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Science and politics - a tale of two meetings

Richard Black | 07:55 UK time, Tuesday, 12 April 2011

More than 8,000km separate Vienna and Bangkok.

That's roughly the distance that appeared to be separating the minds of people attending very different meetings that took place in the two capitals last week.

In between bites of Sachertorte, scientists unveiled their latest research in many disciplines relating to the Earth - including climate change - at the European Geosciences Union (EGU) annual meeting.

Betwixt pad thai and green curry, at this year's first session of preparatory talks within the UN climate convention (UNFCCC), delegates from the vast majority of the world's governments attempted to find a political route simultaneously acceptable to their masters and appropriate to the level of scientific concern.

Protesting monks in Bangkok

 

Reporting both accurately is a tough task, for different reasons.

The EGU, which I attended, is formed of multiple parallel sessions at which new research is presented - there are so many that keeping track of everything is an impossible task.

The UNFCCC, on the other hand, is a tangled political web that's pretty opaque even if you are present - which clearly, on this occasion, I wasn't.

Those caveats given, here's my brief summary of the two meetings as they relate to climate change.

Vienna saw lots of talk about ice, particularly the Arctic kind... and not much of it was optimistic.

We saw new models of how quickly Arctic sea ice will melt, and new attempts to understand key mechanisms affecting the Greenland ice sheet.

You may have read about Wieslaw Maslowski's renewed projections that summers will be free of sea ice within this decade.

Not all modellers agree with that timescale... even so, the fact that it's on the agenda indicates the speed of changes in this most totemic of regions.

I didn't have time to report on the Greenland modelling, but one of the packed presentations I attended saw a study indicating that the ice sheet could well reach a tipping point of melting at a global average temperature rise of only 1.5C (2.7F) from pre-industrial times.

We are about halfway there already.

I also dipped into sessions on methane releases from around the Arctic.

This is a really tough issue to research, because historical records aren't good.

So when ships monitor methane bubbling up from around Svalbard, for example, and wonder how important it is, there's no database that you can open to compare present day releases against those from half a century ago.

Nevertheless, we heard that the water in some of these locations has warmed by one or two Celsius in the last few decades, and scientists presented simulations indicating how that may be affecting methane emissions.

Hard data appeared in short supply - for the reasons I've given, plus the fact that this sort of research is hard and expensive.

Polar bear

 

But I was accosted by one scientist who said his initial calculations indicate methane release could be serious enough to amplify human-induced warming 40-fold.

OK... we're talking here about non-peer-reviewed science, for the most part - the rituals and rhythms of science mean conference presentations are habitually of non-published material.

Even so, I trust this little tour d'horizon has given you a flavour of discussions and debates at what is a purely scientific gathering, with no politics and very small amounts of hype.

Take a trans-continental jet over to Bangkok, meanwhile, and we see politics and science trading places.

Those of you familiar with the UN process will know that for the last few years the official negotiations have been run along two parallel tracks - one dealing with the Kyoto Protocol, the other (named Long-term Co-operative Action, or LCA) with everything else.

This was a week-long meeting, and the LCA group did not agree its agenda until the Thursday evening.

From that, you might judge that not much was accomplished; and from what I've been hearing, you'd be absolutely right.

There are now less than two years until the Kyoto Protocol's first commitment period - in other words, its first set of targets for reducing emissions - comes to an end.

This is why developing countries are vehement in their assertion that their richer cousins need to get on with agreeing a new set of targets very soon.

Business groups at the Bangkok meeting said the same thing. After all, if you were making investment decisions that might be financially affected by carbon targets, you'd want to know as far as possible in advance what those targets are going to be.

Tuvalu and others demanded that rich countries should either say right now that they are going to agree further emission cuts under the Kyoto Protocol, or leave the room.

This was aimed partially at Japan, Russia and Canada, which have said they won't entertain the prospect. But it was also presumably intended to draw out the final positions of those that have said they might, such as the EU, Australia and New Zealand.

The EU then countered that they couldn't say yes or no until technical details of what a second commitment period might look like had been nailed down.

And so the loop played round.

The US, meanwhile, stuck to two positions that have become very familiar over the last year:

  • that it is pledging to cut emissions by as much as other developed nations, but only if you count from a baseline of 2005 rather than 1990 which just about everyone else uses
  • that it will not do more without "symmetry"- i.e. unless China pledges pretty much the same thing.

At this point in the cycle of talks, looking back to the last big summit (Cancun, in this case) and forward to the next one (Durban), there's often a deal of friction.

Later on in the year, countries that want major progress on fundamental issues are often more or less forced to accept their demands won't be met, and in the ensuing "something or nothing" situation, to work alongside those whom at root they consider recalcitrant.

So the political path may yet smooth out as the year progresses.

But if the scientific picture is getting worse, as soundings at the EGU would indicate... what then?

Do the politics reflect the new urgency that science appears to be generating?

And if not, can they be reformed so they do - especially given the huge obstacles that materialise now, when attempting to agree measures that are acknowledged as inadequate by just about every party in the climate convention?

 

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    @Richard black

    Vienna saw lots of talk about ice, particularly the Arctic kind... and not much of it was optimistic.

    Richard,

    New work with Eric Steig as coresponding author suggests Western Antarctic ice melt is natural (if you ignore the obligatory nod to "AGW" in the press release):

    West Antarctic warming triggered by warmer sea surface in tropical Pacific

    http://www.washington.edu/news/articles/west-antarctic-warming-triggered-by-warmer-sea-surface-in-tropical-pacific

    /Mango

    I don't deny climate change, I know climate changes

  • Comment number 2.

    Richard, well done for continuing to warn the public about the dangers of climate change, many thought that the BBC had gone soft on this issue and would start pandering to the bloke down the pub mentality. Good to see that you have finally done something about the dissenters who for so long have taken over your blog. By producing more information / instructional articles without the option to comment and by producing considerably less blogs with the option to comment you have denied these disagreeable people the opportunity to question the wisdom of our greatest scientific minds. WendyRainbow hinted at such a change before Christmas, perhaps WendyRainbow really is Richard Black?

  • Comment number 3.

    2. At 09:57am 12th Apr 2011, Wolfiewoods

    As comments go, that is one to treasure. Not too sure who will more, mind.

    Hadn't sussed the rationale behind the move to broadcast only mode for such a long time, especially over a period with much worth discussing, but the one suggested is an interesting one.

  • Comment number 4.

    Ironic really, that the US complains about China and "symmetry" almost to the week when China's "Green energy" output overtook that of the USA and EU combined

  • Comment number 5.

    @Richard-

    I like that since the peer reviewed science is being picked apart, you are now relying on unsubmitted and incomplete science to feed your position. Brilliant.

    "Hard data appeared in short supply - for the reasons I've given, plus the fact that this sort of research is hard and expensive."

    Which means that any conclusions based off it are entirely pointless.

    Richard, you maintain that the message from the science is getting worse and worse- this as ever for you, is half the story. The 'science' from those so deep in the theory that they can't get out is getting louder and louder, but many other streams of research are showing their initial claims are, well lets say unfounded to be kind- mango's post #1 being a prime example.

    Would you care to respond to mango's point richard or are you happy just cherry picking news/stories that fit your agenda?

    The hysteria is finally starting to die down over cAGW and we're almost at the great position of being able to re-evaluate the science from scratch and find out what is ACTUALLY happening (note i do not preclude cAGW- it just has not been demonstrated, in the slightest).

    I am really looking forward to AR5 :-)

  • Comment number 6.

    Hi Mango and LabMunkey


    There's a difference between increasing global heat and temps and the way they are distributed.

    So the reason the West Anatrctic in particular is warming faster than anywhere else will be to do with the way increased global heating is distributed - which will be by some kind of natural process.

    The increased global heating itself - certainly over the past few decades - is largely to do with the anthropogenic greenhouse effect

    Cheers

    Paul
    Paul

  • Comment number 7.

    Wolfiewoods @#2

    No I am not really Richard Black, I did receive a suggestion that something like this would happen, newspapers tell the masses what they want to here but serious journalists such as Richard Black have taken up the challenge of shaping a better world, it is more than just a job to such people. How can Richard educate and guide the people if the BBC is constantly being used by some blogers to sow doubt in the minds of ordinary people and to discredit our scientists. More broadcast only content please.

  • Comment number 8.

    @MangoChutney

    The article makes absolutely no suggestion that the warming in the West Antarctic is natural, it merely states that researchers found:

    "a strong relationship between central Pacific sea-surface readings and Antarctic temperatures" which "could account for half to all of the observed winter temperature changes in West Antarctica".

    This merely establishes a statistically significant link in temperatures between two regions, it does not attempt to blame Antarctic warming on natural or man-made causes.

  • Comment number 9.

    The previous thread was closed for some reason, but thanks for the nice picture of a polar bear.

    I see the Fukushima crisis is now rated at 7 as Chernobyl, despite the BBC giving a platform to endless apparently vested-interest experts, to tell us there was no prospect whatsoever of that outcome.

    However, I find the descriptions here of noodles etc. most comforting. Thanks.

  • Comment number 10.

    @ paul #6-

    that's actually an interesting point and i agree that it's entirely possible that the increased warming globally is probably playing a role in the increased peninsular warming (though i do not know enough about the various local cycles and currents to say for certain).

    You STILL however have the problem of attribution- just because the worlds warming doesn't mean it's CO2.

  • Comment number 11.

    '7. At 11:29am 12th Apr 2011, WendyRainbow
    More broadcast only content please.'


    At risk of spoiling what's shaping up to be a fascinating exchange, and insight into how free speech gets used, and abused, might one chip in and suggest that handing over the controls to those who control the edit suites alone might be a smidge premature?

  • Comment number 12.

    @Paul Butler #6 & Joe #8

    Paul / Joe, the new paper suggests the reason for the Antarctic ice melt is due to a warming oceans, not atmosphere. How much global warming caused by mans emissions of CO2 would it take to warm the ocean by 1C? Think about it. There isn't enough energy in "AGW" to raise the oceans anywhere near warm enough to cause the Western Peninsular to melt - add in the line of volcanoes in the area and I think it's pretty clear this is natural.

    /Mango

    I don't deny climate change, I know climate changes

  • Comment number 13.

    The problem here is that this "science" is conjectural, and model based - upon models which have a dismal record over thirty years, and done by those whose funding is dependant upon their role in the prevention of climate change rather than truly observational and unbiased science.

    What climategate revealed indisputibly was the unscientific culture of Climate Science as practised in the CRU. These scientists were not thinking as objective observers of data - even if the evidence on data manipulation remained unproven. The underlying culture had an evangelical quality and a belief that CO2 was causing climate change and that this belief dictated their interpretation of data and the set up of predictive models.

    The CRU model has consistently overshot its estimations on temperature rise to such a degree that even 2010 a warm year by anyone's standards was 0.2 degrees less than the lower estimate of the 1990's models. This year is significantly cooler already. The entire warming of the last 50 lears remains less than the annual variations between one year and the next - therefore at present the warming is not of real significance.

    AGW remains purely theoretical. Logically if we double CO2 then we increase temperatures by 0.8 to 1.2 degrees. Observations appear to show some modest rise in temperatures over the last 120 years - and that this increased dramatically during the 1980's but returned to an earlier rate of rise in the last twenty years while the rate of emissions of CO2 rose dramatically.

    In other words no actual correlation of CO2 and temperature exists in observed data. Logic however tells us that there must be some correlation as CO2 has greenhouse qualities and we should adopt some kind of precautionary principle.

    As for the positive feedbacks which lead to alarmist predictions of vast rises in temperatures, little to no evidence of these has again ever been shown.

    Sea level rises have been fairly consistent since we began measuring them, although significantly the rate of increase has slowed over last ten years, ice melt continues in the Arctic, although much of this is skewed by the particular melting of the Greenland ice sheet. Antarctic ice cover, however continues to increase in range and scope.

    To conclude - we need caution - and scepticism on all of this. Carbon's impact appears to have been deliberately overstated by particular groups of scientists with either funding, reputation of belief systems to protect. Scepticism has been hijacked by rabid conspiracy theorists, and illogical deniers

  • Comment number 14.

    @ Labmunkey

    Time for a quick science lesson I think...

    Carbon Dioxide is a greenhouse gas - to put it as simply as possible this means that the bonds between the carbon atom and the two oxygen atoms absorb infra-red radiation (primarily from the sun) and this increase the internal energy (i.e., temperature) of the molecule. There are other greenhouse gases such as methane etc., but Carbon Dioxide is the main one.

    Now these are not necessarily a bad thing - for example they are the reason that our planet isn't a ball of ice keeping the mean surface temperature at ~15 degrees C.

    By pumping more Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere we therefore increase the efficacy of this 'greenhouse effect'. Now in reality it's a bit more complicated than that - there is coupleing between various factors such as cloud cover etc., but I don't understand how people can fail to grasp the simple premise that more Carbon Dioxide = a more effective greenhouse effect = higher average temperatures?

  • Comment number 15.

    'Time for a quick science lesson I think... other greenhouse gases such as methane etc., but Carbon Dioxide is the main one.'

    Always up for having education enhanced, and there are many here I have no doubt have such things to ten decimal places at their fingertips, but maybe some parameters for such a comparative definition might help?

  • Comment number 16.

    @Jasocol

    Wow, thanks for the lesson! I take back everything I have ever said about AGW.

    If only I'd understood there was no such thing as climate sensitivity and CO2's logarithmic effect on it's ability to raise temperature significantly

    /Mango

    I don't deny climate change, I know climate changes

  • Comment number 17.

    Mango #12

    Clearly most of the deeper ocean - which is most of the volume you require to get the full effect of your statement

    How much global warming caused by mans emissions of CO2 would it take to warm the ocean by 1C?

    does not interact with the atmosphere on short or multidecadal timescales, so when we talk about ocean warming in response to atmospheric warming due to greenhouse gases, we're really only referring to the top layer.

  • Comment number 18.

    @ jasocol.

    I can't tell if you're being facitious here or not- it's either that or you're missing the point by such a spectacular mark for it to be embarrassing (not even comical).

    I have not ever stated that co2 is not a ghg.
    I have not ever stated that it can not (and may not) raise temperatures.

    All i disagree with is the degree of the warming, the feedbacks and the quality of the data/methods/conclusions that these are based on.

    Nice try though!

  • Comment number 19.

    also @ joscol # 14.

    "There are other greenhouse gases such as methane etc., but Carbon Dioxide is the main one"

    I'd be paying more attention to water if i were you.

  • Comment number 20.

    @ 17- Paul, you're on thin ice there, that argument is a bit tenuous.

  • Comment number 21.

    @Mango #12

    Just to be clear, the paper argues that increased ocean surface temperatures in the Pacific are correlated with a warmer climate on the West Antarctic Peninsula, due to warm air travelling from the Pacific to the Antarctic. This isn't about warming the whole ocean by 1C, only the surface layer has to be warmed to have dramatic effects on atmospheric circulation.

    The question everyone is arguing over is what caused the Pacific sea surface temperature to rise in the first place.

    Oceans in general are warmed by incoming solar radiation and the atmosphere. Geothermal energy does heat the oceans, but only at extreme depths - water here has an average residence time of hundreds of years and so does not contribute to surface temperatures. In any case volcanic activity contributes roughly 1000 times less energy to the oceans as solar/atmospheric sources. (see http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/01/whats-up-with-volcanoes-under-arctic-sea-ice/%29

    The greater proportion of heat flux to the oceans is from the sun. Solar irradiance changes with the solar cycle, but it is a measurable quantity and so its effect can ruled out in explaining warming. So to explain the warming the atmosphere must be retaining more heat than usual - i.e. increased greenhouse effect.

  • Comment number 22.

    @ joscol (sorry to have a go, just being pedantic really!) CO2 is actually not the 'main' greenhouse gas as you like to say. water vapour has a larger effect due to its massive contribution to atmospheric gases. methane has a much stronger greenhouse effect than either water or CO2. the reason people go on about CO2 is because it is the only one that is easy to control due to human emissions.

    if I were you I'd be more worried about McDonald's and all those cows burping out methane than cars pumping out CO2. wanna stop AWG (if you believe it exists)? stop eating meat. done.

  • Comment number 23.

    LabMunkey @20


    @ 17- Paul, you're on thin ice there, that argument is a bit tenuous.


    Really? Do tell.

    Remember I'm not saying no heat escapes to the deep ocean - in fact that may be where some of "Trenberth's travesty" has gone.

    But it must be pretty obvious that a large amount of the warming is effective at the ocean-atmosphere interface and is distributed by activity there.

    You'd find it hard to argue that heat is distributed through the bulk of the ocean at any significant rate

  • Comment number 24.

    @ paul # 23- ah i've mislead you here it seems as that's not quite what i was getting at- my bad- i don't have time to explain now- but i'll provide a 'better' post that's more clear tomorrow.

  • Comment number 25.

    Hello Richard. Nice to see your blog back. Thank you for the links at the top of the page. Our planet responded quite dramatically to the Japanese Earthquakes. Will there be other knock-on effects including an acceleration of polar ice melting? Don't you get the feeling that we all have been over-heavily reliant on the idea that natural events are predictable and manageable?
    I notice that there are many pointy-fingers-of-blame going on out there in blogland. The planet is dynamic and our human activity is having an impact on that dynamism. Are we entirely to blame for everything, or is that a delusion based on a comforting idea, that if we change the planet will behave?

  • Comment number 26.

    Nice to see you back Richard.

    @WW #2
    I concur.

    @MCUK #12
    "There isn't enough energy in "AGW" to raise the oceans anywhere near warm enough to cause the Western Peninsular to melt".

    There's plenty of energy in the big bright star, that's not too far away though. It just takes time and a little encouragement from us.

  • Comment number 27.

    18. At 14:37pm 12th Apr 2011, LabMunkey wrote:

    "I can't tell if you're being facitious here or not- it's either that or you're missing the point by such a spectacular mark for it to be embarrassing (not even comical).

    I have not ever stated that co2 is not a ghg.
    I have not ever stated that it can not (and may not) raise temperatures.

    All i disagree with is the degree of the warming, the feedbacks and the quality of the data/methods/conclusions that these are based on.

    Nice try though!"

    Poor LabMunkey doesn't seem to remember his posts where he questioned whether CO2 had the same physical characteristics in the lab as in the atmosphere. Given that LabMunkey now admits that global warming is happening, what mechanisms does he propose might be causing it other than an increase in CO2 and other greenhouse gasses humans have been injecting into the atmosphere.

    1. At 08:37am 12th Apr 2011, MangoChutneyUKOK will concede any point as long as acknowledging the point doesn't imply the necessity of coordinated government action.

  • Comment number 28.

    Comments on the Japanese nuclear incident were predicable -- one wonders if the nuclear boosters will feel the same way if Tokyo has to be abandon?

  • Comment number 29.

    Pity the article on shale gas doesn't have a blog tacked on.

    It seems to me that part of the zeal of the anti-fossil fuel sector in parts of the media is informed by the notion, that if we move away from this, then society's energy supply will not be in the hands of roughly-spoken men with tattoos, given to militant trade union membership. The climate change argument is a convenient fig-leaf to hide this agenda for such types.

    In other words, we will have nuclear, whatever the cost to the environment and our children's health, if that is a sure way of preventing shale gas workers, miners or whoever making a stand for the conditions of the average working man and woman.

  • Comment number 30.

    Well that argument at comment #1 didn't last long...odd how readily some papers are embraced...

  • Comment number 31.

    Well... more of the same from Richard. At least he didn't expand his already gigantic carbon footprint with another flight to Bangkok.

    Meanwhile, the rot at the core of the AGW project just gets worse:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/04/09/the-pre-climategate-issue-that-is-the-issue/

    Why are so many AGW 'scientists' and promoters so dishonest?

  • Comment number 32.

    31. At 02:04am 13th Apr 2011, CanadianRockies

    Interesting that CanadianRockies has no concerns about the bug bucks that go to deniers via organizations funded by the Koch brothers and their ilk. People don't go into the natural sciences to make money. It is ironic that real scientists are accused of grubbing for money by those who are most interested in that pursuit themselves -- Corporate Fossil Fuel interests and their hanger's on..

  • Comment number 33.

    HungeryWalleye #32 wrote:

    "People don't go into the natural sciences to make money."

    That would make the profession of scientists uniquely saintly and above suspicion and never-to-be-questioned, wouldn't it?

    Have you ever in your life actually met a real-life scientist? The kind that goes to school, then college, then gets a job, struggles to pay a mortgage, bring up children, etc.?

    Shamanism lives -- in the West, it takes the form of scientist-worship. Pretty nauseating really.

  • Comment number 34.

    ChangEngland @#26

    When you said that you concur with Wolfiewoods post @#2, were you saying that you prefer that BBC climate articles should not have the option to comment?

  • Comment number 35.

    @ wally #27
    "Poor LabMunkey doesn't seem to remember his posts where he questioned whether CO2 had the same physical characteristics in the lab as in the atmosphere"

    I'm afraid you'll have to link that post as i've never said anything of the sort. What i ACTUALLY said was that you cannot extrapolate the effects of CO2 in a closed tightly controlled system, to that of a large, uncontrolled CHAOTIC system. This is not the same thing as what you are implying.

    There is a spectacularly important distinction here, which you rather unsuprisingly, seem to have missed. I suggest you go and re-look at what i actually said before you shoot off next time, lest you have to remove both feet.

    @ Paul- apologies for not responding fully to you yesterday, it was a manic day.

    Re your # 23 (and my subsequent # 24) in responce to my #20 which in turn was in responce to your # 17 (and so on :-) ).

    I was trying to say that although you are correct that short term climatic drivers (in this case atmospheric temp) can affect surface water, it is not as clear cut as you think.

    It comes down to mass related energy; the amount of energy in the atmosphere that is required to raise the temperature of the oceans by 1 degree is simply staggering- there is not enough energy in the atmosphere to do this (which is why ocean temps track solar output).

    Now, atmospheric temps can slow down the cooling and act as a partial insulator, but the primary driver for oceanic temp is and always will be the sun (directly- not through atmospheric conduction).

    Apologies for not being clearer (and for being a little flippant to boot).

  • Comment number 36.

    Here is a 2005 prediction

    50m environmental refugees by end of decade [2010], UN warns
    "Rising sea levels, desertification and shrinking freshwater supplies will create up to 50 million environmental refugees by the end of the decade [2010], experts warn today."

    Where are they now? What happened?

    The UNEP published a map showing the danger zones.

    Let's see how it played out:

    Bahamas: population increased by 50,047 persons during the last 10 years

    Seychelles: Population 2002 - 81,755 Population 2010 - 88,311

    Maldives: not had their census yet but they are building a new airport...

  • Comment number 37.

    @ jack # 36

    it would be interesting to catalouge every failed (and correct) precidiction made by the official bodies on cAGW- i think it would be a very useful exercise as to my knowledge, they haven't got one right yet- but the DO know that it's getting worse of course...

  • Comment number 38.

    Its all well and good giving out facts and figures as many here are doing but providing a link to your sources of info would help as without this kind of back up no one should believe anything said. Also it should be noted that having sources is good but doesnt automatically validate what your saying.

  • Comment number 39.

    bowmanthebard wrote @33: "Have you ever in your life actually met a real-life scientist? The kind that goes to school, then college, then gets a job, struggles to pay a mortgage, bring up children, etc.?
    Shamanism lives -- in the West, it takes the form of scientist-worship."

    You describe my life so succinctly, bowman. When can I expect the worship?
    Geoff.

  • Comment number 40.

    Like Eddy from Waring (#9) I found it strange how sharply the previous subject of Fukushima Daiichi was closed especially as Mr Black continuously played down the seriousness of the situation.

    I am also the first one to acknowledge climate change but I continue to be mightily unconvinced by those who bring man-made-causes to the table. And the effects of Japan's earthquake and tsunami harden my attitude. In one fell swoop Nature can take out a very considerable part of a lot of years of very hard human work, and, in so doing, temper our belief we are somehow able to influence her way.

    I would really like some sort of perspective, real perspective, that science, whilst being the best cutting edge we can produce, should concentrate more on understanding Nature (in all her senses) before jumping to conclusions about anything. Yes we can produce sophisticated computer models, we can entertain intellectual debate, research, hypothesis and peer review, but all of this must be seen against a whole raft of factors which we know can and will cloud our best guesses at what is going on. Our best computer models are mightily insignificant against the infinite variables Nature introduces.

    Fukushima Daiichi demonstrates our continued risk taking mentality; the AGW group demonstrate our weakness for wanting to believe we are somehow in control (of anything). These symposiums/conferences/trips to far away places, call them what you will demonstrate we haven't really got a clue but we will keep on trying even when we may be looking in the wrong place.

  • Comment number 41.

    GeoffWard #39 wrote:

    "When can I expect the worship?"

    As soon as they get tired of throwing rotten tomatoes at philosophers.

  • Comment number 42.

  • Comment number 43.

    #33 bowman

    "Have you ever in your life actually met a real-life scientist? The kind that goes to school, then college, then gets a job, struggles to pay a mortgage, bring up children, etc.?"

    i personally know about a dozen, some from my studies and some friends from a local university and associated industry. this is not statistically rigorous but most went into science because they enjoy the challenge. they're not paupers but could have made much more in banking! they are currently struggling with the cuts in the uk and are spending more and more time trying to find funding for research. hardly the best use of their time.

    do i worship them? no. do i think they're always right? no. but if i disagree with them on any subject i'm careful to do my homework because they will pick your arguments to pieces if they're faulty. and they do this very openly and honestly because that is how they work, they cannot afford to have a mistaken understanding of a process.

    this approach is why i tend to trust their opinions more than i would the devious drivel from the likes of monckton, morano, inhofe etc.

    and for the record one of them is an out and out agw sceptic.

  • Comment number 44.

    #38 si8353 What an excellent suggestion and perhaps BBC enviro journalists could lead by example. Surely, Mr.Black was fully aware of the following information when he posted his cut and paste item about Shale Gas. It is somewhat amazing that even the quoted author admits "The data is lousy"

    http://www.energyindepth.org/2011/04/five-things-to-know-about-the-cornell-shale-study/

    H/T Bishophill

  • Comment number 45.

    LabMunkey @35

    I was trying to say that although you are correct that short term climatic drivers (in this case atmospheric temp) can affect surface water, it is not as clear cut as you think.

    It comes down to mass related energy; the amount of energy in the atmosphere that is required to raise the temperature of the oceans by 1 degree is simply staggering- there is not enough energy in the atmosphere to do this (which is why ocean temps track solar output).

    Now, atmospheric temps can slow down the cooling and act as a partial insulator, but the primary driver for oceanic temp is and always will be the sun (directly- not through atmospheric conduction).

    I think we are talking at cross purposes here. I'm talking about the influences that affect atmosphere-ocean coupling on multi-decadal timescales and shorter - which is the kind of timescale discussed by Stieg when he talks about the influence of sea surface temperatures on Antarctic warming.

    I suspect you are talking about much longer term connections between solar and orbital activity and whole-ocean temperatures.

    If you aren't doing that, can you provide a reference?

  • Comment number 46.

    rossglory #43 wrote:

    "most went into science because they enjoy the challenge. they're not paupers but could have made much more in banking!"

    Almost everyone in almost every profession chose their profession because they were interested in it, they had some talent for it, and they thought they could make a living out of it. That's why cooks go to cooking school, artists go to art school, bankers do accountancy (or whatever they do), dentists go to dental school.

    There is not the slightest reason to think that scientists study science because they are motivated by anything higher or more noble than members of any other profession. Note that one of the motivating factors is they think they can make a living out of it. In other words, they are doing it for the money, among other things -- just like cooks, artists, bankers, dentists, and everyone else.

    Many cooks aren't much good at pulling teeth, many artists aren't much good at investing money, many bankers can't cook, and many dentists can't paint for toffee. Similarly, many scientists have no special expertise in other areas.

    But something very unhealthy has taken root in modern culture. A lot of people think that because many scientific theories are unusually fine achievements, scientists themselves must be unusually fine people. But like members of other professions, many scientists can't pull teeth, can't cook, can't invest money, can't paint -- and more importantly, can't make good judgments in politics, nor in how much we ought to believe something. These all lie outside the area of scientific competence. Do you think Gauguin and Wagner must have been wonderful human beings because they were great artists?

    "if i disagree with them on any subject i'm careful to do my homework because they will pick your arguments to pieces if they're faulty."

    Loads of people will pull your argument to pieces. Ever get into a discussion with a logician? Philosopher? Barrister?

    "and they do this very openly and honestly because that is how they work"

    Slurp, slurp! -- Spare me! -- That is worship, that is!

    "they cannot afford to have a mistaken understanding of a process."

    Yes they can -- especially since science purports to describe things that cannot be seen directly, and so cannot be checked directly. All of us are wrong about many things much of the time, and we can all afford to be wrong much of the time too, as long as we're not doing 90 on the motorway.

    You're making the classic mistake of thinking that science yields certainty. Science can have great predictive power and explanatory power - but it's very, very uncertain.

  • Comment number 47.

    @ hotashes.

    Riggght. So the co2 levels is hardly suprising given the industrialisation of the developing worlds- so no dice there.

    The sea level rise is pathetic as it has been at 3.4 mm/year for over a century and has infact slowed in the last decade

    The sea ice one isn't actually bad- though i'd need more information on it- as there are issues with the measurements (which apply both ways before you go off on one)

  • Comment number 48.

    @ 45- we were talking at cross purposes, kind of. Although subtly different (and i agree they have different effects and cycles) they ARE linked.

    Specifically, you cannot tie oceanic 'surface' warming to cAGW.

  • Comment number 49.

    #bowman

    "Slurp, slurp! -- Spare me! -- That is worship, that is!"

    your prejudices are becoming tedious bowman.

  • Comment number 50.

    Labmunkey

    When your hypothesis is rising temps due to increased CO2 levels - getting your projections of CO2 levels correct is fundamental. Especially as some argue that it will be sequestered or will escape in to space.

    On sea levels - the prediction stacks up I'm afraid.

  • Comment number 51.

    for anyone interested, john mashey has a produced a very thorough analysis of what he describes as 'the machinery of climate anti-science' (posted at [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]).

    imo the 'anti-science' theme being picked up by many right wing politicians (especially in the usa) is pretty worrying.

  • Comment number 52.

    @ 50- Hotahses.

    Agreed on the C02 aspect, but not that it is a) difficult or b) proof of the theory (which is what i was reffering to- perhaps unclearly)

    On the sea level rises- they are predicting a surge in sea level rises- this has not happened and indeed the rate of rise has slowed. I'd call that a busted prediction.

  • Comment number 53.

    rossglory #51 wrote:

    "imo the 'anti-science' theme being picked up by many right wing politicians (especially in the usa) is pretty worrying."

    IMO there is nothing more anti-science than accepting the authority of anyone who calls himself a scientist. If anyone, left or right, in or out of the US, calls someone's authority into question, he does genuine science a service.

  • Comment number 54.

    LabMunkey @52

    On the sea level rises- they are predicting a surge in sea level rises- this has not happened and indeed the rate of rise has slowed. I'd call that a busted prediction.

    I think your argument is based only on an analysis of tide gauges in the US in which there is too much statistical noise to detect acceleration or deceleration. I also think they cherrypicked the start point of their analysis to get the desired result. If you include a more global data set and do some fairly simple time series analysis, it isn't at all obvious that you are correct.

  • Comment number 55.

    Labmunkey

    The rate of sea level rise has not slowed. The projection stands.

  • Comment number 56.

    Paul Butler #54 wrote:

    From your link in the above pasting:

    "As for future sea level rise, these predictions are based on physics, not statistics."

    That's a bit misleading, isn't it? Their predictions are based on physics AND statistics. Anything based on statistics is based on statistics plus something else, and if you just mention the "something else" you give the impression that statistics isn't an essential part of it, when it is.

    It's a bit like me betting on a horse after looking at some horse race statistics and doing some maths, then saying "my bet is based on maths, not statistics"! (Note to self: must tell the wife that.)

  • Comment number 57.

    @56 Bowman

    Your comment is a straw man argument.

    The sea level rise projection remains accurate.

  • Comment number 58.

    Bowman @56

    The writer explains in more detail further into that piece:

    "The relatively modest acceleration in sea level so far is not a cause for great concern, but neither is it cause for comfort. The fact is that statistics simply doesn’t enable us to foresee the future beyond a very brief window of time. Even given the observed acceleration, the forecasts we should attend to are not from statistics but from physics."

    If you just look at the statistics of the past few decades, they don't tell you about possible state changes:

    "Not only will there likely be nonlinear response to thermal expansion of the oceans [but also] when the ice sheets become major contributors to sea level rise, they will dominate the equation."

    The stats are only informative to the extent to which they can be incorporated into the models. One weakness of the climate models (which isn't often mentioned) is that they can't easily predict thresholds, points where feedbacks kick in more strongly. Of course that is precisely because we lack sufficiently detailed knowledge of non-linear responses.

    Some people regard that as comforting and others regard it as a cause for concern.

  • Comment number 59.

    @ paul and hotashes.

    The university of colarado data directly contradicts your two (similar) statements. Global sea-level rate-rises have dropped. Further they haven't updated their data for months- so it could have dropped further still (we just don't know).

    http://sealevel.colorado.edu/

  • Comment number 60.

    @ 58

    It seems that you're relying on unknown, unlikely and completely unsupported 'tipping points' to force your argument through conflicting data. It's bad practice... for a scientist.

  • Comment number 61.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 62.

    Good news from the USA:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/04/12/zeroed-out-noaa-climate-service-funding-axed-in-budget-cr/

    Now these would be propagandists will have to work for Greenpeace or the BBC... or like some people, apparently both.

  • Comment number 63.

  • Comment number 64.

    #59. LabMunkey

    No, no. Ignore the data and lack of evidence of the "catastrophic!" sea level rise the Chicken Littles have been screaming about. It must be true. Mr. Hardtalk said it was happening in Australia, so we know that must be true.

  • Comment number 65.

    33. At 08:02am 13th Apr 2011, bowmanthebard wrote:

    “Have you ever in your life actually met a real-life scientist?”

    Well yes, in the course of getting a Ph.D. in the biological sciences I met quite a few as I progressed through a small college and at two major U.S. public universities. Then I provided statistical consulting services at a major U.S. Museum of Natural History where I met more of them, followed by many years of working with other scientists at a major NASA facility. So just how many have you known?

    41. At 12:42pm 13th Apr 2011, bowmanthebard wrote

    “As soon as they get tired of throwing rotten tomatoes at philosophers.”

    I would think that any real philosopher would be embarrassed to be associated with you given your tendency to build straw men that you, no surprise, then easily tear down. Perhaps you are the kind of philosopher Richard Dawkins writes about in one of his essays in The Devils’ Chaplain. Your tendency to make grand statements about subjects of study you appear to know little about doesn’t increase your credibility (even as a philosopher) in case you are interested.

  • Comment number 66.

    Paul Butler #58 wrote:

    "The writer explains in more detail further into that piece"

    You've missed my point. I wasn't saying they were wrong to say that their opponents' claims were "based on statistics". I was saying they were wrong to say that their OWN claims were NOT based on statistics.

    Were they or weren't they, in your opinion?

  • Comment number 67.

    Labmunkey

    I think you need to look at the projection again, instead of building an argument around what you think it says.

    The projection on sea level rise stands.

  • Comment number 68.

    hotashes - re sea levels rise. While I know that this method is standard operating procedure for the AGW gang, just because you keep repeating something doesn't make it true.

    If you have something to back up your claim then post it.

  • Comment number 69.

    65. At 20:58pm 13th Apr 2011, HungeryWalleye wrote:

    I would think that any real philosopher would be embarrassed to be associated with you given your tendency to build straw men that you, no surprise, then easily tear down. Perhaps you are the kind of philosopher Richard Dawkins writes about in one of his essays in The Devils’ Chaplain. Your tendency to make grand statements about subjects of study you appear to know little about doesn’t increase your credibility (even as a philosopher) in case you are interested.


    It would be nice if Dawkins followed his own advice from time to time

  • Comment number 70.

    Perhaps you would like to share your view as to how much of the Greenland Ice Sheet would need to melt, how fast before you would call it a catastrophe?

  • Comment number 71.

    69. At 00:53am 14th Apr 2011, CaveyBaby wrote:

    "It would be nice if Dawkins followed his own advice from time to time"

    What advice might that be?

  • Comment number 72.

    29. At 22:40pm 12th Apr 2011, Eddy from Waring wrote:

    "It seems to me that part of the zeal of the anti-fossil fuel sector in parts of the media is informed by the notion, that if we move away from this, then society's energy supply will not be in the hands of roughly-spoken men with tattoos, given to militant trade union membership. "

    It is unclear if this is the voice of paranoia or of an agent provocateur.

  • Comment number 73.

  • Comment number 74.

    @ 67

    You may have a point actually- The graphic is difficult to make out and it seems that they've moved the goalposts on this one, quietly at that.

    Looking at the graphic (wish it was interactable so i could get a closer look) it would seem that the current rate is at the upper end of the displayed sea-level rises. I missed this as the current rate for SO SO SO long was deemed as LOW and further we were told, repeatedly and at length that it should be rising faster- the predictions touted also suggested MUCh higher rises (manhatten under water etc etc).

    One can only assume that for this graphic they omitted the higher-band model prediction data to make the current, entirely normal and dropping sea-level rate seem high.

    Which is a bit naughty as on this data, sea level rises are not in the slightest bit alarming or worrying.... interesting.

  • Comment number 75.

    Fukushima changes the argument more than most will admit.

    Nuclear power was our only workable answer to CO2 emissions, now the hysteria and bad reporting about what was in the end a minor event in a massive natural catastrophe has damaged Nuclear power beyond repair.


    Politicians will cave in, they will ignore the science and listen to the baying hysterical mob. Politicians care about one thing, votes. Because to politicians the climate is pretty irrelevant, their ivory towers are storm proofed and insulated with taxpayer’s money.

    Even renewing our current nuclear power stations is going to be an uphill struggle now, let alone the massive expansion that was needed to replace fossil fuel.
    The AGW doomsayers will be happy because almost universally they are against nuclear energy. The oil companies will be happy because the only threat to their profits was from nuclear energy, and the journalists will be happy because they really will have a global catastrophe to report.

    Rather than endless uninformed debate about AGW how about solutions and answers? Because Fukushima has removed the only answer we had to CO2 emissions.

  • Comment number 76.

    68 @ Rockies see my post 42 & post 54 by Paul Butler.

    74 @ Labmunkey nobody has changed the goal posts. You can't blame the IPCC if the sources you use to try and criticize the science don't provide the full context by cherrypicking their info.

  • Comment number 77.

    @ 76.

    Well dang- i'm completely confused now.

    The IPCC state that they use the 1961-2003 rate average (1.8 mm/year) as the baseline for the century- we'll leave that particular kettle of cherry picking alone for a second- but looking at the colorado data- that is not the case for the rate- it is much higher, making the 'increase' in sea level rates statement false.

    Further- 3.4 mm/year is actually a very 'safe' rate of rise- absolutely nothing to be worried about.

    So- just what the dickens are the IPCC trying to say? that the rate rise, consistent for over 100 years (and now slowing) is a problem?? Well, the colarado data contradicts their 'apparent' increase in rates and if anything, shows that the sea level rises rates are steadily dropping.

    The models showing the rise at the 'highest levels' are therefore irrelevant, as the models were clearly calibrated off the erroneous 1961-2003 section- which is not actually backed up in the colorado data.

    As i said- confused.

  • Comment number 78.

    @77

    With working out and logic like that I can see why you are confused.

  • Comment number 79.

    @ 77
    Then please point out where i am wrong.

    We are constantly berated with 'sea levels are going to drown us all' stories; but it seems the IPCC doesn't support this.

    We then see that they 'calibrate' the sea levels for the 1961-2003 period- which is strange as these are post industrialisation years- further we see that the colorado sea level directly contradicts the IPCC's.

    We then have the models, which using this lower calibrated period, proclaim that the 3.4 mm/year average (steady for 100 years and since dropping) is unusually high and something to be alarmed about (while stapling it to their theory as proof). But at 3.4 mm/year, you're going to be waiting a while before sea level rises worry anyone.... and the increase shown by the IPCC is artificial as it is relative to the 'calibration period' that is directly contradicted in the data.

    So again- it's very confusing.

  • Comment number 80.

    @79 you are wrong in your statements about how sea level rise across the 20thC has been calculated
    http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch5s5-5-2.html

    Your wrong in your understanding of why sea levels are predicted to rise in future
    http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/faq-5-1.html
    (also see Pauls link)

    And your Colarado link doesn't say what you want it to. Linking to a graph for the period between 1994 and 2011 doesn't support your statements.

  • Comment number 81.

    @ 46 bowman

    the end of your statement was science is very very uncertain. In certain cases you are right climate science is inherently uncertain due to the sheer size and complexity of the system it studies and because of these reasons (and others) is hard to test with empirical experiments.

    The issue im getting at is dont brand all science with the same stick. The large majority of biological science (not all but most) has been tested and if it is believed to be right is at least 95% if not more certain. So correct me if im wrong but thats fairly certain by most standards (see statspages.org or http://udel.edu/%7Emcdonald/statintro.html for a much more in depth descrition of statistics).

    Also your comments relating to various professions are in my experience predominantly not true. Most people who work in places like factories, warehouses, call centres, fast food restaurants etc havent chosen this as their preferred profession and in fact hate their jobs.

  • Comment number 82.

    @ HA # 80

    Hmm. I think the problem here is that the IPCC is being less than clear here- your links don't quite match to what's being said here:
    http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch10s10-6-5.html

    -note i'm not saying they contradict one another, but they don't quite give the same message either- hence my confusion.

    However- i do find it odd that the colorado data shows 3.4 mm/year for 100 years and then the ippc decide it's 1.8, then feign shock when it rises back to 3.4 mm/year.

    And again- how is 3.4 mm / year of any concern?

    Re-the colorado link- may i suggest you take time to peruse the whole site- that's just a summary graph of the last 30 years they have over a hundred years of data on there (including tidal gauge obviousy)- it's well worth a look.

  • Comment number 83.

    3. At 02:54am 14th Apr 2011, CanadianRockies wrote:

    "#70 - Yawn..."

    You didn't answer the question.

  • Comment number 84.

    HungeryWalleye #32 wrote:

    "People don't go into the natural sciences to make money."

    bowmanthebard #33: "Have you ever in your life actually met a real-life scientist? The kind that goes to school, then college, then gets a job, struggles to pay a mortgage, bring up children, etc.?"

    HungeryWalleye #65: "in the course of getting a Ph.D. in the biological sciences I met quite a few as I progressed through a small college and at two major U.S. public universities. Then I provided statistical consulting services at a major U.S. Museum of Natural History where I met more of them, followed by many years of working with other scientists at a major NASA facility."

    I don't see what bearing your own career details have on the question of what motivates scientists in general, or whether as you claim that it is a career choice unlike all others in that money isn't a factor. You claim to know lots of scientists, but don't say anything about what motivated them to choose a career in science. Are you saying your own career is exceptional or unexceptional, as careers in science go? If you think it is unexceptional, are you saying you did NOT expect to make a living out of a career in science? Are you saying you were motivated by a "higher" calling? Do you think such a "higher" calling somehow qualifies you to make judgements in areas that lie outside your own area of expertise, such as public policy? Are you saying that being so motivated -- with no interest in money at all -- is typical of scientists in general?

  • Comment number 85.

    Labmunkey

    Where does the colarado link state that the sea level has risen at 3.4mm for the last 100 years. It's figures are in line with the IPCC.

    http://sealevel.colorado.edu/tidegauges.php

  • Comment number 86.

    CaveyBaby #69: "It would be nice if Dawkins followed his own advice from time to time"

    HungeryWalleye #71: "What advice might that be?"

    You gave the impression that Dawkins' advice was not to "make grand statements about subjects of study you appear to know little about". But if Dawkins' advice is not to pass judgement in areas beyond one's own academic qualifications, it's really quite remarkable how often he himself does just that -- he frequently passes judgement in areas beyond the area of his own academic qualifications -- on religious belief, politics, education, intervention in foreign wars, etc., etc.. He's a celebrity opinion-expresser!

    I have no problem with Dawkins -- or anyone else -- expressing his own opinion in any area, but I do wish the general public would not unquestioningly accept someone's opinion as authoritative simply on the basis of qualifications in an unrelated area. That unfortunately is what is happening with people who drape themselves is the supposedly saintly attire of "scientists" -- a label too often applied without critical thought, on the basis of nothing better than academic qualifications, however dubious.

  • Comment number 87.

    What has happened to HAARP? I miss my daily visits to see the graphs. Now I will have to make my own 'Blue Peter' style magnetometer with magnets, string, sticks, tape measure and a glass jar. I see philosophers and scientists are back to baiting each other again. This tells me that our friends are either bored or baffled by mixed messages and data overload. At least Spaceweather gives information as a percentage chance of something happening, so you can take your pick on which way you bet. So what are the percentage chances of sea changes?

  • Comment number 88.

    Looks like Monckton has come up with a novel way to use the Colarado data

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/monckton-myth-16-bizarro-world-sea-level.html

  • Comment number 89.

    si8353 #81 wrote:

    "The large majority of biological science (not all but most) has been tested and if it is believed to be right is at least 95% if not more certain."

    Percentages don't apply to "certainty" i.e. the confidence with which we can believe things. They express the relative frequency of a particular property in a given class (of repeated events, for example). We must be careful not to confuse these two senses of the word 'probability'.

    Unfortunately, the statistical term 'confidence interval' tends to give a very misleading impression of what statistics is doing. It is not expressing a "degree to which we can be confident that a claim is true", but rather "the amount of scatter in repeated estimates, given that the sample(s) is perfectly representative of the larger population in respect of variability".

    Biological claims such as "dinosaurs once roamed the Earth" or "eusocial insects evolved through group selection" are not subject to statistical analysis like that. We don't have 1000 Earths, of which 952 of them were roamed by dinosaurs, or anything like that!

    Having said that, I agree that we can be very confident about the central claims of evolutionary biology, even though we cannot apply a number to that confidence -- anyway the confidence will differ from one person to the next, depending on the other stuff they believe.

  • Comment number 90.

    @ HA, this is curious- the data i can no longer find the data i was reffering to. They used to have a graph-sumamry with the tidal data plotted alongside the satellite with the rates superimposed over the relevant sections.

    The link is no longer there (my 'favourite' in IE is now shoing 'bad link'- address removed or modified).

    I'll investigate and get back to you- i'll concede the point until i find the data.

  • Comment number 91.

    #76. hotashes wrote:

    68 @ Rockies see my post 42 & post 54 by Paul Butler.

    hotashes... sorry, but this biased advocacy website doesn't count. Even if it were actually more credible all we have is unsubstantiated projections that are not supported by any real evidence other than more model based projections.

    Funny how there is NEVER any real evidence of this bogey man... I suppose it is going to start next Tuesday.

    As for Butler's comment, the latest data from satellites does not show any increasing trend - just the opposite.

    So where, exactly, has there been any real world evidence of this Big AGW Lie about sea level rise?

    Nobody ever addressed this inconvenient point (below). This breaking story is significant because a) it clearly reveals what deliberate deceit and fakery the AGW gang does and b) it clearly reveals that all thos UK whitewashes were whiter than white and a total joke.

    Meanwhile, the rot at the core of the AGW project just gets worse:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/04/09/the-pre-climategate-issue-that-is-the-issue/

    Why are so many AGW 'scientists' and promoters so dishonest?






  • Comment number 92.

    83. HungeryWalleye wrote:

    "You didn't answer the question."

    Yes I did. To put it another way, other than as topics for discussion, I am not concerned about fantasy threats like the Great Greenland Meltdown.

    I wasn't concerned about Iraqi WMDs or Y2K either.

    Let me ask you... how many legs does a unicorn need to grow before you will be concerned?

  • Comment number 93.

    @2. Wolfiewoods wrote:

    Good to see that you have finally done something about the dissenters who for so long have taken over your blog. By producing more information / instructional articles without the option to comment and by producing considerably less blogs with the option to comment you have denied these disagreeable people the opportunity to question the wisdom of our greatest scientific minds.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    There's a term for that. It's called propaganda.

  • Comment number 94.

    Gosh Arctic ice melting at the END of an ice age, gosh who would have thought it!
    Now Arctic ice increasing that would be trouble, as that would mean the start of another ice age and that would be much MORE troubling.

  • Comment number 95.

    Sea Level Rise Accelerating
    http://climatesignals.org/2011/04/sea-level-rise-accelerating/

    Well what do we expect? Warming world = faster rate of thermal expansion, faster ice sheet melt and faster glacier decline - of course it's going to accelerate.

  • Comment number 96.

    So much for the CO2 bogeyman, again...

    http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2011/04/14/enso-controls-the-climate-not-co2/

    How the AGW industry's main 'scientific' tool fakes temperature data, at a glance:

    http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2011/04/14/visualizing-giss-bloat/

  • Comment number 97.

    #95 - quake... if that link was supposed to show something scary, it doesn't. These statistics simply confirm that all the scary scenarios being thrown out are just Big Lies. And contrary to what they are claiming, this longer term record is not nearly as precise as they imply but the increased SHORT TERM acceleration they claim would be predicted by the recent SHORT TERM warming trend we just went through.

    As for the apparent trend since 1880, well that would be predicted as the Little Ice Age ends... and the AGW gang hasn't figured out a way to blame that on us yet or find a way to tax the peasants to pay for it, so...

    "Abstract: We estimate the rise in global average sea level from satellite altimeter data for 1993–2009 and from coastal and island sea-level measurements from 1880 to 2009. For 1993–2009 and after correcting for glacial isostatic adjustment, the estimated rate of rise is 3.2 ± 0.4 mm year-1 from the satellite data and 2.8 ± 0.8 mm year-1 from the in situ data. The global average sea-level rise from 1880 to 2009 is about 210 mm. The linear trend from 1900 to 2009 is 1.7 ± 0.2 mm year-1 and since 1961 is 1.9 ± 0.4 mm year-1. There is considerable variability in the rate of rise during the twentieth century but there has been a statistically significant acceleration since 1880 and 1900 of 0.009 ± 0.003 mm year-2 and 0.009 ± 0.004 mm year-2, respectively. Since the start of the altimeter record in 1993,
    global average sea level rose at a rate near the upper end of the sea level projections of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Third and Fourth Assessment Reports. However, the reconstruction indicates there was little net change in sea level from 1990 to 1993, most likely as a result of the volcanic eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991."

    So... 1.7 mm per year... 1.7 meters by 3011... IF current trends since 1880 continue. And given what we know about the natural variability of climate, and the utter stupidity of using short term trends to project long term trends, there is no resaon to expect current trends to continue... unless you are a natural climate variability denier.

    So, again, yawn. Too many real problems in the world to worry about fantasy projections that are based on nothing but crystal ball musings by people programmed and incentivized to look for the worst.

  • Comment number 98.

    BowmanTheBard –
    I was expressing my own, unsolicited, advice to you when I suggested not “making grand statements about subjects of study you appear to know little about”. I only referred to Dawkins essay in The Devil’s Chaplain because it was a rather scathing comment on a certain school of philosophy. I must say your views on statistics, chaos theory and modeling and the practical exercise science are not particularly indicative of a deep understanding. If you want to at least get the right words when talking about Chaos Theory, you could do worse than read the book by James Gleick titled Chaos: Making a New Science, New York, Penguin, 1988.

    In regard to the motivation of people choosing science as a career, your original question insinuated that I didn’t know “real” scientists and therefore was in no position to speak to their motivation in choosing the natural sciences as a profession. I merely recited a general outline of my career to point out I know quite a few, both professionally and personally and thus was in a better position, based on observation, to speak to their motivations then perhaps you are. Oh, I forgot philosophers and particularly would be philosophers don’t need observations to come to their conclusions; their conclusions just spring full blown from their foreheads like the offspring of Zeus.

    You do like to put words in peoples’ mouths, neither I, nor others on this blog have suggested that science is a “higher calling” as you like to say. We merely suggest the scientific method is more likely to produce a basis for estimating the results of various actions or lack of actions on the part of society. As seems likely, a fair number of the members of society may choose to drive civilization over the cliff, which is OK, it would just be nice if they would be willing to acknowledge it instead of slandering the scientific enterprise because they don’t like the prognosis for inaction on AGW. After all, most of us can reasonably expect to die before things get really nasty so what’s to worry about?

    I never suggested that scientists had no interest in money, only that it was not the prime motivator of their choice of career. If one is not independently wealthy, it is necessary to seek employment as a scientist if one wishes to carry on with the activity. Certainly the majority of the scientists I worked with were primarily focused on their research and how they could get the resources they needed to carry on with it. I even know of one case where an academic scientist was under pressure to apply for big grants by his university, so the university could get the overhead funds that come with the grants. He didn’t need big grants to do the research he was interested in and took a lower paying job at a Canadian university where he could do his research in peace.

    Fortunately, most people employed as scientists make a comfortable living, and therefore can focus on their research interests (no doubt a source of resentment by less fortunate people). I remember one colleague and I use to complain over lunch, about people miss using the very powerful statistical packages available to anyone who could afford them. We shared the opinion that it would be nice if people had to get a license before being allowed to use them (I think I would deny Labmunkey one). We really never talked about how to make more money as a business man or someone working in a trade might, we had enough and it really wasn’t a major concern. I might note that the people with a science background that were really interested in making money went to New York and London and sold themselves for very good prices to the bankers and investment houses for the purpose of obscuring the real nature of those organization’s activities, much to the sorrow of us all.

    Finally I would note that formal training is not the only way to acquire knowledge. In Dawkin’s case, he has clearly invested considerable time in examining many of the topics he writes on, including religion. His comments on education certainly ring true to me, based on my experience on this side of the pond. In my own case, I have had only one formal class in computer science many years ago as an undergraduate, yet managed to learn enough to move to the position of Systems Engineer on my current project. A necessary change after the previous administration made a 30% cut in NASA’s Earth Sciences budget.

    The people BowmanTheBard , CR and some of the other participants on this blog like to rail against are nothing like the people I’ve worked with for most of my life, but then political invective is seldom concerned with reality but rather stirring up the ignorant, the paranoid and the resentful. Bipedal anthropoid apes, their own worst enemy.

  • Comment number 99.

    92. At 21:09pm 14th Apr 2011, CanadianRockies

    You do have a wonderful tendency to conflate unrelated subjects. Working with computers at the Y2K moment, I can say the reason it wasn't an issue is because a great number of people worked very hard to fix the problem and test the solutions before that date rolled around. In regard to WMD in Iraq, many of us had serious questions about the accuracy of those claims based on UN reports prior to the war. Oh, I forgot you don't believe the UN. so just how did you know there weren't any WMD? Was it a report from the Fraser Institute?

    Are you really trying to suggest that whatsup... and stevendgoddard are disinterested objective sources of information on climatology?

    I am not to worried about unicorns as there is no evidence that they exist. However, I am quite certain that the Greenland Ice Sheet exists and its volume of ice above sea level can be calculated accurately enough to estimate the degree of sea level rise given a particular percentage of melting. If one assumes, based on your chosen name you live in or near the Rocky Mountains, and guessing at your age, I can understand why you wouldn't have any personal concerns about whether or not there is significant melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet. But then again prior to the earth quake in Japan, that was a country held out as an example of how nuclear power was perfectly safe when administered in an advanced industrial society. Too bad a low probability event had the impertinence to actually happen.

    On a related vane, how much of Japan would need to be declared unfit for human habitation before you would rethink your advocacy of nuclear energy? Unlikely as it may appear now, would the abandonment of Tokyo change your mind?

    Just curious if any changes in facts might move you out of your ideological certainty?

  • Comment number 100.

    Oh, CanadianR, just another tidbit on nuclear power -- a new fault was discovered off the coast of California by geologists with the potential to produce an earth quake greater than the design specifications for a near by nuclear power plant. Do you think it might be a prudent thing to shut it down or should we just wait and see if an earth quake of that magnitude actually happens and the plant fails? After all, it could happen tomorrow or not for 3 centuries.

 

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