the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Denying the Catastrophe

Posted by Jeff Id on October 16, 2010

A very nice essay by Warren Meyer is linked below.  In context is Hegerl’s recent talk highlighted on Bishop Hill where she is quoted as saying:

…What is frustrating to me as a scientist is that the objections raised by the skeptics groups are scientifically so stupid often…it would be really much more fun to fight really interesting assertions.  But it’s often things that often ring reasonable to people who have not background in this but that are scientifically totally with out value. I would find it more interesting to discuss if the sceptics would raise better questions.

To which I of course reply [snip]….

Warren sums it nicely.

—-

Denying the Catastrophe: The Science of the Climate Skeptic’s Position

By WARREN MEYER

In last week’s column, I lamented the devolution of the climate debate into dueling ad hominem attacks, which has led in almost a straight line to the incredible totalitarian vision of the 10:10 climate group’s recent film showing school kids getting blown up for not adhering to the global warming alarmists’ position.

In writing that column, it struck me that it was not surprising that many average folks may be unfamiliar with the science behind the climate skeptic’s position, since it almost never appears anywhere in the press. This week I want to give a necessarily brief summary of the skeptic’s case. There is not space here to include all the charts and numbers; for those interested, this video and slide presentation provides much of the analytical backup.

It is important to begin by emphasizing that few skeptics doubt or deny that carbon dioxide (CO2) is a greenhouse gas or that it and other greenhouse gasses (water vapor being the most important) help to warm the surface of the Earth. Further, few skeptics deny that man is probably contributing to higher CO2 levels through his burning of fossil fuels, though remember we are talking about a maximum total change in atmospheric CO2 concentration due to man of about 0.01% over the last 100 years.

—-

Click the title in the article  for the rest of his essay.

67 Responses to “Denying the Catastrophe”

  1. Brian H said

    Edit note: your title is short an “a”.

  2. Brian H said

    Good article, but I still disagree with the blanket statements that most skeptics agree man’s CO2 emissions have had some warming effect. I’m with G&T on this one: the effects are in principle both miniscule and definitively undeterminable. And will remain so; this is one of those “hard” problems mathematically, in physics, and computationally.

  3. Eric Anderson said

    Thanks, Jeff, I hadn’t seen this essay before so. Warren Meyer is doing some very good practical outreach and some of his writings are extremely good primers for people who are curious but new to the topic — friends and family, city council members, interested teachers, etc.

    My main issue with his position is that I think he cedes too much ground up front (accuracy of initial measurements, ability to know what the initial measurements mean, etc.). However, his general point is very well taken: even if the measurements are scrupulously accurate and we know where, for example, the CO2 increase came from, it still does not constitute a catastrophe by any stretch of the imagination.

    He is also very low key and practical in his demeanor — a great antidote to some of the flaming that goes on. It’s nice to have his voice in the debate and I hope he’ll continue the great work.

  4. Derek said

    I am genuinely, and deeply depressed by the “standards” of most skeptics.

    The above is an excellent case in point.

    When will skeptics realize there is absolutely no point whatsoever in quibbling the (AGW) figures,
    when it is the basic principles / theory that are so obviously wrong.

    “AGW”, “greenhouse theory” should be laughed out of court, where ever, and when ever it is raised.
    “Quibbling the figures” merely gives the stupidity of AGW “science” credence,
    WHAT AN OWN GOAL SO MANY “SKEPTICS” CONTINUALLY KEEP SCORING.

    In reality, AGW is nothing more than a cruel joke, and scam
    by the self interest and greed of many so called “believers”.

    “We” would all do a lot better if “we” actually considered realistically,
    surface heating, retention, and varying later release.
    From there it all follows – there is no AGW “greenhouse effect” – PERIOD.

    Skeptics need to actually be skeptical of the science,
    at present “skeptics” seem mostly to be ineffectual “quibblers”.
    In many cases, I have to wonder WHY………

  5. Kan said

    Hegerel says “…it would be really much more fun to fight really interesting assertions.”

    Yes, I too tire of all the non-interesting assertions. Lets try this one: Humanity (which means all humans, on a global average, living on mother Gaia) would be better off if the global average temperature were 2.3C warmer than it was in 1998.

  6. Brian H said

    Derek;
    Hear, hear! I’m with G&T on this; the physics is bogus, and it’s in principle impossible to model Earth’s climate. I think that, at best, we could put a bet on what’s likely to be a dominant influence of the near future (like a surge in cosmic ray flux and hence reflective shading cloud layers), but that’s as far as it goes.

    Kan;
    Who’s Hegerel? RU on the right blog? But that is a very interesting assertion, and for the record my email sig is

    Help keep the planet Green! Maximize your CO2 and CH4 output!
    Global Warming=More Life; Global Cooling=More Death.

    :)

  7. Derek said

    Thank you Brian H.

    I need to “justify” / explain…

    “We” would all do a lot better if “we” actually considered realistically,
    surface heating, retention, and varying later release.

    A couple of years ago now I did this diagram (and did not realize it’s significance at the time to be honest).

    as justified by,

    From there it all follows – there is no AGW “greenhouse effect” – PERIOD.

    Let me put it another way, as someone else, and I think it was Brian Valentine at Jo Novas blog said words to the effect.
    “What anomaly does that leave for “greenhouse” to explain.”
    I suggest, very, very little, if any at all.

    So, I feel it reasonable, and way overdue to say, stop wasting your time “quibbling the figures”

    Skeptics need to actually be skeptical of the AGW “science” basics / principles, none existent in reality, and never proven “theories”.

  8. Derek said

    I should of added a link to this thread on the GWS forum for further reading.

    http://www.globalwarmingskeptics.info/forums/thread-855.html

    Sorry Jeff, but this is a blog called the air vent,
    my apologies, I needed to “vent”, with the best interests of science (and humanity) at heart obviously.

    Finally, here is a link to lobus motl thread that is a must read regarding
    in which direction, and why climate science (as all sciences) should go.

    http://motls.blogspot.com/2010/03/defending-statistical-methods.html

    Gets off soap box, takes dog for a walk…

  9. Charlie A said

    I see the discourse in the comments section of Forbes is about typical for a discussion of climate change. Lots of trash talk back and forth as to whether 300 to 390 ppm (0.03% to 0.039%) CO2 is a 0.01% increase or a 40% increase.

    I have run into this red herring in my private conversations also (in both directions), and like commenter Fzinkhofer explain by something like “If the prime interest rate goes from 4% to 5% has it increased by 1% or 20%? If I say 1% and you say 20%, which of us is a pants-on-fire liar?”

    Another semantic problem is “positive feedback”. Many engineers recoil instinctively when told that the climate system is dominated by positive feedback mechanisms. The context that is too often missing is that the positive feedbacks (however much they exist) are working against the very large feedback of the increase in radiation caused by an increase in temperature. The overall total feedback is still negative.

    I get very, very suspicious when someone overstates the argument and try to avoid doing it myself. Unfortunately, there is much more debate in the climate world than there is science. Unsupported claims of increases in extreme weather is an example of a debating point rather then observed fact. Unfortunately, the IPCC reports have too many debating points and not enough science and analysis of what is known vs. what is suspected.

  10. Charlie A said

    Before anybody quibbles about my numbers of 300 to 390 ppm being 40% increase and 4 to 5% being a 20 percent increase, I just want to note that conventional calculations would have them being 30% and 25% increases (or 90ppm or 0.009%; and 1% increases).

    But I was using my climate science model for the previous calculations. :)

  11. Paul Linsay said

    #7. Applause. Absolutely correct. Averaging incoming solar radiation over the entire globe and then computing a greenhouse effect is nonsense. Local solar flux is enough to boil water at the equator and would keep the earth quite hot even to high latitudes if not for other effects that COOL the atmosphere.

    This is in keeping with the unphysical concept of a global average temperature that doesn’t exist in a meaningful way because temperatures vary so widely over the earth’s surface. The dynamics of the ocean-atmosphere system is driven by local solar heating not some global average.

  12. DeWitt Payne said

    Oh, please. G&T is a bad joke. Just because you can’t solve something exactly doesn’t mean you can’t solve it at all. Simple models do have some validity. As Box said: “All models are wrong, but some are useful.”

    On page 59 of G&T they discuss a typical energy balance diagram a la Kiehl and Trenberth and claim it has no physical meaning.

    Climatologic radiation balance diagrams are nonsense, since they
    1. cannot represent radiation intensities, the most natural interpretation of the arrows
    depicted in Figure 23, as already explained in Section 2.1.2 and Section 2.1.5

    But if you go back to 2.1.2 and 2.1.5, there is, in fact, no explanation of why the arrows cannot represent integrated radiation intensities. What G&T ignore is that the numbers in those diagrams can be and are measured in the field. Since their statement is nonsense, the rest of their hand waving, straw men and red herrings are meaningless. They actually have the nerve to claim in Section 4 that the MHD equations are useful for describing the behavior of the atmosphere. Last time I checked, most of the atmosphere was not ionized.

  13. Kan said

    Brian

    Hegerel is quoted in the post above from a speech she gave. I also had read the whole speech.

  14. Derek said

    DeWitt Payne said
    October 17, 2010 at 12:10 pm
    ” What G&T ignore is that the numbers in those diagrams can be and are measured in the field. ”

    Really, go on your having a laugh arn’t you. ?

    Firstly you mean the sky, but
    go on give examples of the figures in the typical Kiehl and Trenberth energy balance diagram
    that are actually measured,
    not modeled or guesstimated. ?
    Then explain how these really accurate annual measurements (sick joke) are then made into per second W/m2 figures ACCURATELY (again sick joke).
    AND, while your at it, why not explain how life’s subtractions from the energy balance diagrams is WHOLELY absent.
    AND, explain how these diagrams show
    a) things that vary on scales of less than one year, and
    b) things that vary on scales of more than one year
    (solar cycles and oceanic currents and phases for example, as well as lunar orbit cycles / phases effecting tidal regimes).

    Talk about red herrings and hand waving.

  15. Derek said

    Jeff Id – Please look at the thread title, I’m already thinking of this thread as the
    Cat’s trophy thread… :-)

  16. timetochooseagain said

    I guess some people will never accept the “basics” upon which virtually everyone agrees. Nothing one can do about that.

    I wonder what the “warmer” equivalent of GHE disbelievers are on their side? People who think that AGW is causing Earthquakes?

  17. Brian H said

    #12;
    “Just because you can’t solve something exactly doesn’t mean you can’t solve it at all. Simple models do have some validity.”
    In this case, where the actual equations are 4th power non-linear, it does mean you can’t solve it (beyond very short-term approximations). Treating 5° cubes as black boxes is laughable. The GCMs have no hope of even approximating phase-change H2O heat transport by other than parameterized plugs, e.g.

    Simple models have validity only if and when something simple is going on. So assuming it just begs the question.

    As G&T say, video-gamed “scenarios” are no way to run a railroad, much less the planet.

  18. Brian H said

    Derek;
    Yeah, I suggested he check it in the first post! It’s weird; the original article has the word right in the text copy, but wrong in the URL. Jeff is at least consistent! ;)

    Kan;
    Sorry, for some reason my Page Find function didn’t work.
    IAC, I agree with your contentious assertion! Warm eras have been boom times for humanity and virtually all other species. Global chills, not so much.

  19. Jeff Id said

    I saw your comment Brian, but was having fun with hockey and other things yesterday.

    I fixed it.

  20. Jeff Id said

    Like this

    http://media.photobucket.com/image/cat%20trophy/Mrs_Finn/catsass.jpg?o=13

  21. Brian H said

    Kan;
    I note that it didn’t help that both you and Jeff misspelled Hegerl. (It’s not “Hegerel”!)

  22. Carrick said

    Derek:

    When will skeptics realize there is absolutely no point whatsoever in quibbling the (AGW) figures,
    when it is the basic principles / theory that are so obviously wrong.

    Jeff, this is exactly sort of rancid dreck that I believe Hegerl was describing.

    How do you make any progress with people who endorse imaginary laws of physics?

  23. Jeff Id said

    Brian,

    I fixed that too when it was written my mental note to go back and check it fell out my ear.

    BTW, she is still wrong no matter what her spelling.

  24. Carrick said

    Jeff, Warren Meyer appears to be wrong:

    It is important to begin by emphasizing that few skeptics doubt or deny that carbon dioxide (CO2) is a greenhouse gas or that it and other greenhouse gasses (water vapor being the most important) help to warm the surface of the Earth

    There are plenty of skeptics who deny this statement, including some on this thread. Unless you want to invent another name besides “skeptic: for that group.

  25. Jeff Id said

    22, Carrick,

    If you pick the worst of a crowd to argue against, you always win. Maple Leaf at Bart Verheggen’s blog is a great example as is my recent post with the wild pro AGW guy. It is a childish trait of mine that is becoming boring but a fun argument/discussion is sometimes a good argument/discussion. If that’s what Gabriel meant, then she’s right, but there are plenty of us who regularly make arguments she/they cannot answer.

    Playing those who question the masters as idiots only encourages me to do a little more mocking of their overconfidence in understanding. I’m certain that one thing which will go down in history will be the complete lack of grasp of some of the basic principles of climate.

    History may paint it as reasonable, it may be painted as a ‘momentary lapse of reason’ or it may just be a minor point, but it is missing IMHO.

    When I read the dreck written by the uneducated who don’t want to believe CO2 does anything the comment gets skipped. And I still say it may do nothing measurable, mostly b/c I haven’t worked the calcs my way yet. I’m not a believer even in the 1C calcs.

  26. Jeff Id said

    I agree that there are plenty of skeptics who would be more appropriately described as non scientific. The basis for CO2 warming is clear and obvious incontrovertible science. The magnitude is another story.

  27. Carrick said

    Jeff ID:

    I agree that there are plenty of skeptics who would be more appropriately described as non scientific. The basis for CO2 warming is clear and obvious incontrovertible science. The magnitude is another story.

    This is a good way of putting it. “Nonscientific objectors” would include some who are objecting to the science because they disagree with the proposed remediation by socialist leaning governments, or with other issues such as whether the putative heating might even lead to net negative consequences at all.

    In terms of the magnitude, I think we can both agree that the direct CO2 sensitivity is somewhere around 1-1.5 °C/doubling. Most of the “interesting physics” is in how the environment responds.

    One of these is water vapor feedback, which under pretty simple assumptions, can be computed reasonably precisely (I think it leads to a 2.5°C/doubling). The rub is in all of the other feedbacks….both negative and positive that aren’t correctly captured by the climate models.

    (Short version of all of this is you can believe in AGW without believing in CAGW.)

  28. Jeff Id said

    Carrick,

    Even the 1 – 1.5 is in question IMO, I’ve run the basic calcs that lead to the number and notice some factors missing from the calc including upwelling heat from the core. I also question albedo numbers and whether the orientation of the planet to the sun has some effect. All that said, I admit that the number is in the realm of reason.

  29. DeWitt Payne said

    Re: Brian H (Oct 17 14:14),

    As G&T say, video-gamed “scenarios” are no way to run a railroad, much less the planet.

    You’re changing the subject. The thrust of G&T is that CO2 has no effect at all and that even if it did the magnitude of the effect cannot be calculated or measured at all. That’s simply wrong. The fundamentals are simple. Sunlight is absorbed and IR is emitted. A simple one dimensional grey atmosphere model is, in fact, a surprisingly good approximation. The details of the molecular spectra are very well known. If you have a vertical sounding of temperature and humidity, numerical approximations of the radiative transfer equations can be used to calculate emission and absorption spectra fairly precisely for clear sky and somewhat less well with cloud cover. You can then measure the atmospheric spectrum at high resolution and get good agreement with the calculated spectrum. You can also measure total emission in and out and get fairly good agreement with theory. It is also possible to calculate to a fair approximation what’s happening now and will happen over the next few days over large areas with approximate numerical solutions of the Navier-Stokes equations. It’s done every day by the numerical weather forecasting models.

    IPCC scenarios and modeling over decades is a separate question as is the size of the grid boxes. Policy is a political question, the answer to which depends much more on risk/benefit calculations and energy policy than radiative transfer and climate models. The warmers want you to concentrate on the IPCC report’s WGI section. They are on reasonably solid ground there and they can use people like G&T to make legitimate skeptics look bad by association. Worse, you’re not even concentrating on the weakest part of WGI, aerosols. That way the far more important for policy and far more questionable WG II and the truly idiotic WG III reports go largely unchallenged.

  30. stan said

    Slightly off topic, but applicable — Jeff, you need to read “The Big Short” by Michael Lewis. http://www.amazon.com/Big-Short-Inside-Doomsday-Machine/dp/0393072231

    The parallels of the hubris of Wall Street to the hubris of climate science alarmists is scary. Differences — the finance experts are much smarter and included the best stats geniuses coming out of MIT et al. And the disaster they wreaked is smaller than the economic disaster advocated by the climate alarmists. But the failure of experts and their financial models will resonate for anyone who has examined all the gaping holes in the alarmist case. Also the willingness of the sheep to defer to the “experts”.

  31. kdk33 said

    (Short version of all of this is you can believe in AGW without believing in CAGW.)

    And you can “disagree with the proposed remediation by socialist leaning governments” and/or speculate that “the putative heating might [not] even lead to net negative consequences”

    Without bein un-scientific.

    Just to be clear.

  32. Brian H said

    DeWitt;
    Re-emitted photons are still just the same one photon, and only a minute percentage are re-absorbed by the surface. And there is very little photon fingerprint ping-pong between CO2 molecules; a warmed CO2 molecule is far more likely to dump that heat thermally or by blackbody radiation than by fingerprint emission. In any case the only net result is that the outgoing photon was temporarily absorbed, not transmitted immediately.

    It is as Schach said, “… the radiative component of heat transfer of CO2, though relevant at the temperatures in combustion chambers, can be neglected at atmospheric temperatures. The influence of carbonic acid on the Earth’s climates is definitively unmeasurable.”

    There’s no there there.

  33. timetochooseagain said

    27-The figure of 2.5 C per doubling with the water vapor feedback sounds about right to me, at least as far as that is about what the WV feedback is thought to amount to by the “mainstream”. I seem to recall reading somewhere that the water vapor feedback in most models would, by itself, correspond to an f somewhere around .5, and since the sensitivity is S(no feedback)/1-f, the sensitivity should be about doubled, and what do you know, the 2.5 C per doubling is right in the middle of the range (1 to 1.5)*2=2 to 3.

    Unfortunately I cannot provide a specific reference for the feedback factor associated with WV in models which is reasonably current. The figure of about .5 is quote in the original Lindzen “iris” paper (2001) but I am not clear on it’s origin or how accurate this still is, or isn’t.

  34. DeWitt Payne said

    Re: Brian H (Oct 17 22:03),

    a warmed CO2 molecule is far more likely to dump that heat thermally or by blackbody radiation

    Say what?

    I’ve already said that the probability of emission compared to collision for an excited molecule is low, on the order on 0.01%. Molecules can have continuum spectra due to collisional induced absorption, but it peaks at much longer wavelength than 15 um and, except for water vapor, the strength is so low that it is usually neglected. A molecule in a gas is not and never will be a black body radiator. If the concentration and temperature are high enough, the peak of the band will follow a black body spectrum because Planck function defines maximum emission, but it’s the result of summation of line emission.

    Schach is ill informed. The emission characteristics of CO2 in the atmosphere is quite evident in the observed spectra.

  35. Carrick said

    kdk33, I agree… as long as you don’t argue against fundamental physics because e.g. of remediation proposed by socialist governments (or argue in favor of CAGW because you do).

    Either way you are “assuming the conclusion,” which is fundamentally irrational behavior. (Radiative and/or atmospheric physics by itself does not imply CAGW. Perhaps nothing implies that.)

  36. Carrick said

    Jeff ID:

    . I also question albedo numbers and whether the orientation of the planet to the sun has some effect.

    Arthur P Smith discusses some of that here.

    The albedo is pretty interesting because it is in principle a much bigger effect, and it is why I am so interested in understand the atmospheric ocean oscillations (if they affect albedo, they affect global energy balance and hence equilibrium temperature).

  37. Carrick said

    Sorry about the unbalanced link.

  38. Jeff Id said

    Thanks Carrick.

    For other readers, my comment only affects the magnitude of the 1-1.5C not the absolute existence of the warming effect. It also appears cloud based negative feedbacks are a real possibility, that would reduce the base CO2 number.

  39. Steve Fitzpatrick said

    Carrick,
    “One of these is water vapor feedback, which under pretty simple assumptions, can be computed reasonably precisely (I think it leads to a 2.5°C/doubling). The rub is in all of the other feedbacks….both negative and positive that aren’t correctly captured by the climate models.”

    Yes, but there is more to it than just uncertainty in in all the other feedbacks. The current (best estimate) radiative forcing from well mixed greenhouse gases is on the order of 3 watts per square meter. The current measured rise above pre-industrial temperatures is on the order of 0.85C. Or 0.283 degree per watt. A sensitivity of >2.5 degrees per doubling (that is, >0.67 degrees per watt), means that the current net radiative forcing (including all feed-backs and off-sets) has to be about 0.85/0.67 =< 1.27 watts per square meter. This is only possible if a combination of ocean heat absorption and man-made aerosols is negating 3 – 1.27 = ~1.73 watts per square meter. The measured ocean heat uptake (NOAA website) since 1955 amounts to a little under 0.2 watts per square meter (averaged over the whole of the Earth), and recent ocean heat accumulation (post 2003) appears low, certainly 1.5 watts per square meter.

    For high climate sensitivity to be correct, a combination of factors all have to be present: strong net positive feed-backs, ocean heat accumulation, and large aerosol off-sets. Ocean heat accumulation is now reasonably constrained by ARGO, but feed-backs and aerosol off-sets remain both very poorly defined. If aerosol effects could be constrained to a reasonably narrow range, then net feedbacks and true climate sensitivity would be simultaneously constrained. IMO, accurately defining all climate feed-backs is far more difficult than accurately measuring aerosol effects. The simplest (and fastest) way to determine climate sensitivity is to accurately measure aerosols.

  40. Steve Fitzpatrick said

    “and recent ocean heat accumulation (post 2003) appears low, certainly 1.5 watts per square meter.”

    Should have read: “and recent ocean heat accumulation (post 2003) appears low, certainly <0.2 watt per square meter, leaving 1.5 watts per square meter for aerosol off-set."

  41. kim said

    I guess, Steve, moonshine isn’t strong enough, eh?
    =============

  42. Eric Anderson said

    Steve, I haven’t looked at your numbers to confirm exactly, but the use of aerosols in the models is a very important point. Namely, the CAGW scenario going forward for the next century is *not* what was seen this past century. Thus other ad hoc items, like cooling from aerosols, are added in to hindcast. It’s OK to hindcast — you have to do so to make the model credible — but you need to be very clear about your assumptions, namely there was a countervailing cooling effect in the 20th century that we are assuming won’t exist in the 21st century. (Plus the other massive assumption, that we have any idea what would anyway). And yet the models continue to run warm. In order to believe in a large warmup, you have to not only assume that emissions will continue and that your theory about them causing warming is correct, but that something will be different this time around than what happened over the last century. This is a much harder sell, but it is what needs to be sold for CAGW to attain.

    The bottom line is we have essentially no reason to believe that the models are correct in terms of predicting long term temperatures. The burden is on the supporters to demonstrate skill with the models, not on everyone else to keep having to beat back the numerous models and scenarios, all of which are, at best, crude approximations.

  43. Andrew said

    39-“If aerosol effects could be constrained to a reasonably narrow range, then net feedbacks and true climate sensitivity would be simultaneously constrained. IMO, accurately defining all climate feed-backs is far more difficult than accurately measuring aerosol effects. The simplest (and fastest) way to determine climate sensitivity is to accurately measure aerosols.”

    This is true if and only if we also know all the other forcings to a reasonable degree of accuracy. This includes natural cloud variations like those often mentioned by Roy Spencer, which may be in principle unknowable-at least when it comes to the past before adequate observation. However, it is true that aerosols are a large factor in the uncertainty of the estimates derived from the assumption that we already know to a reasonable degree all the important forcings. So less uncertainty in them, less uncertainty in the estimates based on that assumption. Eliminate the assumption, and the uncertainty becomes larger, but the case were aerosols are constrained is less uncertain than without them constrained, still.

  44. DeWitt Payne said

    Re: DeWitt Payne (Oct 18 04:49),

    Schach is ill informed. The emission characteristics of CO2 in the atmosphere is quite evident in the observed spectra.

    Example here from Grant W. Petty, A First Course in Atmospheric Radiation, 2nd edition. Note the dip centered at 667 cm-1 in the spectra at 20 km looking down and the strong emission in the same spectral region from the ground looking up.

  45. Kenneth Fritsch said

    I am wondering why we should be taking one comment made by Gabbie Hegerl in her slide presentation and not looking at what the entire presentation was all about. Her comment was a throw away reply to a question after she made her presentation.

    I scanned through the video of her presentation and that presentation leaves many more questions than that throw away comment.

    She starts out in her introduction laying out the basics physics of GHGs and climate warming. She presents absolutely nothing that a thoughtful skeptic would oppose.

    She then defends the IPCC as an organization that gives all science positions equal opportunity. She points to the embarrassment of glaciergate to the IPCC and then says it happened because no one paid attention to the details. She then presents evidence for global warming all or nearly all that comes from the IPCC official reviews of the science.

    My question is why she spent so much time hyping the IPCC and showing slides from its official reports? If she cared to engaged the skeptics (I think she was merely using her presentation to make the consensus case for a group of college students and others in academia) I would have thought she might have given more specific example and revealed how the IPCC arrived at its uncertainty ratings. I suspect that Hegerl is a mathematician who works with climate models so instead of giving a summary of the IPCC findings why did she not concentrate on the climate models and indicate the uncertainty of the results coming from these model?

  46. Carrick said

    Steve:

    Yes, but there is more to it than just uncertainty in in all the other feedbacks

    But that is a separate issue.

    You can compute the radiative forcing associated with CO2 in the laboratory. You can compute the direct water vapor feedback using atmospheric physics and a Blackadar-styled model. It’s very possible and probably that other feedbacks (and forcings) are important.

    It may well be the others are important, but the “hole” you have to climate out of for no AGW for example is 2.5°C/doubling of CO.

    “and recent ocean heat accumulation (post 2003) appears low, certainly 1.5 watts per square meter.”

    See my comments on other threads about atmospheric-ocean oscillations modulating the radiative balance. Without fully understanding the physics of the atmospheric-ocean oscillations, it’s my position that it is simply not possible to separate CO2 forcings from more pedestrian decadal-scale variability. The smallest period I’d be personally comfortable in examining would be 30 years, and even that may be to short.

  47. Carrick said

    Arg! Try this:

    It may well be the others are important, but the hole you have to climb out of for no AGW for example is 2.5°C/doubling of CO.

  48. KuhnKat said

    Jeff Id,

    “When I read the dreck written by the uneducated who don’t want to believe CO2 does anything the comment gets skipped.”

    Of course it does SOMETHING. Everything does something. Some day we might even have it quantized!!

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  49. Steve Fitzpatrick said

    Carrack #47,

    I do not (and would never) suggest no AGW from GHG’s added to the atmosphere, that strikes me as essentially impossible.

    But I do not agree that you can’t accurately evaluate the system once you have accurate ocean heat and aerosol data; it is really just a heat balance after all. How long it takes to generate a reasonably representative picture of the overall long-term sensitivity (to “see” the potentially different sensitivity under different phases of natural oscillations, etc.) is a subject for discussion, of course. Some might argue that you need >1000 years of good data to capture very long term cycles (like MWP/LIA). But I suspect that you can get very useful information about climate sensitivity with much shorter periods.

    WRT having to climb out of a “hole” of 2.5 C/doubling: I agree some warming is going to happen with rising CO2, and warming to date suggests something like 1.2 – 1.3 C per doubling. So I think the “hole” is more like 2.5 – 1.3(CO2 alone) = 1.2 degrees per doubling. I think it is perfectly plausible that changes in cloud feedback and changes in tropospheric heat transport from increasing cloud formation/increasing rainfall could easily offset this much amplification.

    I think the simplest (and therefore most likely) explanation for the large difference between the observed temperature increase and the increase you would expect with current radiative forcing, assuming high sensitivity, is… well, that the assumed high sensitivity is just wrong. Suggestions of a 25-30 year ocean lag constant combined with vast aerosol off-sets (and both required for the IPCC projections to be reasonable) strike me as far fetched, especially in light of post 2003 ARGO data.

    I would be willing to wager a fair sum of money on this, but I would probably die long before the bet could be settled.

  50. John F. Pittman said

    Well JeffID, I guess Hegerl wasn’t talking about tAV. She was coordinating lead author of Chapter 9, IPCC AR4. We have had all sorts of intersting things to say and question wrt to Chapter 9. ;)

  51. Carrick said

    Steve Fitzpatrick:

    But I do not agree that you can’t accurately evaluate the system once you have accurate ocean heat and aerosol data; it is really just a heat balance after all

    It is a radiative heat balance, and that is actually the problem.

    Atmospheric-ocean oscillations (among other things) modulate albedo, and do so over periods from a few years to decades. Unless you can model and remove the effect of the oscillations on the radiative heat balance, you can’t say very much about CO2 forcings for example. One way to model this, would be to use GCMs, which you’ve already asserted in other threads are not reliable (I agree they aren’t reliable for this application). So what other tools are available?

    If you wanted to look from 2003 to current for example, how do you remove the confounding effects of the oscillations on temperature/radiative heat balance/etc.? I think in absence a model, one can’t.

  52. Brian H said

    #44;
    I’ll make the charitable assumption that you aren’t deliberately misreading and straw-manning Schach. He says nowhere that CO2 doesn’t emit, only that “the radiative component of heat transfer by CO2 … can be neglected at atmospheric temperatures.”

    He is an authoritative concrete engineering thermodynamics author. I’d doubt very much that he’s the one who’s ill-informed.

  53. Steve Fitzpatrick said

    Carrick #51,

    “..how do you remove the confounding effects of the oscillations on temperature/radiative heat balance/etc.? I think in absence a model, one can’t.”

    How about we launch a few more (and perhaps much more accurate) Earth radiation balance satellites… 10 more if that is what it takes? If it is just an energy balance, you have only to make the box holding the system big enough that the total budget is accurate and complete: ocean heat accumulation, ougoing LW radiation, incoming radiation, outgoing short wave. Just measure it all, it can’t hide!

    Since some people (and worse, some politicians!) are talking about investing multiple trillions of taxpayer dollars to reduce CO2 emissions, wouldn’t it be worthwhile to really understand the climate sensitivity with a reasonable level of certainty? The modelers can gaze at their code for eternity, and that won’t answer the only question that matters: what is the energy balance and how does it change with increasing CO2?

    I do not understand the reluctance in climate science to make solid measurements; I have never come across a field like it.

  54. Carrick said

    Steve Fitzpatrick:

    How about we launch a few more (and perhaps much more accurate) Earth radiation balance satellites… 10 more if that is what it takes? If it is just an energy balance, you have only to make the box holding the system big enough that the total budget is accurate and complete: ocean heat accumulation, ougoing LW radiation, incoming radiation, outgoing short wave. Just measure it all, it can’t hide!

    Even if you can measure the change in albedo, without a model you have no way to attribute it’s origin. Data in the absence of explanation does not equal understanding.

    Since some people (and worse, some politicians!) are talking about investing multiple trillions of taxpayer dollars to reduce CO2 emissions, wouldn’t it be worthwhile to really understand the climate sensitivity with a reasonable level of certainty? The modelers can gaze at their code for eternity, and that won’t answer the only question that matters: what is the energy balance and how does it change with increasing CO2?

    The proposed political/economic remediations have nothing to do with the validity of the underlying science. As to the second, you have a strange notion of how we learn things in science. You actually think we learn anything in the absence of models?

  55. Steve Fitzpatrick said

    Carrick,

    I have no strange notions about how things are learned in science; I have been at it for a very long time. I do not think that science progresses in the absence of models; and I have developed a fair number of my own. When a model is right, it does not just make clear something had been confusing, it explains things that had not even been considered related to the subject in question. A good model is a thing of beauty. All rational human understanding of reality is based on a model or combination of models.

    But neither do I think that science progresses using models in the absence of data which can (and is indeed usually designed to) challenge and test the validity of a proposed model. And that absence of quality data to challenge the models is the situation I see too often in climate science. As things stand now, no GCM can be shown to be simply wrong because we don’t have good enough data. The IPCC says the ~95% confidence range for current net radiative forcing is 0.4 watt to 2.4 watts per square meter, so every model is consistent with the data… just choose the net forcing you like. (Yes, I know it is more complicated, but I think not that much more complicated; I know too well how people squeeze, contort, and band-aid crappy models and crappy data to make their models remain “credible”.) If you have rock solid data on radiative fluxes and ocean heat, you immediately constrain the net forcing at any particular time and over any specified period to a very narrow range; this will make the bad models die and the good ones evolve. Surly you can see this.

    The only way we humans are ever going to understand the Earth’s climate (really understand it) is via a valid model of the involved physical processes and how they interact. The question is how do you develop a valid model? I submit that the current approach is not working. The current models seem to me little more than hideous kludges…. all for lack of good data.

  56. Carrick said

    Steve F:

    I do not think that science progresses in the absence of models; and I have developed a fair number of my own
    Then there’s circularity in your reasoning:

    You can’t have it both ways. If the models are bad, we learn little from the data. And more data won’t help in the absence of better models.

    But neither do I think that science progresses using models in the absence of data which can (and is indeed usually designed to) challenge and test the validity of a proposed model.

    Of course nobody is saying that. What I said was in fact the opposite.

    As things stand now, no GCM can be shown to be simply wrong because we don’t have good enough data.

    With respect to atmospheric-ocean oscillations, you are mistaken… the models can be (and in fact are) falsified by available data..

    Furthermore, not only do the models fail to adequately reproduce atmospheric-ocean oscillations, an examination of the limitation of the models (too coarse spatial discretizations in particular) reveals that one wouldn’t expect them to adequately reproduce atmospheric-ocean oscillations.

    Which leads us back to my critique of your use of data from 2003-current, which clearly encapsulates a significant contribution from short-period oscillations, while at the same time being so very ready to admit the failings of the model.

    As I said, this is a circular argument. You will need better models than are available if you’re going to use short-periods to estimate temperature sensitivity associated with CO2 forcings.

    Admitting the inadequacy of the models, merely boxes you in, since the logical conclusion of that is … use longer period trends to compare models to data.

    (A technicality, but an important one… you can’t assume that atmospheric-ocean oscillations are strictly an additive contribution to e.g. global mean temperature. It probably will be necessary to accurately model short-period oscillations to accurately predict the response of climate to CO2 forcings.)

  57. Derek said

    From a (post-graduate) “uneducated dreck” (btw – that’s a very cheap ad hom An example of Dim Witted comments a go-go I would say..) commentator on this thread.
    Firstly I have, since I graduated, received (recognized) further education in several subject areas at below graduate level.
    AND,
    I have undertaken much (officially unrecognized) education from far higher qualified (ie extensively educated beyond graduate level) people,
    directly, by personal communication (emails / pms, etc), and indirectly via the internet (reading web pages, blogs, etc).

    Admitting to skipping comments from certain “classes” of posters is at best snobbery, but more realistically at least blinkered,
    if not in the awful truth of the matter, plain and simply evidence of consciously being in denial.
    Such ad homs and skipping are neither “educated”, civil, polite, a good basis for discussion, nor is it, most importantly, scientific.

    I note that my main points raised in earlier posts on this thread have been completely ignored, and not considered.
    I will re-raise one point, and point out an obvious failing of another posters reply making a point that is so, so, very basic, and yes, undeniable.
    Yet, and this is exactly the point of my “I have to wonder WHY…” comment earlier,
    none of the “appropriately educated scientists to understand” here have admitted to picking up on, or actually have picked up on.

    Re-raising a previously made, and since ignored point, in regard of the global energy budgets.
    “why not explain how life’s subtractions from the energy balance diagrams is WHOLLY absent.”
    The point I raise is simple enough to understand, I will illustrate it by using plankton as an example.
    Sunlight penetrates the earth’s oceans (as shown by the earlier linked to Segelstein 1981 MS thesis plot).
    Plankton are the base of the oceanic food chains, they are eaten by many differing types and sizes of fishes, and other life in the sea.
    Sardines, sprats, spring to mind. Bigger fish, and life then eats the smaller fish and life that feed on the plankton, tuna, salmon, and mackerel for example.
    So, sunlight is taken out of the diagrams by life, on land and in the sea, but this is not represented at all in the energy budgets.
    This planet is not a dead planet, as it would have to be for the energy budgets at present to even be vaguely correct.
    More of my “uneducated dreck” further reading on such global energy budgets can be found at this thread at GWS,

    http://www.globalwarmingskeptics.info/forums/thread-609.html

    Snappily titled, ” Do Global Energy budgets make sense. ???”

    Pointing out an obvious failing.
    DeWitt Payne said October 18, 2010 at 1:36 pm
    Example here – link – http://i165.photobucket.com/albums/u43/gplracerx/PettyFig8-2.jpg
    from Grant W. Petty, A First Course in Atmospheric Radiation, 2nd edition. Note the dip centered at 667 cm-1 in the spectra at 20 km looking down and
    the strong emission in the same spectral region from the ground looking up.

    The whole purpose of these types of plots is to convey an energy flow direction to the reader.
    Since when did measuring the intensity of radiation give it a vector, or direction.
    Furthermore, confusing this supposed vector (direction of radiation) with a heat or energy flow is a gross and basic mistake.
    Some even then go as far as applying the laws of energy conservation to such “energy flows”, what a basic error.
    Maybe in the further post graduate education “you” have received, the laws of radiation intensity conservation,
    but I as an “uneducated dreck” have not. ??????

    BUT, such a basic error is necessary for the illusion of the greenhouse effect to be “believed”.
    This error was most famously “first” committed by Gavin Schmidt, and has been repeated so often, by so, so many since.
    They have the temerity, the arrogance they can pull it off, and in no small amounts, the stupidity to think they will not be caught out,
    to call themselves properly educated scientists who understand, and it is the “uneducated drecks”, who you should not even read their comments apparently, that do not understand.
    They take every opportunity to tell us so, in no uncertain terms.
    See this thread so far..

    BTW – To the best of my understanding at present,
    the spectral plots DeWitt Payne linked to, will be able to be traced back to NASA..and then MODTRAN,
    rather than actually having been observed in reality.
    Bits are observed, ie the whole or overall reading, but the spectra are modeled.
    You, in effect, take an overall reading that MODTRAN then tells what it is by wavelength you measured.
    That is why the spectras from MODTRAN, and as used in GCMs, and so plentifully put around the net, are all so similar.
    They are all modeled from the same source (American Navy – keepers and home of MODTRAN),
    unless the measurements are taken in a closed flask (BUT THEY ARE INDIVIDUAL SPECTRA)……
    Once you spot this it is unmissable, it is a neat trick though, that has fooled / hoodwinked many.

  58. Steve Fitzpatrick said

    Carrick,

    “If the models are bad, we learn little from the data. And more data won’t help in the absence of better models.”

    I do not see the logic here at all. It is true that more uncertain, noisy data will not help, but I think more certain data will help. The present situation is that beyond a few specific issues (like your example of infidelity to observed short term oscillations) there is not adequate data to constrain/validate/invalidate any of the models. We are blinded to most, and perhaps the most important, of the potential inaccuracies in the models by the uncertainty in our measurements of the Earth’s energy balance. The data is comically bad: 0.4 watt to 2.4 watts per square meter net current radiative forcing. This huge window allows different models to diagnose a wide range of both long term and short term climate sensitivities; these different sensitivities are all related to differences in the modeled ocean heat uptake and assumed aerosol offsets… differences in heat balance. They can’t all be right, and most (perhaps all) must be quite wrong.

    If our knowledge of the Earth’s actual heat balance (or imbalance) is very uncertain, then I do not think it will ever be possible to show that a specific model’s response to an imbalance is clearly incorrect. As you say, we could just wait for 50 years, but this does not address the very real need to validate/invalidate models much sooner. If there were a major volcanic eruption tomorrow (Krakatoa scale), the resulting radiative imbalance would rise far above the uncertainty, and I believe people could finally make some progress on model validation… since ARGO would accurately measure ocean response and limb measurements of the stratosphere would accurately capture the applied (large) radiative forcing. Such an event would tightly constrain both ocean lag and short term sensitivity, and these together would constrain long term sensitivity.

    You may be right that more finely gridded models would better simulate the short term oscillations in the system, but maybe not. And you may be right that the current infidelity with short term variation shows model inadequacies which could impact the diagnosed long term sensitivity. My concern is that people continue to point at the long term model projections, and act as if these were validated. They are not. I think that much of the time, effort, and cost to reach a sufficiently small grid spacing to perhaps simulate short term oscillations could be better spent on improving the accuracy of the global heat budget data.

    I suspect we will just have to agree to disagree on this one.

  59. Carrick said

    Steve Fitzpatrick:

    I do not see the logic here at all

    Then there is something you are missing. There is logic here.

    I am considering two effects that are influencing temperature, short-period climate fluctuations associated with atmospheric ocean oscillations that are superimposed on a slow variation in temperature (“secular trend”) associated with CO2 forcings.

    You can’t say anything about the secular drift unless you’ve measured for long enough of a period that you can short-term climate variability from the secular trend component.

    That’s standard signal processing theory.

  60. Carrick said

    I should mention you can separate the components if you have an accurate model. Since you are dismissing the models out right, it doesn’t look like there’s much left to do except use long enough intervals that the confounding effects from short-period variability are minimized.

  61. kim said

    Or do both. Steve doesn’t dismiss the models outright; he leaves the possibility that one might be right, and one certainly could be right. But constraining as he suggests is useful also and maybe more cost effective at the moment than microscoping the grid computationally. Is it the case that the flaw in the models has been exposed before the data that could improve them has been generated? Or is the irony premature?
    ==========

  62. Carrick said

    Kim, there are already data demonstrate the models can’t reproduce short-period oscillations. You don’t need new data to demonstrate something you already know to be true, and for which there is a ready explanation as to why.

    I agree with Steve that simply improving the spatial/temporal resolution of the models is not guaranteed to fix the problem (you also need better models of cloud physics for example on that scale).

    In general, the problem for climate models becomes progressively more difficult as you refine the spatial resolution… approximations that may “work” at some level on a coarser grid are doomed to fail when you try to e.g., resolve individual convective cells (one of the many issues is stability, as anybody who’s done hydrodynamic modeling knows).

  63. Steve Fitzpatrick said

    Carrick,

    I understand perfectly what you are saying about “two effects”, references to signal processing theory are not needed.

    Of course, sort term variation can mask a long term trend. But good data always constrains to some degree, and bad data never does. With good data, the longer the observation period, the tighter the constraint. In the current situation, we can’t even use the long term secular trend to validate or invalidate models; 0.4 watt to 2.4 watts net forcing constrains nothing. The 100+ year historical temperature trend doesn’t constrain the models, because we don’t know what the heat balance was. If you want to ever validate models (even 30+ years out) you are going to need better heat balance data.

  64. Steve Fitzpatrick said

    Carrick,

    I do not dismiss the models outright! Please recall that I wrote last night: the only way humans will ever understand the Earth’s climate is with an accurate model.

    Is issue I have with the current models is that they are never adequately tested against data. The data simply sucks. Because the data is so bad, the models are all over the place. Since all the models are based on the same basic physical theory, the wide range of diagnosed sensitivity tells me there are major issues with model accuracy, and worse, any agreement with each other may only mean they suffer from the same errors. I don’t think that generating finer grid models really addresses this issue, nor does waiting 30+ years to see the longer term trend.

    We just need better data.

  65. Carrick said

    Steve, sorry about not responding yesterday… I got busy.

    While I would like to see improved data, one issue with atmospheric-ocean oscillations is they affect the heat balance too (e.g., via modulation of albedo and thermal coupling between ocean and atmosphere).

    So over e.g. a 7 year duration even for total heat balance, you still have to be able to separate the secular trend from the oscillator components.

    We need better data, and we need better models.

  66. Brian H said

    Re: Carrick (Oct 20 11:36),
    Which is wishing for fairie gold. Non-linear models are almost infinitely sensitive to initial conditions, such that even the sign of the output may flip with imperceptibly small variations in start points.

    GCMs are so far from being “stable” in the face of their unrealistic parameterizations that it is just hand-waving to imply that better models will work better. So far, they demonstrate that the more accurately variables are represented, the wider and wilder their deviations from observations get.

  67. Brian H said

    Oh, beautiful!
    In an SA article subtly dissing Judith Curry, “Iconoclast” posts the following:

    14. Iconoclast 05:06 PM 10/23/10

    The proposition that the average temperature of the earth’s surface is warming because of increased emissions of human-produced greenhouse gases cannot be tested by any known scientific procedure

    It is impossible to position temperature sensors randomly over the earth’s surface (including the 71% of ocean, and all the deserts, forests, and icecaps) and maintain it in constant condition long enough to tell if any average is increasing. Even if this were done the difference between the temperature during day and night is so great that no rational aveage can be derived.

    Measurements at weather stations are quite unsuitable since they are not positioned representatively and they only measure maximum and minimum once a day, from which no average can be derived. They also constantly change in number, location and surroundings. Recent studies show that most of the current stations are unable to measure temperature to better than a degree or two

    The assumptions of climate models are absurd. They assume the earth is flat, that the sun shines with equal intensity day and night, and the earth is in equilibrium, with the energy received equal to that emitted.

    Half of the time there is no sun, where the temperature regime is quite different from the day.

    No part of the earth ever is in energy equilibrium, neither is there any evidence of an overall “balance”.

    It is unsurprising that such models are incapable of predicting sny future climate behsviour, even if this could be measured satisfactorily.

    There are no representative measurements of the concentration of atmospheric csrbon dioxide over any land surface, where “greenhouse warming” is supposed to happen.

    After twenty years of study, and as expert reviewer to the IPCC from the very beginning , I can only conclude that the whole affair is a gigantic fraud

    Every paragraph a gem.

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