90% of climate scientists say.....oh AGW is real, that's what I thought!

    Btw - I'm happy with the alarmist badge. If you guys are not alarmed by even a small possibility of a 6 degree rise then I envy you. But I think of myself as a rationalist, the real alarmists point to even more than 6 degrees (I think that unlikely.....but given the collective stupidity of humans, possible).

    "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe" - Albert Einstein.

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  • 142. At 09:21am on 02 Apr 2009, simon-swede wrote:

    Todays New York Times has a feature about ambitions by China to become one of the leading producers of hybrid and all-electric vehicles within three years, and making it the world leader in electric cars and buses after that. The goal has support from the highest levels of the Chinese government.

    China wants to raise its annual production capacity to 500,000 hybrid or all-electric cars and buses by the end of 2011, from 2,100 last year. By comparison, CSM Worldwide, a consulting firm that does forecasts for automakers, predicts that Japan and South Korea together will be producing 1.1 million hybrid or all-electric light vehicles by then and North America will be making 267,000.

    The state electricity grid has been ordered to set up electric car charging stations in Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin.

    The story notes that China is making something of a virtue of a liability. It is behind the United States, Japan and other countries when it comes to making petrol powered vehicles. By skipping the current technology, China hopes to get a jump start on the next generation.
    The article reports that China has two main intentions. First, to create a world-leading industry that will produce jobs and exports. The second is to reduce urban pollution and decrease its dependence on oil.

    As others have noted here and elsewhere, simply switching to electric vehicles may not necessarily do much to address air pollution or climate change. Ultimately this depends on what fuels and technologies are used to produce the electricity.

    Currently China gets 75% of its electricity from coal. Even so, it is reported that replacing a gasoline-powered car with a similar-size electric car in China would reduce greenhouse emissions by 19 percent, even without a change in the electricity supply mix. It would also reduce urban pollution, even if the overall emissions were relatively unaffected. This is because shifting the source of smog from car exhaust pipes to power plants, which are often located outside cities.

    Ultimately though, for the full benefit to be realised, a switch in electricity is needed. China has very ambitious plans for renewable energy and energy efficiency. A very good report about these energy issues in China was published by McKinsey and Co in January this year.

    The report is “China’s green revolution, prioritising technologies to achieve energy and environmental sustainability”. It can be found at:

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  • 143. At 09:38am on 02 Apr 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To rossglory and simon-swede:

    I always appreciate your posts, and I am reading them again in the middle of my night, so this blogging is having its effect on me - a positive effect I hope, even if it is leaving me sleep-deprived.

    You have both pointed out the numbers as regards scientific circle acceptance of AGW, and simon-swede is keeping us abreast of developments in the political sphere as well. Much appreciated.

    This 'carbon footprint' thread of Richard's has touched on something, hasn't it?

    And the progress in Sweden and Australia, in the United States with President Obama's new emissions targets, all these are positive developments to be sure, and welomed by many.

    But my own reading of the current world environmental crisis, of which climate change is just one, tells me we are going right to the wire this time, right to the verge of extinction as a race and as a species, and that these political gains must be only the beginning if we are to survive. I say this without a word of exaggeration, after a lifetime of study on this matter. That is of course just the opinion of one man, but I thought to make it crystal clear at this time.

    On the street, the feeling on climate change is simply put, and I will quote the opinion of a man I discussed this with today:

    "It doesn't affect their day to day".

    Which is untrue if one connects the dots between disparate developments in the world, events as disparate as the global financial crisis, the depletion of the world ocean's predatory fish, and the increasingly frightening findings on possible instabilities in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. But connecting the dots is that rarest of talents, isn't it?

    And all of this against a background of soaring human population, wars over oil and resources, an ongoing extinction rate two or three orders of magnitude above background, and an unknown factor, the religious fundamentalism of the times, which no one wants to touch, not even with a ten foot pole.

    My wife and I were just talking about this, and reviewing a new world atlas book (from the library) of world wonders. Will my son be able to travel as I have, "for to admire an' for to see", or will he spend his life in survival mode?

    Do you have an opinion on this which you would be willing to share?

    To CuckooToo and timjenvey:

    I hope our discussions have not generated ill-feeling. My overall views on matters I have just stated above. I have learned much in these blogs, not the least of which is my increasing love of writing.

    I agree with your summation CuckooToo - the mountain top and the pub.

    - Manysummits, Calgary -

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  • 144. At 10:11am on 02 Apr 2009, CuckooToo wrote:

    @rossglory #141

    Pesonally I'll only accept what more than 90% of climate scientists say.....oh AGW is real, that's what I thought!

    But it isn’t 90%. Schneider tells us that only 20% of the IPCC have “some dealings” with climate. By my reckoning that is around 500 people. Less than the number of people who attended the conference in New York.

    “No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong. “ - Albert Einstein

    Btw - I'm happy with the alarmist badge. If you guys are not alarmed by even a small possibility of a 6 degree rise then I envy you. But I think of myself as a rationalist, the real alarmists point to even more than 6 degrees (I think that unlikely.....but given the collective stupidity of humans, possible).

    Of course it alarms me! I think it would be a disaster for mankind, although not for the earth. The earth has seen it all before. I think if the warming trend continues we would be better off using our collective energy and intelligence adapting to a warmer world than wasting money trying to solve a problem that appears natural and may only exist in the “mind” of a computer.

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  • 145. At 10:53am on 02 Apr 2009, theskyisnotfalling wrote:

    The mention of statistics and scientists, or Consensus. How many so called consensuses have been shattered in the past. Quite a few I suspect.

    The studies that have been mentioned seemed to me may contain what I call loaded questions, such as do you believe Climate Change is real? - when a question like do you believe Anthropogenic Global Warming is real? would be more to the point. Statistics are not proof of good science. Do you have a link as to what questions have been asked of the scientists?

    The usual mud slinging of being funded by oil companies, right wing think tanks etc etc (sigh). How many billions do you think are spent on so called climate change research evry year?

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  • 146. At 11:19am on 02 Apr 2009, CuckooToo wrote:

    @theskyisnotfalling #145

    The pre-war consensus that eugenics was a good thing was most definitely shattered and must have been a real embarrassment to the likes of the UK's greatest ever Prime Minister, Winston Churchill and other celebrities and scientists supporting eugenics

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  • 147. At 11:25am on 02 Apr 2009, simon-swede wrote:

    To theskyisnotfalling @145

    You claim that the studies mentioned seemed to contain loaded questions, such as do you believe Climate Change is real. I’m not sure where you got that impression from; but it wasn’t from the studies to which I referred. The language was studiously neutral. Indeed they asked exactly the sort of question that you say they should have asked!

    For the STATS survey the language used was neutral. They were asked whether global average temperatures have increased during the past century; whether human induced warming is occurring; and whether currently available scientific evidence substantiates its occurrence.

    For the Doran and Kendall Zimmerman survey, the language is similarly neutral. Scientists were simply asked two questions. Have mean global temperatures risen compared to pre-1800s levels, and has human activity been a significant factor in changing mean global temperatures.

    I also did not say anything about a consensus. What I did point out was that there was a clear and large majority of scientists who believe that temperatures are rising, that human activities play a role. I also stated that the surveys show that the proportion of scientists and climate experts who hold these views is growing.

    These questions to scientists may be yielding answers you don’t like. But the questions are not loaded and the answers, while not showing a consensus, are showing a growing body of belief amongst scientists that induced climate change is real.

    You ask for the links. I did give the link to the STATS paper and a reference to the Doran & Kendall Zimmerman paper. The latter is a pdf file only, so I cannot give a direct link for that.

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  • 148. At 11:32am on 02 Apr 2009, simon-swede wrote:

    To CuckooToo @144

    You reject rossglory's assertion that the majority of climate scientists consider human induced global warming is real. I think that the evidence shows you to be mistaken on this point.

    What rossglory and I both are referring to are surveys carried out specifically to assess the views of scientists and specifically climate scientists. Have a look at my post @133, for example, if you want to look at what these surveys found.

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  • 149. At 11:46am on 02 Apr 2009, manysummits wrote:

    I just read the 'McKinsey' link posted by simon-swede in # 142.

    Very impressive. I am feeling like Johhny Appleseed in the refrain:

    "Get in the wagons rolling west, or you'll be left alone".

    Is this another 'Sputnik'? Here we are in North America, playing catch-up again.

    Bob Kennedy once said:

    "Some men see things as they are, and ask why - I see things that never were, and say, why not?"

    Have we not tarried in port long enough? Is it not time to set sail, and chart a new course into the future?

    We have a penchant for assassinating men like Bob Kennedy and his brother. Which is why I hope that this time the people pick up the ball, rather than leave it to the few. Naive no doubt, or is it?

    - Manysummits, Calgary -

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  • 150. At 12:54pm on 02 Apr 2009, theskyisnotfalling wrote:

    Simon Swede @147

    Quote: These questions to scientists may be yielding answers you don?t like.

    I am actually just interested in just getting to the truth of the matter, if somone can prove 100% AGW is a major problem, I will be the first to hold my hands and say fair enough and thank you.

    A link to the questions asked would still be appreciated please.


    Another case of where the consensus said no can be found in Puerperal fever. Interesting reading and the case of Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis.

    I firmly believe Scientists should always be questioning there work searching for better understanding & knowledge.

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  • 151. At 1:00pm on 02 Apr 2009, theskyisnotfalling wrote:

    Here's a link to a poll done by Eco America:

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  • 152. At 1:08pm on 02 Apr 2009, rossglory wrote:

    @cuckutoo/theskyisnotfallin - hmmmm, you guys are as slippery as eels :o)

    The reason the science presented by the likes of Dr Spencer and Lindzen are not debated, apart from on TV and in comment boards, is not because of the clear potential bias I've mentioned. It is because their views and papers are well known in the scientific community and they are not seen as valid. It is essential that there are committed scientists trying to find fault with the existing paradigm and be able to publish that information because there are still many uncertainties (but before you say aything - "is it us?" is not one of them!). Climate science is complicated and difficult to represent in a non-scientific forum. "Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler" - Albert Einstein.

    And consensus in scientific terms is not any kind of organised grouping of pro- and anti- AGWers. If the scientific evidence changes the consensus will change, it's not driven by a political or ethical impetus as you have with something like eugenics.

    Therefore it is rational, imo to accept AGW, be concerned and try to reduce our impact.

    @manysummits - this has been a pretty engaging blog that hasn't degenerated into personal insults. One day maybe we should all find a pub at the top of a mountain and meet up :o)

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  • 153. At 1:46pm on 02 Apr 2009, CuckooToo wrote:

    @simon-swede #148

    I was actually referring to the IPCC and I do not reject the surveys findings, although looking at the STATS/Harris survey, 489 earth and atmospheric scientists scientists were randomly chosen of which only 41% of the geophysicists and meteorologists in this survey said they were directly involved in any aspect of global climate science, which is roughly the same number of scientists who have "some dealings with climate science" according to Schneider.

    I would reiterate my point that pre-war eugenics was supported a consensus of scientists, celebrities and politicians.

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  • 154. At 2:27pm on 02 Apr 2009, simon-swede wrote:

    To theskyisnotfalling

    I gave the link to one (the STATS paper) and provided the reference to the other survey paper. I explained that I could not give the link to the Doran and Kendall Zimmerman paper as it is a pdf file.

    Here you are again:

    A detailed description of the STATS paper may be found at the following page:

    Doran, P. T. and Kendall Zimmerman (2009), M., Examining the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change, EOS, v 90 no 3, 20 January.

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  • 155. At 3:20pm on 02 Apr 2009, calcination wrote:

    Right, now I'm feeling better I'll start on the question of Co2 and Ir absorption.
    Cuckootoo- do you agree that various gases and vapours in the earths atmosphere absorb various wavelengths of electromagnetic energy?

    Yes/ no?

    If no, no discussion is possible.
    If yes, do you know what happens to that electromagnetic radiation after it is absorbed?
    yes/ no.

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  • 156. At 5:14pm on 02 Apr 2009, theskyisnotfalling wrote:

    Simon Swede

    Thank you, i have tried finding the questionaire myself and came across this:

    It at least gives a clue as to what was asked and the summary seems fair to me.

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  • 157. At 5:17pm on 02 Apr 2009, CuckooToo wrote:

    @calcination #155


    now i have answered your questions (seems the sceptics/deniers answer the questions but the alarmists don't, but that could be a little bias in me)

    What exactly is wrong with the ideas put forward by spencer and lindzen and could you point in the direction of reviewed papers to refute there ideas?

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  • 158. At 5:26pm on 02 Apr 2009, CuckooToo wrote:

    @rossglory #152

    That'll be the hair gel ;)

    The thing about Spencer, Lindzen, Jarowoski, Beck, McIntyre, etc, is the AGW crowd often dismiss theirs views, but don't prove them wrong. Have you read the work by Shaviv? It's really interesting - google him and read a little.

    I haven't mentioned this before, because I really don't know the answer and I would be very interested in everybody’s view.

    A survey was carried across the UK in 1978 of CO2, CH4 and N20 and recorded. In 2005 the same areas were surveyed. The soil had released huge amounts of CO2, in the region of 8%. This had apparently happened regardless of location i.e. sea level and mountain tops. Looking at the temperature rise over the period, things seem to tie in and looking at the rise in recorded CO2, things seemed to tie in, especially when you bear in mind that up to 1978 there was a dip in recorded temperatures.

    My understanding of the climate models is they only account for CO2 release in the topsoil, but this is incorrect because studies by the soil experts have shown that CO2 is released into the atmosphere from the soil up to 1m in depth. Now I know you will say that the CO2 release is a feedback due to the temperature rise, but we simply do not know that that is the case, because there are no records going back further than 1978 on this scale or at least none that I can find. Even if we accept that this is a feedback due to the temperature rise, then the huge rise in soil emissions accounts for much of the additional CO2 in the atmosphere without needing to point the finger at man.

    Smith at al suggest in “Climate change cannot be entirely responsible for soil carbon loss observed in England and Wales, 1978-2003 (2007):
    “We present results from modelling studies, which suggest that, at most, only about 10–20% of recently observed soil carbon losses in England and Wales could possibly be attributable to climate warming. Further, we present reasons why the actual losses of SOC from organic soils in England and Wales might be lower than those reported.”
    Smith et al calculate that it is physically implausible that observed temperature rises alone could account for more than 10-20% of this carbon loss and suggest four possible mechanisms that may account for the loss in agricultural soil carbon: reduced spreading of animal manure, increased removal of agricultural residues, deeper ploughing, and possible legacy effects from pre 1978 changes in land use. Smith et al also suggest some possible mechanisms to account for carbon losses from organic soils (such as peat bogs) such as lowering water table, recovery from acidification, enhanced atmospheric nitrogen deposition, or increased use of muirburn.

    This is further backed up by studies that show the CO2 release is happening globally rather than being mostly concentrated in the Northern Hemisphere.

    So the question is, are we really responsible for the additional CO2?

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  • 159. At 6:24pm on 02 Apr 2009, simon-swede wrote:

    CuckooToo @153

    You write that in the "STATS/Harris survey, 489 earth and atmospheric scientists scientists were randomly chosen of which only 41% of the geophysicists and meteorologists in this survey said they were directly involved in any aspect of global climate science".

    May I ask where you find that 41% particular figure, because honestly I don't see a breakdown like that anywhere in the paper for which I sent the link. If you found the information somewhere else, I'd be very grateful if you could post where it can be found.

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  • 160. At 6:45pm on 02 Apr 2009, CuckooToo wrote:

    looking at the first question:

    When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?

    you would have to seriously question the ability of modern scientists. Surely this should be closer to 100% saying risen? Unless we account for the scientists who recognise the poor siting, poor resiting and quality control of the weather stations

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  • 161. At 7:03pm on 02 Apr 2009, Bryn wrote:

    #158 Cuckootoo

    I Googled Shaviv but didn't find the specific reference (sorry - probably just not being perceptive). Could you provide it?

    Likewise a reference to the Smith paper? Thanks.

    Your comparison of the AGW consensus to pre-war eugenics seems a bit far fetched. That debate was primarily about what "should be" rather than what "is". Our debate about AGW is about a straightforward (though complex) question of fact. You rather stand out amongst the sceptits as being sceptical about the case for AGW but not of those that make it so I'm sure you'll appreciate the difference.

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  • 162. At 7:11pm on 02 Apr 2009, CuckooToo wrote:

    sorry, simon i'm normally pretty good at putting in links to back up what i am saying. it ust have been the long post on soil that put me off

    here you go:

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  • 163. At 7:20pm on 02 Apr 2009, simon-swede wrote:

    Thanks CuckooToo @162

    You are right, it does say that in the usnews article at the link you gave. But it doesn't say where they got that figure from. It isn't in the STATS/Harris report at the link I gave and the usnews journalist doesn't give a source. Strange.

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  • 164. At 7:31pm on 02 Apr 2009, CuckooToo wrote:

    no problem, Brynn-Hill:

    Smith paper (abstract)

    i am genuinely interested in the soil idea


    think so? the thing i find interesting is the whole scientist/celeb/politician involvement in eugenics, which seems to mirror the current situation with AGW

    I am sceptical of the case for AGW, but I am also unsure of the motives behind some of the people screaming that we are responsible. It seems like a good old fashioned left-wing view of the world, but at the same time, it seems illogical that somebody would create all this nonsense out of ideology, but then again wasn't that what eugenics was all about?

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  • 165. At 9:25pm on 02 Apr 2009, Bryn wrote:

    Thanks Cuckootoo. I'll look them up tomorrow. I can't get access to the article at present.

    Your final comment almost perfectly reflects my own view. Why on earth would apparently decent people choose to ignore such strong evidence for AGW or imagine that those generating that evidence are (in considerable numbers) either naive or dishonest? I can see that some sceptics have a particular itch to scratch, or a duplicitous agenda but - I couldn't put it better - what decent person would create all this nonsense out of ideology? I recognise that there are people with itches to scratch on both sides and there is certainly an uncomfortable left-wing agenda which is about attacking capitalism, rather than promoting a healthy environment - but that isn't me - I'm a good, old fashioned capitalist who owned and ran successful businesses for many years. I just try to be pragmatic and find the best way forward I can given the information at my disposal. If I have an irrational attatchment it is to Occams razor.

    I take your point about eugenics but I disagree with your conclusions. Despite what is occasionally written on this blog much of the evidence for AGW has been tested with a rigour which eugenics could never have withstood. Yes, there's some sloppy science, over-enthusiastic interpretation and there are some real, large areas of doubt but the concensus for AGW among scientists working in that specific field reflects the collective understanding of the evidence not, in my experience, a desire for a specific outcome.

    Can I return to an earlier point? you suggested, in a previous comment, that I was unreasonably fond of the precautionary principal. My impression is that you wish to see AGW demonstrated "beyond reasonable doubt" rather than "on the balance of probabilities". Since inaction on curbing GHG emissions is a positive choice could you explain why you think it is I, rather than you, who is unreasonably precautious (hey! a new word!)?

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  • 166. At 08:03am on 03 Apr 2009, CuckooToo wrote:

    @brynn_hill #165

    My impression is that you wish to see AGW demonstrated "beyond reasonable doubt" rather than "on the balance of probabilities".

    I don't think AGW has been tested beyond reasonable doubt and this is where we return to the old chestnuts, don't we?

    Historic temperatures - incorrect as demonstrated by Wegman and North
    Climate models - not (yet) capable of modelling much of the way the atmosphere actually works i.e clouds, soil etc
    CO2 causing runaway climate change - climate sensitivity over estimated / not fully understood

    I think there is reasonable doubt

    Wouldn't curbing GHG emissions be a positive choice, since maintaining the status quo isn't, but hey, I can live with being "unreasonably precautious"

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  • 167. At 08:26am on 03 Apr 2009, rossglory wrote:

    @cuckootoo - I agree with you that the AGW story has to some degree been hijacked by political motives and I think that is disgraceful. There is also huge mistrust of politicians which means they have lost virtually all their authority (in the UK politics have been poisoned by spin). Tax on carbon should be neutral (i.e. pay more for a big car less for a well insulated house etc), but like sceptics I tend to view any taxes as a new opprotunity to raise revenue.

    Re the science (which of course I promised not to debate!!). I recall Shaviv from The Great Global Warming Sceptic which was a dreadful programme. Just google its producer Martin Durkin if you're interested in political motivations, he was a revolutionary communist (very strange bunch). That said I've read about the solar and GCM theories and I don't believe they fit the evidence whereas anthropogenic CO2 does.

    Speaking of which, the question of soil is interesting and important. However, most of the 'new' CO2 has been fairly conclusively linked to 'old' carbon (14C/12C ratio).

    But I think the science question, for those of us not willing to study climatology 8 hours a day, has to be an appeal to authority if you're to make a rational decision. Your healthy scepticism of normal channels of information I agree with and I fervently hope you are right and the whole thing is an elaborate hoax or mass hysteria or group think or machiavellan politics.....but I really do think those are fairly far-fetched ideas. And the penalty for inaction if you are wrong is going to be very unpleasant.

    Meet you on Richard's next post :o)

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  • 168. At 09:15am on 03 Apr 2009, calcination wrote:

    Good, that is a start.

    As for Spencer and Lindzen, IIRC Lindzen has been floating his Iris idea for years, and has published a few papers suggesting it, but he is unable to get enough evidence together to convince the jury of his peers. Therefore there is not much to refute, its like a jury declaring someone not guilty because the prosecution have not been able to make their case well enough or put together enough evidence. So asking for refutations is a bit hard.

    Spencers website, I've had a look, there is much that makes no claim. As for his pacific decadal oscillation blaming, I note that here:
    his own graphs suggest that if a positive PDO causes warming and a negative cooling, then we seem to be on a one way train to heat death...
    But in reality, he ignores the solar effect (To blame for 40% of warming since about 1860 or so), the known cooling effect of aerosols (To blame for some of the cooling in the 50's and 60's).
    The next problem you have is that Spencer appears to accept that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. Do you?

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  • 169. At 09:21am on 03 Apr 2009, calcination wrote:

    Cuckootoo at #166- once again you obfuscate. Wegman did not demonstrate that historical temperature reconstructions were incorrect. He pointed out a lack of statistical skill, which when applied as requested showed effectively no change in the record.
    Climate models do model how much of the climate works. Clouds are a tricky matter, but the simple fact is that enough is known and modelled to be able to make reasonable forecasts, and they have been right enough so far.

    As for the politics, I've seen right wingers argue for carbon trading, agreeing about the science with the lefties who would prefer a carbon tax. Meanwhile, all those communist organisations such as insurance companies are taking climate change seriously in how they look at the dangers they face this century. In fact your conflation of eugenics with climate change scientists shows a complete disregard for both the facts, and a desperate desire to smear your percieved enemies.

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  • 170. At 09:29am on 03 Apr 2009, calcination wrote:

    Regarding soil carbon, why do you not have any numbers? The numbers would be rather important. The IPCC chapter 7 says:

    "Emissions of CO2 (Figure 1a) from fossil fuel combustion,
    with contributions from cement manufacture, are responsible
    for more than 75% of the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration
    since pre-industrial times. The remainder of the increase
    comes from land use changes dominated by deforestation (and
    associated biomass burning) with contributions from changing
    agricultural practices. All these increases are caused by human
    activity. The natural carbon cycle cannot explain the observed
    atmospheric increase of 3.2 to 4.1 GtC yr–1 in the form of CO2
    over the last 25 years. (One GtC equals 1015 grams of carbon,
    i.e., one billion tonnes.)
    Natural processes such as photosynthesis, respiration, decay
    and sea surface gas exchange lead to massive exchanges, sources
    and sinks of CO2 between the land and atmosphere (estimated at
    ~120 GtC yr–1) and the ocean and atmosphere (estimated at ~90
    GtC yr–1; see figure 7.3). The natural sinks of carbon produce
    a small net uptake of CO2 of approximately 3.3 GtC yr–1 over
    the last 15 years, partially offsetting the human-caused emissions.
    Were it not for the natural sinks taking up nearly half the
    human-produced CO2 over the past 15 years, atmospheric concentrations
    would have grown even more dramatically."

    Moreover, you will see that the IPCC blames agricultural changes and land use changes for some of the CO2, which of course would fit in precisely with the abstract of that paper that you quoted. Farming has changed a fair bit in even the last 30 years, let alone last 60 or 70, and they are likely to be affecting the carbon budget.

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  • 171. At 11:05am on 03 Apr 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To calcination: (#'s 168/169/170)

    Way to go 'calcination' !

    Good stuff- meet you on the new blog.

    - Manysummits -

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  • 172. At 2:15pm on 03 Apr 2009, U13900240 wrote:

    "Sorry, but CO2 is a harmless naturally occurring aerial plant food gas."

    Uh, wrong.

    And plants are not pure carbon. They need access to water for a start. So how is more CO2 going to mean the deserts won't matter any more, even though they're growing?

    RADIUM is a natural gas. Radioactive and will kill you.

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  • 173. At 3:10pm on 03 Apr 2009, Bryn wrote:

    #164 Cuckootoo (please everyone excuse an extended and rather boring post)

    The Smith et al paper should be read as a reply to an earlier paper by Bellamy (no not that Bellamy) et al (Bellamy PH et al 2005 Carbon losses from all soils across England and Wales 1978–2003. Nature, 437, 245–248). There is another paper which cites Smith et al and which you may find of interest (Hopkins et al Global Change Biology Volume 13, Issue 12 , Pages 2605 - 2609).

    Bellamy et al suggest large carbon losses from UK soils between 1978 and 2003 are caused by warming. Smith et al say that even numerical models which tend to emphasise carbon losses as CO2 don't predict more than 20% of this loss. They suggest both that other causes of loss are likely to be involved and that Bellamy et al have got their sums wrong (ie that there hasn't been such a significant soil carbon loss). The Hopkins et al paper adds that, for managed grassland soils in England there has been no net carbon loss in the last few decades, despite significant warming.

    A few points:

    1) here is a refutation of evidence for a particular source of CO2 as a feedback to (A)GW which is based, very largely, on numerical models. Thus those who are sceptical of numerical AGW modelling must appreciate that modelling cuts both ways. Here it has been well used in a way from which AGW sceptics may draw support - though the relevance of these studies to global AGW debate is not clear. My own experience is that such models are immensely valuable, as long as their limitations are understood and acknowledged, and that they are used honestly and openly as here

    2) here are a group of experienced scientists debating a significant AGW issue in an open forum - it's a great example of how the system works and why the concerns of sceptics about the manipulation of the scientific debate by pro-AGW vested interests is misplaced. Basically, if you get your science wrong your colleagues are going to look for evidence to knobble you. You said in an earlier post, I think, that science tends to reinforce existing ideas. Certainly, there is a tendency to follow trends and to see things as others see them - but there is an equally strong streak of iconoclasm which is written into good experimental practice in the form of "disproving the null hypothesis" - you validate an idea by disproving its opposite - it's a stronger test .

    3) there are fundamental issues of fact (eg is the soil carbon stock increasing or decreasing and why?) which are still being resolved, even in places where we have good, long-term data like the UK.

    Now to the substance - the argument here is about feedbacks to climate change rather than the change itself (or its initial drivers). Thus it does not tell us about (A)GW but rather about the degree to which one influence (soil C dynamics) in one environment feeds-back positively or negatively. It concludes that we don’t really know but that there seems to be an approximate balance between carbon added (from biomass) and lost (to crops taken off the land, the atmosphere and groundwater). On the key question of CO2 and CH4 production from organic soil and peat decay the papers don’t really help. Smith et al seem right to be critical of Bellamy et al’s data here but I think their own approach has a flaw – shallow organic soils may well be loosing less carbon than Bellamy et al suggest because of dilution with deeper mineral matter but deeper peats will appear, in the same data, to have lost no carbon (they start off with 95% organic matter in the top 15cm and they finish with the same amount – Bellamy et al don’t tell us anything about how much thinner these peats have got and thus how much carbon was really lost because their approach doesn’t measure this for peats). This matters because our current conjecture is that loss of organic matter as CO2 and CH4 may be a key positive GHG feedback. There’s a lot of deep, organic soil out there in northern latitudes (somewhere north of manysummits) which could easily pass from stable to decaying – and that’s a lot of GHG waiting to bubble out.

    Conclusion? This particular bit of sky is not falling. And, given the possibility that management might turn such UK soils into net carbon sinks, it may actually be rising. We haven’t, however, learned much about the organic soil issue and that’s the killer. The chances are, given the low net productivity of peats, that they’ll be big net GHG emitters – perhaps somebody can fish us out some data? I’ve got work to do!

    rossglory is quite right about the C12/C14 old carbon stuff but of course much of the peat carbon is fairly old so the picture will get complicated.

    #166 yes, there is certainly reasonable doubt (though a lot less doubt on the side of AGW I would say). Thus, since action and inaction both have effects both need to be subject to the same test. So why do think doubt in one is more important than doubt in the other? Precaution has costs, either way.

    You can all wake up now.

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  • 174. At 11:08am on 05 Apr 2009, CuckooToo wrote:

    @calcination #168

    The next problem you have is that Spencer appears to accept that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. Do you?

    yes, it's what helps keeps us warm, along with water vapour etc and stops the earth from being too cold to support life on earth. The earths temperature would be around -33C if it wasn't for the greenhouse gases. Most of the greenhouse effect is caused by water vapor with about 1-2 degrees of our current empirically-measured temperature can be attributed to carbon dioxide. So Hooray! for CO2

    Wegman did not demonstrate that historical temperature reconstructions were incorrect. He pointed out a lack of statistical skill, which when applied as requested showed effectively no change in the record.

    Accepted, bad wording on my part. Wegman and North, however, concluded that recorded temperatures at the end of the 20th century were not unprecedented in 1000 years, but I'm guessing you already know this.


    why do you not have any numbers?

    because i am still looking at the question and don't know the answer. It was a genuine request for information. I do know the climate models only take into account the topsoil and not the full 1m of earth that emits CO2 into the atmosphere, caused by such things as biota, tillage etc. The point here is UK studies have shown this rise in CO2 emissions from the soil is happening from shore level to mountain top. It probably is a feedback from rising temperatures, but there is no evidence that I could find to point in either direction.

    @Brynn_Hill #173

    Thus those who are sceptical of numerical AGW modelling must appreciate that modelling cuts both ways.


    And thanks for filling in this information, this is clearly one area where there is much work to be done. I will return to this when I have done a little more digging (pun intended)

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