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Why the laws of physics make anthropogenic climate change undeniable - Comments

JuJu's Avatar Comment 1 by JuJu

But Rush Limbaugh said Global Warming was just make believe, and that the evil scientist just wanted to scare people in order to line there own liberal progressive pockets. I mean heck, millions of people listen to and trust Rush Limbaugh, so he has to be telling the truth. Right?

Mon, 29 Aug 2011 20:34:49 UTC | #865294

Corylus's Avatar Comment 2 by Corylus

I want to share these links with you all so you can have fun reading them, because I know how much most people here enjoy learning something new.

Thank you, Jos, for taking the time to do this.

Mon, 29 Aug 2011 21:35:03 UTC | #865322

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 3 by God fearing Atheist

This should be fun. Pull up a chair and grab some popcorn.

The AGW deniers are now going to tell Jos and his lecturer where they are wrong. In detail - lecture, page, and line/equation number, with full workings and evidence.

F--k, I haven't done physics since A level. What is the Clausius Clapeyron relation again? Its going to be quite a ride.

Mon, 29 Aug 2011 22:03:26 UTC | #865330

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 4 by Alan4discussion

I don't think those who doubt the reality of our CO2's effect on the climate realise just how many laws of physics they have to snub as part of that denial.

Many deniers I have encountered do not understand climate even at a school geography level, do not know the basic scientific measuring techniques, cannot follow basic reasoning, can't understand basic arithmetic, let along advanced maths, and refuse to recognise evidence as such.

Never the less they do not feel in anyway inhibited from preaching their views on the subject, generally making it up from incredulity as they go along, or parroting nonsense from denial websites or tabloid rags.

I suspect many could not even quote you a law of physics, let alone understand one!

However, your earlier posts on various topics have been clearly explained and well written, so all the best with this educational discussion. I shall be watching with interest.

Mon, 29 Aug 2011 22:10:04 UTC | #865332

rolan's Avatar Comment 5 by rolan

I must say that I find the term denier and the general condescending tone rather offensive. I have a science qualification, am skeptical regarding unfounded claims of various flavors, and resent the characterization of any critical analysis of the popular position on climate change as being some sort of Luddite, reactionary response.

I do think that the "reduce carbon dioxide emissions at any cost" position to be flawed.

1) The material posted above is really great and a great boon to the discussion. The physics is well understood. There is no argument that a doubling of CO2 concentrations should give rise to a temperature increase of about 1 degree K.

But I would point out that Lecture 7 - Forcing, feedbacks, and the climate response explains the uncertainties in trying to estimate the climate sensitivity to this change from models and the difficulty (the lecture says that it cannot be done) in trying to use experimental data for such an estimation. It also states that the precise effect on and by various actors in the system (e.g. cloud cover) is currently unknown. It's the climate sensitivity which is unknown.

This is a big deal as most of the IPPC predictions are predicated on multi-degree changes in temperature.

2) It is unclear that a 1 (or 2 or 3 or whatever) degree change in global temperature is significant in relation to long-term cyclic, global temperature variation. This is a pulling-signal-out-of-noise problem, and so far, the experimental data doesn't seem to have matched model predictions.

We just don't know enough to make accurate predictions - and as scientists, that's OK. We're comfortable about having challenges and things to learn about our universe.

We can make hypotheses and discuss their relative likelihoods. We can undertake risk analyses and act on them appropriately. Just don't tell me that the science is settled, blather on about scientific consensus, and pull out numbers from somewhere within the error bars as definitive fact.

I don't think I'm denying anything, I think that's the way science is done. (Faith, on the other hand, is a whole other kettle of fish).

Tue, 30 Aug 2011 01:48:44 UTC | #865395

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 6 by Steve Zara

I do think that the "reduce carbon dioxide emissions at any cost" position to be flawed.

It's a necessary position. There are many reasons why carbon dioxide emissions must be reduced, not just the now inevitable climate change. One reason is the increasing acidification of the seas as a result of CO2 absorption. This could cause widespread harm to ecosystems, with unknown consequences.

Another reason is that increased efficiency and innovation is very good for economies. Just to give an example, the USA has lagged seriously behind the rest of the world in making fuel-efficient cars.

Another reason is political and - reducing our dependency on fuel imports would extract us from the need to deal with very unpleasant states, such as Saudi Arabia.

Another reason is that cheap fuel is going to run out. It's not a renewable resource. It makes economic sense to reduce our dependence on such fuel and plan a transition to other sources of energy.

Tue, 30 Aug 2011 02:11:11 UTC | #865397

raytoman's Avatar Comment 7 by raytoman

Don't know about you geniuses but as an umble man I take note of things like they guys who rowed to the North Pole in the last week or so. Twas on the news.

As for cold northern winters, Specific Heat taken in by the melting ice that is drifting South would have an impact. Anyone checked recently the distribution of icebergs in terms of their Southern and Northern drift? Not to mention the loss of ice from both poles.

Happy Feet was lured to New Zealand by the apparent cold and a year or two ago, we had icebergs off Christchurch.

Of course, all this might have been caused by God, Yeah! Right!

Tue, 30 Aug 2011 04:28:27 UTC | #865428

JuJu's Avatar Comment 8 by JuJu

JOS, the info you've given is good, I don't know if you've looked through the Pew Center Research on Climate Change, but if you navigate through it there's a lot of good information.

Tue, 30 Aug 2011 05:40:12 UTC | #865446

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 9 by Stevehill

CC deniers frankly make creationists look vaguely intelligent in comparison.

My well-meaning octogenarian mother said recently that if what she called global warming were true, how come we (in Britain) were having such a wet and miserable summer. I said even if I accepted her terminology (and climate change is not just about "warming"), if the seas warmed up, more water evaporated, and what goes up must come down. I think she sort of got the point.

The most convincing argument for me is that 98% of scientists who have played any serious role in looking at the evidence are convinced. And the other 2% are paid by energy companies. Just follow the money.

Tue, 30 Aug 2011 07:15:19 UTC | #865463

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 10 by Jos Gibbons

All kind words (including future ones) are thanked simultaneously for brevity. As this is the first of my discussions I've had posted, it's only fair I answer some points.

Comment #865330 by God fearing Atheist

The AGW deniers are now going to tell Jos and his lecturer where they are wrong. In detail - lecture, page, and line/equation number, with full workings and evidence.

It doesn't take very long for us to see how true your predictions are, does it? ;) See also my response to some objectiosn below.

I haven't done physics since A level. What is the Clausius Clapeyron relation again?

Firstly, I'm glad to get questions like that, as it proves people are actually reading these PDFs!
“Again” suggests maybe it was on your A level syllabus. Maybe it was back then, but it wasn't for me.
Anyway, basically, it's the relation between the applied pressure and the temperatures at which phase transitions occur. You no doubt know you can melt ice by applying pressure rather than using a more direct way of heating it. You may also have heard tea-making on a mountain isn't much fun because you can't get the kettles to take water past about 70 degrees, at which it will boil at the much lower atmospheric pressure. (The first lecture course I've provided includes a discussion of the fact that, and reason why, atmospheric pressure exponentially declines with altitude; indeed, the change in altitude that gives an e-fold reduction is approximately the height of Mount Everest.) Well, the relation puts all this on a mathematical footing. Wikipedia provides multiple derivations as if its thermodynamic inexorability was in any question.

Comment #865332 by Alan4discussion

Many deniers I have encountered do not understand climate even at a school geography level, do not know the basic scientific measuring techniques, cannot follow basic reasoning, can't understand basic arithmetic, let along advanced maths, and refuse to recognise evidence as such. … I suspect many could not even quote you a law of physics, let alone understand one!

That's funny. All the ones I've encountered have “a science qualification”, like our friend rolan (see below). Now, I suppose they could all be lying, but it's much more charitable to think you and I have experienced very different critics of modern climatology's findings, and that the reason they never say what science the qualification is in is because “half a dozen of one, six of the other”. Now, as a physicist, I'd better go tell the economists why I just don't buy what they're saying ... Options' prices exhibiting behaviour analogous to diffusion, indeed ...

Comment #865395 by rolan

I find the term denier and the general condescending tone rather offensive.

I don't know how you detect tones in writing online, but as for whether “denier” is offensive, I have some sympathy with Peter Sinclair's (potholer54's) preference for calling such people opponents of … ACC, AGW, it mattering, whatever they may oppose. On the other hand, I think there are times it's OK to use the term denier, because:
* they are denying something, just as I deny a deity's being probable; and
* even if “denier” means something stronger, i.e. that they're full of bull, well … they are.

I have a science qualification

Is it in climatology? Actually, it wouldn't immunise you against thinking nonsense on this issue even if it is.

[I] resent the characterization of any critical analysis of the popular position on climate change as being some sort of Luddite, reactionary response.

Just to clarify, do you resent such a characterization being a matter of automatic policy, or do you happen to think all such characterizations that have happened so far have been unwarranted given the nature of the empirical evidence? Because as far as I know, such a characterization is never a matter of automatic policy (it certainly isn't when I do it), and I've yet to see an argument by the “don't call them deniers but, well, those guys” that actually works.

There is no argument that a doubling of CO2 concentrations should give rise to a temperature increase of about 1 degree K.

That's a load of bull right there. We have seen a 0.74 K $ rise from half of a doubling (a multiplication by almost exactly the square root of 2) despite natural (e.g. solar, orbital, volcanic) and polluting (the anthropogenic aerosols causing “global dimming”) factors acting to cool the planet at the moment, so the effect of doubling CO2 is more than double 0.74 K. In fact, we have a way of knowing what it really is (albeit not a brilliantly accurate one), namely that we know doubling CO2 adds 3.7 Watts per square metre to the radiative forcing, and we can see what radiative forcing has occurred and what temperature rise has accompanied it (since the warming is determined purely by the amount of radiative forcing rather than its causes). Many, many ways of finding the “climate sensitivity” (the warming due to the radiative forcing doubling CO2 provides) have been used, and they clustered around not 1 K, as you claim, but 3 K. Admittedly the error bars are wide on that, but they pretty much conclusively refute your 1 K claim. Only a few years ago it was “3 +/- 1.5”, which already said you were wrong. Now the bottom of that limit is eroding, and “2 to 4.5” is the confidence interval the consensus accepts. And what's more, values above – indeed, far above – 4.5 have a much better chance of being true than was previously imagined.

$ 0.74 plus or minus 0.18. Since the main proof “about 1 K” is wrong doesn't rely on this, I didn't include the error bars in the main body of the discussion, since the important error bars are on everything else.

Lecture 7 - Forcing, feedbacks, and the climate response

Ah, good – people really are reading these things! Although in your case, quite selectively. The flawed logic that gets a 1 K figure, and the reasons why it is flawed, are also included in that PDF. Incidentally, whenever I contradict rolan on what the PDF says, I invite others to check in a "Don't take my word for it" manner.

explains the uncertainties in trying to estimate the climate sensitivity to this change from models and the difficulty (the lecture says that it cannot be done) in trying to use experimental data for such an estimation. It also states that the precise effect on and by various actors in the system (e.g. cloud cover) is currently unknown. It's the climate sensitivity which is unknown.

More selective reading is in evidence.
* As I said above, the upper and lower bounds on the sensitivity are in a ratio of more than 2 to 1. But even the minimum, a 2 K response, is much higher than you entertained. What's more, a 2 K rise is the most we are willing to tolerate, and many think even that's too high; so, if at least (and probably more than) 2 K worth of a rise comes from doubling CO2, which we've half-done already, we really do need to put the brakes on anthropogenic GHGs fast!
* Could you quote where the lecturer says it “cannot be done”?
* It's at times like these we all need to remember “uncertainty” doesn't mean that yes/no questions cannot be answered, but that variables have non-zero errors. Indeed, it's clear from his context that he discusses the ways errors can accumulate in the context of the Central Limit Theorem, as opposed to in addition implying the final answer has an enormous error on it. The PDF discusses in detail the fact that the only errors that have to add rather than partially cancelling each other are the small ones. It also makes clear the only effect whose sign is not known is that of cloud cover change's effect (because clouds both warm and cool depending on a number of their properties). After these, the main other big uncertainty is a matter of heat capacities. However, neither you nor he quantify their figures particularly well (although ironically the 2 to 4.5 K range is wider than any “no doubt it's about 1 K” claim you make), and overall the discussion in lecture 7 shows we can get a ballpark figure on the sensitivity and gradually narrow its error bars.

This is a big deal as most of the IPPC predictions are predicated on multi-degree changes in temperature.

That would only make your moaning a big deal if there was major doubt about the sensitivity being in the multi-degree range. (BTW, if you insist on measuring changes in K rather than Celsius, technically you can't call it “degree”, since K isn't in degrees.) As I've explained above, there is no doubt about that; what we're unsure of is whether it's slightly multi or very multi.

It is unclear that a 1 (or 2 or 3 or whatever) degree change in global temperature is significant in relation to long-term cyclic, global temperature variation.

How long term are we talking? Because our 0.74 K rise has already made us hotter than we've been in the last 2,000 years. And what's more, even if the last time our mean temperature was this high was N years ago, that doesn't mean things are no worse than they were N years ago because the rate of heating matches too (as it can determine whether perturbations have reversible or permanent effects, and our ice caps are an especially worrying example of this). The temperature rise we have seen already is definitely significant because its speed is so huge – not surprising, given that in a little over a century we've increased CO2 by 41 %, several times a larger percentage change than from its low to high in the previous 800,000 years, taking it to its highest levels in the past 15 to 20 million years. And as I said before, none of the natural phenomena, cycles or otherwise, are currently in a warming period, so all the warming is anthropogenic.

This is a pulling-signal-out-of-noise problem, and so far, the experimental data doesn't seem to have matched model predictions.

Those are both unqualified lies. The only models that don't fit data are the ones that assume the greenhouse effect isn't important.

We just don't know enough to make accurate predictions

Maybe not. But we can place lower bounds on what will happen that are much higher than your “definitely about 1 K” nonsense confesses.

don't tell me that the science is settled, blather on about scientific consensus, and pull out numbers from somewhere within the error bars as definitive fact.

“The science is settled” is an annoying phrase for its vagueness, so let's go into specifics. The science is settled on SOME things. It is settled, for example, on no value for the sensitivity under 2 K being the least bit plausible. I'm sorry scientific consensus (which, as I've explained ad nauseum, is not simply a consensus of scientists but a consensus that formed for scientific reasons) means so much less to you on the climate than it does when you use technology (Mr Internet user), but as you can see I gave error bars rather than pulling out numbers inside them.

Comment #865446 by JuJu

It looks good; I'll go through it in detail later. Thanks. While we're adding links, here is the climate equivalent of the Talk.Origins list of creationist arguments.

Tue, 30 Aug 2011 07:26:17 UTC | #865466

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 11 by Alan4discussion

Comment 5 by rolan

I must say that I find the term denier and the general condescending tone rather offensive. I have a science qualification, am skeptical regarding unfounded claims of various flavors, and resent the characterization of any critical analysis of the popular position on climate change as being some sort of Luddite, reactionary response.

Whikle there is a very small minority of scientists qualified to evaluate the specialists subjects which provide the input for the scientific consensus, who are scientific sceptics, the vast majority are deniers who bases their thinking on ignorance, incredulity and the disinformation circulted by denial websites, conspiracy theorists, science duffer journalists and the sponsored politicians and advertisers working for the interests of polluting industries along with their followers.(following the "tobacco strategy" - The tobacco industry sought to delay, and eventually defeat, the EC directive on tobacco advertising and sponsorship by seeking to enlist the aid of figures at the highest levels of European politics while at times attempting to conceal the industry's role.)

I do think that the "reduce carbon dioxide emissions at any cost" position to be flawed.

This is a strawman argument. Nobody suggests that CO2 should be reduced "at any cost". There are potentially enormous costs arising from ignoring the problem.

For those who need further understanding of the nature of a scientific consensus - http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-scientific-consensus.htm

1) The material posted above is really great and a great boon to the discussion. The physics is well understood. There is no argument that a doubling of CO2 concentrations should give rise to a temperature increase of about 1 degree K.

But I would point out that Lecture 7 - Forcing, feedbacks, and the climate response explains the uncertainties in trying to estimate the climate sensitivity to this change from models and the difficulty (the lecture says that it cannot be done) in trying to use experimental data for such an estimation. It also states that the precise effect on and by various actors in the system (e.g. cloud cover) is currently unknown. It's the climate sensitivity which is unknown.

It is important to distinguish between the clear cut calculations of GLOBAL EFFECTS and to separate them from the more ambitious attempts to make detailed predictions on future local climates. It is hoghly probabale that warming will result in increased preciopitation in high latitudes. However in detailed climate simulations there is uncertainty about when, where, and how much, additional rain will fall on the west coast of Norway. No doubt deniers will continue to claim that uncertainty about the latter casts doubt on the accuracy of the former.

This is a big deal as most of the IPPC predictions are predicated on multi-degree changes in temperature.

There industrial era rapid rise in global temperatures is far too fast to be the result of the long term climate cycles, which take thousands of years.

2) It is unclear that a 1 (or 2 or 3 or whatever) degree change in global temperature is significant in relation to long-term cyclic, global temperature variation. This is a pulling-signal-out-of-noise problem, and so far, the experimental data doesn't seem to have matched model predictions.

There is a well evidenced record of climate cycles going back millions of years. The effects of of a 1°, 2°, or 3°c increase from present levels in global temperatures, has had massive effects in the past, so there is no reason to think the present would be different. Human CO2 emmissions from burning billions of tons of carbon, plus the triggering the increased release of CO2 carbon sinks (and reducing its re-absorbtion), are in addition to natural cycles.

Tue, 30 Aug 2011 09:13:44 UTC | #865485

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 12 by Alan4discussion

Comment 10 by Jos Gibbons

That's funny. All the ones I've encountered have “a science qualification”, like our friend rolan (see below). Now, I suppose they could all be lying, but it's much more charitable to think you and I have experienced very different critics of modern climatology's findings, and that the reason they never say what science the qualification is in is because “half a dozen of one, six of the other”.

I was talking about the public at large, rather than the minority with science qualifications. Your point about qualifications in the wrong subjects (having diverted study away from relevant ones) is a good point. I have a friend who is a denier, who has a PhD in chemical engineering. He is also the retired manager of a coking plant, so will have been studying literature from the coal industry, - probably to the exclusion of other subjects.

It is important to know one's limitations and recognise the limitations of others. You will see that I usually leave the physics to the consensus of physicists, although as a biologist, I am well aware of the effects of global warming, a changing climate, and the bio-mechanisms they trigger.

Tue, 30 Aug 2011 09:42:34 UTC | #865491

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 13 by Jos Gibbons

I'm not sure whether I was understood, but when I compared the claims made by these people about how well qualified they are to the claims Alan4discussion made about how qualified they really are, in lending credence to the former I was joking, Anyone can claim any qualifications on the Web, though vague phrases like "a science qualification" do raise my suspicion. Even if the claim is honest, one wonders what science it is. "I'm allowed to disbelieve ACC - I'm a medical doctor" doesn't really hold water.

Tue, 30 Aug 2011 10:48:47 UTC | #865501

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 14 by Alan4discussion

Comment 7 by raytoman

As for cold northern winters, Specific Heat taken in by the melting ice that is drifting South would have an impact. Anyone checked recently the distribution of icebergs in terms of their Southern and Northern drift? Not to mention the loss of ice from both poles.

Yes! That's why the Labrador coast is cold and (Gulf-stream warmed Europe) is not so.

Big chunks of ice are breaking off glaciers - http://www.universetoday.com/70785/view-from-space-huge-piece-of-glacier-breaks-off-greenland/

While thousands of icebergs detach from Greenland’s glaciers every year, the last time one this large formed was in 1962. The flow of sea water beneath Greenland’s glaciers is a main cause of ice detaching from them.

An increased flow of icebergs has been running down the US east coast since the time of the Titanic.

Using a novel technique that reveals regional changes in the weight of the massive ice sheet across the entire continent, scientists at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., report that Greenland's low coastal regions lost 155 gigatons (41 cubic miles) of ice per year between 2003 and 2005 from excess melting and icebergs, while the high-elevation interior gained 54 gigatons (14 cubic miles) annually from excess snowfall. - http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/lookingatearth/greenland_slide.html

How long do you think it will take deniers to latch on to the extra 41 gigatons of snow? (Bear in mind that climate change simulations predict increased precipitation in high latitudes as a consequence of warming.)

The volume of the ice-cap at the south pole is also being monitored by satellite 3D radar mapping, which can "see" the ice surface and "see" through it to the rock below it to measure its volume. In considering the South Polar Icecap we should recognise that substantial parts of the "continent" of Antarctica, though ice-covered, are below sea-level.

Tue, 30 Aug 2011 13:48:29 UTC | #865548

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 15 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 13 by Jos Gibbons

Indeed, having a third level qualification does not exempt one from ignorance on subjects they know next to feck all about. What it does do, is to give certain folk the air, pomp and circumstance of a know it all. As I said elsewhere, humility in the face of those who really do know about this stuff, is a worthwhile position to take.

In my position, I have to go with the consensus of greater minds than I, especially when that consensus is so overwhelmingly high in one direction. Regardless of any of this, even as a skeptic/denier, it is prudent to err on the side of caution, it has to be the rational way to go, rewinding to the start and changing ones mind is not an option in this debate. Being sceptical and wrong will be final.

Thank you, btw, for taking the time and effort to post this detail, hard work as it is for me to get through, it is much appreciated all the same.

Yesterday was spent reading the papers of the other sides argument or lack thereof, particularly those of Madhav L Khandekar, which jac proposed as something worth considering.....Khandekar readily admits that his 50 years expertise in the science, has been in the field of short term weather prediction.

My work, primarily in my career of more than 50 years, was with short-term weather forecasting, 12 hours, 24 hours, 1 – 3 days, never forecasting beyond a week. Now I am interested in seasonal predictions but sort of in a different technique than a computer model. I think computer models have a lot of inherent difficulties in simulating precisely the large-scale circulations of the atmosphere.

From an 2009 interview.

He has this to say in a 2004 paper.....

A few other studies have questioned the precise cause of the recent warming, whether the warming is due to anthropogenic CO2 increase or due to human activity on ground (urbanization etc.). There is a definite need to reassess the present state of the global warming science. A Climate Policy like Kyoto ratification and implementation must be based on a thorough understanding of the cause and consequence of global warming.

So 4 years later and mountains of data we might expect a change of heart, no chance. In 2008 he produced this....

This Document has examined about 70 peer-reviewed papers out of a much larger number that have appeared in various international Journals in the last six years. These papers cover a wide range of topics pertaining to the present debate on the GW science. Most of the papers listed above have questioned the present view of the GW science and when taken together, these papers and many others not listed here provide an emerging view of the science of global warming & climate change which is at odds with the prevailing view.

So he is using the peer reviewed papers of skeptics to produce a peer reviewed paper on the skepticism, I can see how that might work....a sort of consensus of skeptics to prove the skeptics position. I'm not sure that's how it should be done though. But wait, that's not what he is doing at all, he is cherry picking these peer reviewed papers and quote mining to fulfil his agenda.....somewhat egregious for such an esteemed meteorologist I'd say or perhaps he has an agenda.

2009 he has this to say....

So we have a raging debate about impending glacier melt-down because of sloppiness of some IPCC authors! Further, according to Kotlyakov, the present glacier area of some 500,000 km2 could shrink to 100,000 km2 and this could happen NOT in 2035 but in 2350, if the current rate of warming continues. Also this estimated glacier area and its shrinkage does not include internal drainage basin of central Asia with an estimated area of some 40,000 km2 .

Well that's alright then, no point in worrying at all seeing as that gives us plenty of time to do even more nothing. Except a picture paints a 1000 words.. This doesn't concern Khandekar.

The fact that the IPCC gave a "mistaken" date of 2035 appears to detract from the evidence. Glaciers are on the retreat all over the world, this doesn't concern this "expert", perhaps we should all be looking at the most recent data available though,'Research finds Greenland glacier melting faster than expected'.

The good Dr. Khandekar also said this...he has advised the Indian government ya know?

Future climate change impacts can be adequately sustained using suitable adaptation strategy. A useful adaptation strategy would be to develop and improve the present skill in seasonal prediction of summer monsoon with a lead time of few weeks to a few months. Improved skill in seasonal prediction will enable appropriate measures to be implemented which could minimise impacts of future droughts and floods in the Indian monsoon.

Covering his back a bit there.

Apologies for the protracted comment, I should have put this on the other thread, but this is a thread of information on the subject, it had degenerated over there to petty squabbling over non related forum etiquette. I didn't think it inappropriate to put on here and I hope jac will get to see it here just as well.

Tue, 30 Aug 2011 15:29:37 UTC | #865579

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 16 by Alan4discussion

Comment 15 by Ignorant Amos

The good Dr. Khandekar also said this...he has advised the Indian government ya know?

.. and India is a country whose rivers are fed in the dry season by the melt water from the Himalayan glaciers which are disappearing! Of course these only provide a few millions with drinking and irrigation water!

Tue, 30 Aug 2011 17:42:16 UTC | #865620

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 17 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 16 by Alan4discussion

.. and India is a country whose rivers are fed in the dry season by the melt water from the Himalayan glaciers which are disappearing! Of course these only provide a few millions with drinking and irrigation water!

Aye, talk is cheap, especially when one doesn't have to live there.

Tue, 30 Aug 2011 17:59:02 UTC | #865625

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 18 by Alan4discussion

Just another item, which while not conclusive in its self, is an indicator of a feature typical of warming:

Data recorded by the European Space Agency's (Esa) Envisat shows both Canada's Northwest Passage and Russia's Northern Sea Route open simultaneously. - This summer's melt could break the 2007 record for the smallest area of sea ice since the satellite era began in 1979. - Shipping companies are already eyeing the benefits these routes may bring if they remain open regularly. - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14670433

The two lanes have been used by a number of small craft several times in recent years.

But the Northern Sea Route has been free enough of ice this month for a succession of tankers carrying natural gas condensate from the northern port of Murmansk to sail along the Siberian coast en route for Thailand.

"They're often open at the same time in the sense that with some ingenuity you can get through them," observed Peter Wadhams, an Arctic ice expert from the University of Cambridge.

"But this time they've really been open, with a proper Suez-size tanker going through the Northern Sea Route with a full cargo - that's a real step forward," he told BBC News.

A number of major shipping companies are looking to the opening of these routes to shorten journey times and make their businesses more efficient.

If one pushes its luck and gets caught in the ice, we will have another "ExxonValdez disaster".

Tue, 30 Aug 2011 23:08:28 UTC | #865701

raytoman's Avatar Comment 19 by raytoman

Jos

Wot? No comments on the rowers who made the North Pole in the last week or so? Has the North Pole ever been ice free before?

OK, so they had to haul the boat for 3 kilometers to sit above the actual pole. Leaves a pretty small Ice Cap.

I don't know how far south Arctic icebergs have been found but Antarctic icebergs just off the West Coast of New Zealand is a novelty.

These events are not particularly scientific but surely might help to persuade the general population that we are in an unprecedented warming phase (instead of the ice age we should be entering), mainly caused by human activity. We can't let the lobbyists of Big Oil, Big Coal, Big Cars, etc win the debate with pseudo science, appeals to greed and massive advertising and promulgation of lies.

And as for Canadas' Tar Sands and the pipeline to Texas. Shouldn't we be trying to prevent exploitation of this high carbon and other pollutant producing resource? Not least for the Native Americans whose Lakes and Tribal Lands are already badly polluted.

Oh! and about melting ice. Is the 180 times the heat needed for the actual melt phase (as opposed to the temperature change phase) making much of an impact? or is it's effect minimal given the vastness of the sea?

Tue, 30 Aug 2011 23:39:07 UTC | #865706

rolan's Avatar Comment 20 by rolan

Well Jos (Comment 10), consider me suitably slapped down.

I though this to be a forum for discussion. Obviously my moaning and lies have no place here.

(takes a breath)

I feel Comment 10 was unnecessarily vitriolic and adversarial - though I understand it is frustrating dealing with people who just don't listen or think. However, I am not sticking my fingers in my ears and going 'la la la la' - just voicing an observation. Perhaps if a commenter is just plain wrong, it's OK to say "no, that's wrong, in fact...", rather than use terms like "load of bull etc". Anyway, I did learn from your post and comment, so for that, thank you.

Also Comment 11 by Alan4discussion - Sure, at any cost may be an exaggeration, but in Australia the billions of dollars that will be taken out of the economy to mitigate the negligible contribution (on a global scale) to greenhouse emissions seems disproportionate. (Mind you, the whole approach of the Government in this area is all over the place, so perhaps it's just the implementation not the intention which is flawed).

Finally my mention of my science degree was not some sort of claim to authority, but to indicate that I am a rationalist and understand the way science is done.

Wed, 31 Aug 2011 01:08:46 UTC | #865723

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 21 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 20 by rolan

Anyway, I did learn from your post and comment, so for that, thank you.

Hmmm!

Also Comment 11 by Alan4discussion - Sure, at any cost may be an exaggeration, but in Australia the billions of dollars that will be taken out of the economy to mitigate the negligible contribution (on a global scale) to greenhouse emissions seems disproportionate. (Mind you, the whole approach of the Government in this area is all over the place, so perhaps it's just the implementation not the intention which is flawed).

What did ya learn exactly?

Finally my mention of my science degree was not some sort of claim to authority, but to indicate that I am a rationalist and understand the way science is done.

Jury is still out. Still, no mention of the subject of yer science degree Mr.Rational? Your whole post tells a different tale.

Wed, 31 Aug 2011 01:25:23 UTC | #865725

rolan's Avatar Comment 22 by rolan

Comment 21 by Ignorant Amos

I honestly don't know how I managed to rub people up the wrong way with my posts, or are you looking for an argument?

You seem to be questioning the term negligible and linking it to a claim that I found Jos's posts informative. This isn't even a climate change argument.

Australia contributes a little over 1.3% of the worlds greenhouse emissions (though it has the highest per-capita emissions - largely due to the disproportionate size of the agriculture and resource industries). The reduction of Australia's emissions by 23% per annum by 2020 (estimated by the Government in the new multi-billion dollar tax plan) will not have a significant affect on global atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

I am being a bit disingenuous here. Of course it may give us the higher-moral-ground from which we can convince others to effect change - do-as-I-do and all that. However, it seems to me that there are several things to do (stop selling coal to China, close the dirty brown-coal-fired power plants, use our abundant coastline and sunny hinterland areas for alternative energy, go nuclear etc. etc. ) that would still cost, but have a more direct impact on reducing emissions and bring other benefits.

And, if you must know, Applied Physics/Computer Science double major, though this line of inquiry is starting to sound rather like an ad-hominem attack.

Wed, 31 Aug 2011 07:29:24 UTC | #865793

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 23 by Alan4discussion

Comment 20 by rolan

Australia contributes a little over 1.3% of the worlds greenhouse emissions (though it has the highest per-capita emissions - largely due to the disproportionate size of the agriculture and resource industries). The reduction of Australia's emissions by 23% per annum by 2020 (estimated by the Government in the new multi-billion dollar tax plan) will not have a significant affect on global atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

Also Comment 11 by Alan4discussion - Sure, at any cost may be an exaggeration, but in Australia the billions of dollars that will be taken out of the economy to mitigate the negligible contribution (on a global scale) to greenhouse emissions seems disproportionate.

What billions of dollars? - Another gross exaggeration. Green energy projects should be commercially viable in the long term, without the environmental damage and pollution caused by coal mining and burning. These alternatives are already available.

Solar Thermal Electric Power Plants - Solel, an Israeli company, operates the plant, which covers 1000 acres in the Mojave Desert in Southern California. - At 354 MW, SEGS (Solar Energy Generating Systems) is not only the largest operational solar thermal energy system, but the largest solar power system of any kind. SEGS is a trough system; linear parabolic mirrors concentrate sunlight upon a receiver running along the focal line of the collector. Each mirror has a diameter of almost 20 feet concentrating solar energy upon a 4 inch diameter specially-insulated tube filled with oil. There are seven different production units (SEGS III to SEGS IX) with 400,000 mirrors. - http://jcwinnie.biz/wordpress/?p=2091

According to a 2005 policy analysis from Greenpeace, the five most promising regions in the world for development of large scale, thermal solar projects are:

Spain

Middle East
North Africa

Australia

the South Eastern and South Central United States

@22 by rolan - However, it seems to me that there are several things to do (stop selling coal to China, close the dirty brown-coal-fired power plants, use our abundant coastline and sunny hinterland areas for alternative energy, go nuclear etc. etc. ) that would still cost, but have a more direct impact on reducing emissions and bring other benefits.

Apart from solar voltaic, which is more appropriate as a local systems on buildings, there are also solar power towers, with their computer directed mirrors heating steam for a large turbine generator - which like the thermal trough system (above) is very suitable for a sunny climate like Australia:

The key to eSolar's design are the mirrors—known as heliostats in the concentrating–solar power industry. By precisely calibrating the mirrors with computer algorithms driving shoe box–size motors, eSolar can build its sunlight-harvesting power plants with many more small, flat mirrors, roughly one square meter in size, as opposed to the large, curved specialty mirrors employed in other designs. "We're using more software algorithms and less steel," says Bill Gross, CEO of the Google-backed solar company - http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=first-us-power-tower-lights-up-california

We also had a discussion (with links) here in June - http://richarddawkins.net/discussions/632627-harness-the-sea-national-geographic-june-2011-tidal-wave-power-generation

Finally my mention of my science degree

Do not take Jos's comment seeking clarification as a personal attack. We often have people here claiming "scientific authority" (eg creationist "science"or in subjects unrelated to their qualifications) in an attempt to add weight to ignorant assertions. If you want to discuss the physics with Jos, I am sure that will illustrate points for others reading the discussion.

Wed, 31 Aug 2011 09:24:57 UTC | #865809

billzfantazy's Avatar Comment 24 by billzfantazy

I have some sympathy for Rolan here. Is it necessary to be abusive just because someone doesn't agree with you? It's not as if he's saying AGW is some socialist conspiracy or anything, he makes a few arguable points which should be refuted in a rational manner.

This isn't the first time I've noticed intolerance to other peoples opinions on this site recently, fair enough berating some redneck creationist but flaming someone for stating their opinion is a bit crass IMO.

Oh and I disagree with what Rolan says, but as the quote goes, I defend his right to say it.

Wed, 31 Aug 2011 09:41:51 UTC | #865813

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 25 by Jos Gibbons

blitzfantasy, consider each anti-rolan quip in its original context. What was it I called "a load of bull"? It was the claim that "There is no argument that a doubling of CO2 concentrations should give rise to a temperature increase of about 1 degree K", when in fact there's no argument it should be about 3 K and definitely at least 2 K, and quite plausibly more than 4 K. And "models don't work" lies deserve to be called lies simply because they are lies. No one is being mean to rolan for having different opinions, but for stating things that are simply plain wrong and passing them off as fact. People are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.

Wed, 31 Aug 2011 09:59:27 UTC | #865818

rolan's Avatar Comment 26 by rolan

Comment 23 by Alan4discussion What billions of dollars? - Another gross exaggeration.

I was referring to the Carbon Tax legislation which is currently before parliament in Australia. It is a multi-billion dollar cost which due to the nature of the inbuilt compensations and allowances will ultimately line the pockets of multinationals and direct funds offshore for the purchase of carbon credits. (Actually an independent report released today has shown that, due to the structure of the tax, the steel industry will receive a net windfall and the coal industry has no need to change current practices).

Ironically, you may not have noticed, but for the rest of your post we are in agreement about funding policy and technology which directly addresses emissions. The Australian Government is not doing this.

Comment 24 by billzfantazy - thanks

Comment 25 by Jos Gibbons Perhaps I did utter opinions as fact - for that i apologise. The bull number of 1K was actually from the lecture as I was trying to differentiate between the 'raw' effect of CO2 doubling (well understood) and that indicated by estimates of climate sensitivity (arguably - but lets not go there again - less well). I guess I failed in making myself clear. I'd like to find out more about the predictive models - I only seem to be able to find conflicting, divergent ones - but maybe I'm looking in the wrong places. Any pointers appreciated.

Wed, 31 Aug 2011 10:29:59 UTC | #865821

mmurray's Avatar Comment 27 by mmurray

Comment 22 by rolan :

Australia contributes a little over 1.3% of the worlds greenhouse emissions (though it has the highest per-capita emissions - largely due to the disproportionate size of the agriculture and resource industries).

It is also worth noting that the many countries use nuclear power which we don't. While I think that's a good thing from an environmental perspective burning brown coal instead is not helping our per capita emissions.

The reduction of Australia's emissions by 23% per annum by 2020 (estimated by the Government in the new multi-billion dollar tax plan) will not have a significant affect on global atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

I am being a bit disingenuous here. Of course it may give us the higher-moral-ground from which we can convince others to effect change - do-as-I-do and all that.

Thanks. I was just about to point that out :-). Various people in the climate negotiation sphere do say that our per capita emissions are thrown back at us when we argue for change. I was also going to point out that the impact of global warming could be higher on us than other countries. We don't really need more droughts. So we do need that change to occur.

Michael

Wed, 31 Aug 2011 11:01:54 UTC | #865829

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 28 by Jos Gibbons

Comment #865821 by rolan

Perhaps I did utter opinions as fact

The problem is you uttered factually false claims as if factually true. "It's about 1 K" isn't an opinion.

The number of 1K was from the lecture as I was trying to differentiate between the 'raw' effect of CO2 doubling and that indicated by estimates of climate sensitivity

In the context of your original post what mattered was what real sensitivity results since we live in a world with feedbacks and responses, and not what would happen without them. That 1 K is small was something you wanted to make a big deal of. As far as I am concerned, however clear or unclear you made yourself, you represented 1 K as the temperature rise to be expected of doubling CO2.

I'd like to find out more about the predictive models - I only seem to be able to find conflicting, divergent ones

Models diverge a lot, if they include the good ones and the bad ones. In particular, all models which see CO2's greenhouse effect as a non-issue fail miserably in the most data-rich test of models we have, the reconstruction of past climate conditions. If from now on we limit ourselves only to models which pass this test with flying colours, we see many core points of agreement.
The divergence is on the exact size of the sensitivity. As I said before, we can't be very precise about it - but thanks to faster supercomputers, our models can neglect fewer things and use fewer approximations, and we can thus be more precise than in the past. And even obsolete wide error margins precluded a 1 K figure quite a while ago. Sometimes scientists find out the effect of a process, such as evapotranspiration, by making two models differing only in whether they include it. Whether these models reach low-sensitivity or high-sensitivity conclusions matters little to the question of what is the difference due to the process. Bear this in mind when viewing potholer54's discussion of such an evapotranspiration study.
You wanted examples of successful models. The lectures mentioned one of the better ones, MODTRAN. A less than comprehensive list of them is here. Said list does not, for example, include the Sib2 model used in the aforementioned paper.

Wed, 31 Aug 2011 11:52:36 UTC | #865842

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 29 by Alan4discussion

Comment 26 by rolan

I was referring to the Carbon Tax legislation which is currently before parliament in Australia. It is a multi-billion dollar cost which due to the nature of the inbuilt compensations and allowances will ultimately line the pockets of multinationals and direct funds offshore for the purchase of carbon credits. (Actually an independent report released today has shown that, due to the structure of the tax, the steel industry will receive a net windfall and the coal industry has no need to change current practices).

Thank you for the information (above) clarifying of this comment (below):

@20 by rolan - Also Comment 11 by Alan4discussion - Sure, at any cost may be an exaggeration, but in Australia the billions of dollars that will be taken out of the economy to mitigate the negligible contribution (on a global scale) to greenhouse emissions seems disproportionate. (Mind you, the whole approach of the Government in this area is all over the place, so perhaps it's just the implementation not the intention which is flawed).

Clearly paying compensation to polluters is inappropriate. Carbon credits are a fudge and a sop to polluting industries. The principle of "the polluter must pay", should be applied, along with tax credits or grants to get innovative cleaner industries up to speed.

Ironically, you may not have noticed, but for the rest of your post we are in agreement about funding policy and technology which directly addresses emissions. The Australian Government is not doing this.

I had noticed your agreement @20 on the issues I quoted @23, but thank you for the information about the Australian government. (I live in England)

This discussion is primarily about the science of AGW and climate change, but how industry and life styles need to adapt would follow on from that, as much of the obstructive denial is based on a lack of understanding of the available options.

Wed, 31 Aug 2011 13:00:50 UTC | #865862

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 30 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 22 by rolan

I honestly don't know how I managed to rub people up the wrong way with my posts, or are you looking for an argument?

You have "rubbed people up" the wrong way, if that's what you wanna call it, by inaccurately commenting on a subject you appear to have not researched extensively enough, this is a debate that you entered into, you have been called on a number of points that are at odds with the consensus, don't be going all paranoid on us, debate the points you make on the merit you believe they contain. It is a common ploy that the apologist takes on this site, to feel all put upon when the number of comments against them becomes overwhelming or the content become too uncomfortable. Arguments here are not for arguments sake you know?

You seem to be questioning the term negligible and linking it to a claim that I found Jos's posts informative. This isn't even a climate change argument.

Well I see where that might be the case, it was a bit of sarcasm, but where the remark is important to the climate change argument is in the word negligible which you feel is the case because of Oz's so called negligible contribution to the problem. I live in N.Ireland, a population of around 1.6 million, so how small a carbon footprint do we leave, on the grand scale of things that is, perhaps I shouldn't give a hoot either? It isn't really a nation problem, it's an individuals problem, but it is at nation level we must deal with it to get anywhere. No, it's all our problem I'm afraid, we are in it together, that's why we need everyone onboard.

Australia contributes a little over 1.3% of the worlds greenhouse emissions (though it has the highest per-capita emissions - largely due to the disproportionate size of the agriculture and resource industries).

The figure sounds insignificant on it's own, granted, but when it's part of a much larger issue, it all adds up to trouble for everyone. The Earth's problems from AGW will not be directly proportionate for your country in return.

The reduction of Australia's emissions by 23% per annum by 2020 (estimated by the Government in the new multi-billion dollar tax plan) will not have a significant affect on global atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

And what if the whole world keeps that attitude? We are all fucked, you included.

I am being a bit disingenuous here. Of course it may give us the higher-moral-ground from which we can convince others to effect change - do-as-I-do and all that.

At the very least it will, after all, isn't Australia a progressive modern country?

However, it seems to me that there are several things to do (stop selling coal to China, close the dirty brown-coal-fired power plants, use our abundant coastline and sunny hinterland areas for alternative energy, go nuclear etc. etc. ) that would still cost, but have a more direct impact on reducing emissions and bring other benefits.

These are all things to be looked at certainly, but the immediate issue is to convince skeptic/deniers of the reality we are facing and stop them giving succour to the ignorant masses.

And, if you must know, Applied Physics/Computer Science double major, though this line of inquiry is starting to sound rather like an ad-hominem attack.

Hardly an ad hom attack when it was you that first raised the elitist spectre of your qualifications in your first post. But I must say, impressive enough, so you should have no problem understanding everything in Jos' article, unlike myself.

I apologise for appearing to be a bit on the terse side, it's the result of banging ones head off a brick wall in the vain attempt to get a point across on other threads, the crimes of others should not be visited on the innocent.

Wed, 31 Aug 2011 13:40:25 UTC | #865876