Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Never mind

This has not been a good holiday week for Nicola Scafetta. First, Rasmus and Gavin, not Eli he hastens to add, went public with Nicola's dodging and ducking their attempts to figure out Scafetta and West

We use a suite of global climate model simulations for the 20th Century to assess the contribution of solar forcing to the past trends in the global mean temperature. In particular we examine how robust different published methodologies are at detecting and attributing solar-related climate change in the presence of intrinsic climate variability and multiple forcings. We demonstrate that naive application of linear analytical methods such as regression gives non-robust results. We also demonstrate that the methodologies used in Scafetta & West [2005, 2006a, b, 2007, 2008] are not robust to these same factors and that their error bars are significantly larger than reported. Our analysis shows that the most likely contribution from solar forcing a global warming is 7±1% for the 20th Century, and is negligible for the warming since 1980.
They are pulling teeth trying to figure out the secret sauce that Scafetta used.

Then Krivova, Solanki and Wetzlar dissed Scafetta and Willson for using the wrong model, SATIRE-T, to bridge the ACRIM gap producing a dubious and wrong total solar irradiance (TSI) record. When the proper method, SATIRE-S, is used the TSI actually shows a small decrease since 1974.

Today, from the north country, ErikH brings word that another wooden stake is being driven into the another twitching corpse left by Scafetta and West.
The hypothesis of a sun-climate complexity linking based on common Levy-walk statistics for the integrated solar are index and the global temperature anomaly is proven to be false. The test of this hypothesis proposed by N. Scafetta and B. West, Phys. Rev. Lett. 90, 24 (2003) does not account for the trends in the signal, cannot deal correctly with in nite variance processes (Lévy flights), and crucial information about the stochastic properties of the signals is lost by considering only the second moment. The Lévy-walk signatures and common waiting-time exponent μ ~2.1 found for the two signals are essentially a result of failure to eliminate the e ffects of trends found for the two signals are essentially a result of failure to eliminate the e ffects of trends. Our analysis shows that properly detrended, integrated solar are index is well described as an uncorrelated Lévy flight, while the detrended, integrated temperature anomaly record is consistent with a persistent fractional Brownian motion. These very di fferent stochastic properties of the solar and climate records do not support the hypothesis of a sun-climate complexity linking.
Scafetta and West claimed that the solar flare index (SFI) and the global temperature anomaly (GTA) were strongly linked. Since the SFI is linked to TSI this links TSI and GTA, a result much desired by Scafetta and the solar elves. Rypdal and Rypdal show that this result is an artifact forced when Scafetta and West did not detrend the two time series and show that SFI is a Lévy flight while GTA is a fractional Brownian processl

At this point Eli needs to translate a bit. What it all has to do with is the step size distribution as one advances across the SFI or GTA records in time. These are all random walks but with different distributions of the step sizes. R2 argue that any idiot can tell the difference between the step size distribution in the SFI and GTA by removing the long time trends and then looking at the detrended probability distribution functions. They show that the test used by S&W on series with a long term trend will make them all appear similar, and that if the GTA and SFI are detrended the correlation disappears.

S&W, neglecting detrending, claimed that both SFI and GTA were Lévy walks characterized by similar scaling law powers, and therefore were strongly correlated. A Lévy flight is a random walk where the tail of the step size distribution is higher than would be predicted by an exponential falloff. R2 find that the SFI is a Lévy flight. (Here is a lot less handwaving for the interested) Fractional Brownian motion is a Gaussian process. All of these can be characterized by what is called the Hurst parameter, which is only valid for stationary (the probability and parameters such as the mean and the standard deviation, do not change as one moves along the series) stochastic (random) processes. This clearly demands detrending. For the GTA, it turns out that if the time series is properly detrended the Hurst parameter (0.65) indicates that the steps are positively correlated, e.g changes in global temperature anomalies on a monthly basis are correlated at least a few steps out from any point and the series can be described as a fractional Brownian process. For normal Brownian motion H= 0.5. For a Lévy flight, H~ 1.0.

As Dano points out
The comment erikH linked to has a key idea in the conclusion: the climate system has a lot of inertia and the short-scale vagaries of TSI cannot meaningfully perturb something with that much inertia at scales the denialists trumpet.
It's been a rough week for Scafetta. Comments?

Monday, December 28, 2009


You know you have been dissed, when the folks who created the procedure you used call you out on it. Nicky Scafetta and Dick Willson have been dissed. However, like all good stories this needs an introduction. One of the tragedies of solar astronomy, is that the launch of the replacement for the first total solar irradiance (TSI) monitor was delayed for two years. Accounting for what happened in the gap between ACRIM 1 and ACRIM 2 is the major problem in constructing a TSI record although there are others (google PMOD, IRMB and ACRIM). How to fill that gap using other observations is an issue as bunnies might believe.

Scafetta and Willson (open preprint) used a model called SATIRE-T. They found an increase in the TSI from 1986 and from that, in other papers, Scafetta ascribed a significant part of the global temperature increase to an increase in the TSI. Scafetta has been caught on tape selling this shinola.

In record time, a "comment" on Scafetta and Willson's ACRIM reconstruction, published in GRL earlier this year has appeared in December. Krivova, Solanki and Wetzlar calmly mentioned that Scafetta and Willson screwed up. A preprint is available at arXiv

Solanki and Krivova created a suite of models they named SATIRE to estimate solar irradiance from observations of changes in the solar magnetic field. Each model had a specific purpose. SATIRE S was designed to be used when there were direct, full disk measurements of the solar magnetic field in the photosphere. Changes in the magnetic field and images of the solar surface can be used to figure out the TSI. This is a good place to be, because it infers TSI with a minimal number of assumptions from a fair amount of useful data.

On the other hand, it is only in the satellite era (post 1974) that Rabett Labs had such information, so if Eli wants to go further back, say to the Maunder Minimum, all we got are observations of the sun, including sunspots, and another model is needed and that is SATIRE-T, T standing for Telescope. It is set up to look at longer period changes in TSI, on the decade to century time scales and is known to be less accurate on periods of months, but since all we have going back hundreds of years is sunspot evolution, it is about as good as it gets. Krivova, Solanki and Wetzlar point out that

Thus, by its very conception, the model by Krivova et al. [2007] employed by Scafetta and Willson [2009] is expected to be relatively accurate on time scales of days to the solar rotation and from the solar cycle to centuries, whereas its accuracy on time scales of several months to years is limited. This is exactly opposite to what Scafetta and Willson [2009] assumed.
Rather than the increase in TSI from 1986 that Scafetta and Willson found using the wrong model, SATIRE-T, Krivova, Solanki and Wetzlar find a small decrease when using SATIRE-S, but caution that the decrease is small, and only magnetic effects are considered by the models
The magnitude of this decrease cannot be estimated very accurately from such an analysis (and therefore such a ‘mixed’ composite should not be considered as a replacement of real measurements), but it lies between approximately 0.15 and 0.7 Wm−2 (0.011–0.05%) for different values of the model’s single free parameter. Note that irradiance changes due to non-magnetic effects, if any, cannot be revealed by either SATIRE-S used here nor by SATIRE-T employed by Scafetta and Willson [2009].
Now there are many (not Eli, the bunny would hasten to add) who might think that the wrong choice of model was made for some (unknown to Eli) ulterior purpose (which Eli would never even speculate about). Still, in this case it probably will not be necessary to demand the code from Scafetta but, in the nature of such things it has popped up in many of the predictable places. While it is not likely that many of the usual blogs would even consider doing so, Eli looks forward to the following eminent authorities amending their claims

Comments on Draft Technical Support Document for Endangerment

iwantmypartyback.org [PDF]
A Carlin - US EPA internal document intended for …, 2009 - iwantmypartyback.org
These comments were prepared during the week of March 9-16, 2009 and are based on the March 9 version of the draft EPA Technical Support document for the endangerment analysis for Greenhouse Gases under the Clean Air Act. On March 17, the Director of the National ...
Cited by 2 - Related articles - View as HTML - All 18 versions

Scientific Shortcomings in the EPA's Endangerment Finding from …

socialsecurity.org [PDF]
PJ Michaels, PC Knappenberger - Cato Journal, 2009 - socialsecurity.org
On April 24, 2009, the US Environmental Protection Agency issued a finding of “proposed endangerment” from climate change caused by six greenhouse gases, with the largest contributions to warming resulting from emissions of carbon dioxide and methane (EPA 2009a). The ...

Request for Extension of Comment Period, Or in the Alternative, for the …

openmarket.org [PDF]
TWIM Concern - openmarket.org
EPA Docket ID Number EPA-HQ-OAR-2009-0171 _____________________________________________________

Countering Kerry's Catastrophic Climate Claims

KP Green - aei.org
Kerry asserted that not one peer-reviewed paper contradicts the “consensus” view that greenhouse gas emissions will cause devastating consequences, and that we must limit their emissions radically to avoid the maximum “consensus” value of two degrees Celsius, which Kerry claimed ...

Sunday, December 27, 2009

If you got a hammer

Steve Bloom brings word of the latest Einstein, better than Chilingar, more powerful than Gerlich and Tscheuschner, able to leap high hockey sticks in a single bound, with the newest version of global warming is caused by cosmic rays.

There are two parts to this story, the first is an interesting idea that low energy electrons can dissociate CFCs in ice matricies. This idea has, as such things go, a relatively long provenance, going back to the 1980s and enjoying a revival in the recently deceased Ted Madey's lab at Rutgers at the end of the last century (well, 10-12 years or so). The idea has been aggressively pursued by one of Madey's students Qing Bin Lu at Waterloo, whence comes the latest, to be published in Physics Reports as a "review". To be honest (and Eli is ever so), the first part of the paper is a good summary of the past laboratory work, but the second half on climate science, descends into hammer territory, as in when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail, something that folk who work in on a single system are subject to. The editor for the paper, Sigrid Peyerimhoff, a really good theoretical chemist, had done very early calculations on the mechanism championed by Lu. FWIW Eli also knows some chemists and atmospheric scientists at Waterloo and thinks highly of them.

The idea, which has been kicking around for about as long a time is that CFCs are not dissociated by UV sunlight, mostly in the stratosphere in the tropics, where the light is most intense, but at the poles, in the polar stratospheric clouds, by low energy electrons formed in cosmic ray cascades. This was published by Lu in Physical Review Letters early in the decade and got not one, but two comments, and a more recent PRL publication, the latter being out from under the paywall.

Lu says that there is a strong anticorrelation between cosmic ray flux and ozone at the poles where Polar Stratospheric Clouds form (or in other words, more cosmic rays, less ozone). He puts forth, what with charity could be called a simplistic model, called the cosmic ray driven electron reaction model, which is nothing more than a correlation of the ozone change against the cosmic ray flux, with its 11 year cycle. There is nothing more than a simple least square fit and even that is minimal, and the lines are thick, the scatter of measurements wide. There is no kinetic model beyond the naive fit, and there is no discussion beyond, lookatthat quantifying the fit.

The CRE "model" is just

[O3]i = [O3] o {1-k Ii Ii-1 EESCi ]
where [O3]i is the ozone column depth in year i, [O3] o would be the column depth without CFCs, Ii is the cosmic ray flux in year i, and EESCi is the equivalent effective stratospheric chlorine over Antarctica. k is a fitting constant.

As was pointed out in one of the PRL comments, the correlation only looks reasonable for the latest cycle, and the scatter is so large that without the running average it would disappear there. The bunnies can get another view of this by looking at the 1990 to 2008 ozone variability vs variability in the cosmic ray flux.

Before going on, Lu does provide a prediction
The intensity of cosmic rays is still peaking in 2009, so we should expect to observe one of the deepest ozone holes over the spring Antarctica in 2009~2010.
and as it turned out we didn't. There are two measures of an ozone hole, the area, and the minimum ozone column density. 2009 was a middling hole for recent conditions, the hole was smaller than in any year since 1996 except 2002 and 2004, the ozone column was middling for the same period.

This should not be surprising, Lu himself shows that there is a much better correlation between temperature and ozone, as the photochemical model implies than his CRE model, but not to be daunted, Lu next claims that the temperature is controlled by the cosmic rays.

Much hand waving ensues, during which claims are made that because cosmic rays control the ozone at the poles, and ozone depletion at the poles contributes to ozone depletion at mid latitudes, ozone depletion controls global temperature. Something like that.

Tamino is going to feast on this one.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

To all the mice

A wonderful Christmas to all, and to all a good night

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Connolley Watch

Eli understands that Wm is being stalked and now has his own Connolley Watch. You can get yours at Sky Mall

Eli is not the only jealous blogger. Tiger Annan is looking for trouble

Eli is a corney coney

The fox and the hedgehog

Isaiah Berlin, IEHO a much overrated philosopher and storyteller of the 20th century talked of foxes who know many things, and hedgehogs who only know one big thing, a very fortunate simile for book review writers.

American Scientist, ΣΞ's house organ reprints Gilbert Plass' seminal 1956 essay on Carbon Dioxide and the Climate with a biographical essay by James Fleming and an appreciation of Plass' place as one of the founders of climatology by Gavin Schmidt. Earlier this year Lightbucket had celebrated Plass'work as a blast from the global warming past, searching out and reprinting interesting contemporaneous evaluations from popular newspapers and magazines such as Time

This spreading envelope of gas around the earth, says Johns Hopkins Physicist Gilbert N. Plass, serves as a great greenhouse. Transparent to the radiant heat from the sun, it blocks the longer wave lengths of heat that bounce back from the earth. At its present rate of increase, says Plass, the CO2 in the atmosphere will raise the earth’s average temperature 1.5° Fahrenheit every 100 years.

As the blanket of CO2 gets thicker, it also prevents the tops of clouds from losing heat as rapidly as before. The smaller temperature difference between cloud base and top cuts down the air currents which must circulate through the cloud before rain or snow can form. Lowered rainfall will make a drier climate. Less cloud cover will be formed, more sunlight will reach the earth, and the average temperature will rise still higher.

Gavin spends time playing fox, listing the things that Plass did not know
He did not know how fast CO2 was accumulating in the atmosphere—Charles Keeling would start his seminal measurements at Mauna Loa only in 1957. Neither did he know how CO2 had varied in the past—the first ice core results only emerged in the 1980s. But he was still able, with his understanding of infrared spectroscopy, to write a paper that qualitatively predicted both these results—although with methods that we can now recognise as being incomplete—and correctly concluded that the impact of CO2 on climate would be clear by the end of the 20th century. There are other things that we know now that he could not possibly have known—the importance of other greenhouse gases (methane in particular, which wasn’t recognised as an important contributor to anthropogenic forcing until 1974, but also chlorofluorocarbons and N2O, which have also increased dramatically because of human influence) and the role of human-emitted particulates and low-level ozone precursors.
concluding, as all jealous foxes do, that Plass was simply lucky
Nonetheless, the coincidences of some of his numbers and the ones we know today are just that, coincidences, and so some part of the high regard in which we hold Plass today may simply be due to luck. Indeed, Lewis Kaplan, the author of a subsequent and more accurate calculation, has been all but forgotten since he incorrectly concluded that CO2 could not play a role in climate change. In 50 years time if someone reviews my work, I would hope to have been as lucky as Gilbert Plass.
Eli dissents. Plass was a hedgehog and he knew the one big thing. Eli knows it too, and has been pointing out for years that the estimates of climate sensitivity have simply not moved much for over a hundred years. This is a reasonable expectation, one big thing overwhelms many small things which since they are many and small are most likely to pull in opposite directions canceling each other out as you discover them and gee, they do. In fact, it would be a miracle if they did not.

Plass could have been writing today
The carbon dioxide theory states that, as the amount of carbon dioxide increases, the atmosphere becomes opaque over a larger frequency interval; the outgoing radiation is trapped more effectively near the Earth’s surface and the temperature rises. The latest calculations show that if the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere should double, the surface temperature would rise 3.6 degrees Celsius and if the amount should be cut in half, the surface temperature would fall 3.8 degrees.
Ok a bit high on that but look at this answer about water vapor
The fact that water vapor absorbs to some extent in the same spectral interval as carbon dioxide is the basis for the usual objection to the carbon dioxide theory. According to this argument the water vapor absorption is so large that there would be virtually no change in the outgoing radiation if the carbon dioxide concentration should change. However, this conclusion was based on early, very approximate treatments of the very complex problem of the calculation of the infrared flux in the atmosphere. Recent and more accurate calculations that take into account the detailed structure of the spectra of these two gases show that they are relatively independent of one another in their influence on the infrared absorption. There are two main reasons for this result: (1) there is no correlation between the frequencies of the spectral lines for carbon dioxide and water vapor and so the lines do not often overlap because of nearly coincident positions for the spectral lines; (2) the fractional concentration of water vapor falls off very rapidly with height whereas carbon dioxide is nearly uniformly distributed. Because of this last fact, even if the water vapor absorption were larger than that of carbon dioxide in a certain spectral interval at the surface of the Earth, at only a short distance above the ground the carbon dioxide absorption would be considerably larger than that of the water vapor.

Monday, December 21, 2009

God will know his own

Scientific publications are a backwater, terse, with half the words in obscure code written for an audience of perhaps a hundred people well known to the authors (and some of the papers have a hundred authors) and maybe their students who can ask one of the hundred for guidance. While this may appear to be an underestimate, scientists concentrate on small parts of larger issues. Thus someone who studies volcanic aerosol feedbacks may read papers on aviation effects on climate but needs to talk to a specialist to when trying to link her knowledge to study of contrails and visa versa. It is this coming together of narrow experts that drives good interdisciplinary science.

Some time ago Eli remarked on the weakness of strangers

What amateurs lack as a group is perspective, an understanding of how everything fits together and a sense of proportion. Graduate training is designed to pass lore from advisors to students. You learn much about things that didn't work and therefore were never published [hey Prof. I have a great idea!...Well actually son, we did that back in 06 and wasted two years on it], whose papers to trust, and which to be suspicious of [Hey Prof. here's a great new paper!... Son, don't trust that clown.] In short the kind of local knowledge that allows one to cut through the published literature thicket.

But this lack makes amateurs prone to get caught in the traps that entangled the professionals' grandfathers, and it can be difficult to disabuse them of their discoveries. Especially problematical are those who want science to validate preconceived political notions, and those willing to believe they are Einstein and the professionals are fools. Put these two types together and you get a witches brew of ignorance and attitude.
The literature has tended to inclusion because in small fields, everyone except the clowns, knows who the clowns are, and what the journal of last resort is. Email sped up the cycle in which problem papers are identified and subsequently ignored. In an expert oriented literature, the experts know what papers to ignore. Occasionally the error is subtle or so outrageous that a comment is needed and allowed by the embarrassed editors. Even less occasionally a bad paper raises serious issues that must be explored more thoroughly. In the past, when outsiders (governments, industries) needed an understanding groups of experts were assembled and told to first figure it out and then to dumb it down, thus the various national research councils, the IPCC, NIH and FDA panels, etc.

There are now fields (climate, parts of medicine, tobacco caused disease) where this model no longer functions. The good news is that the need for a new model is driven by public interest in the field. The bad news is that this is being manipulated by malign political and commercial interests who are replicating the suppression of science by the tobacco, and asbestos industries

A small number of ideologues are busy building Pielke villages, and we have not even got to the vanity press. These papers are trumpeted by the denialist propaganda machine

As Boris said over on Stoat, "If there's something stupid to believe, there is someone on the internet who believes it."

For what the editors consider important work published in Science, short descriptions of the new result are provided with an emphasis on context. This is a natural for electronic media, although obviously not every publication needs or deserves this treatment. To a great extent comments in an open review process provide this.

UPDATE: If you want to know about the picture, read the comments and blame Ankh.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Rings of the Earth

Eli finally got back home and will now collapse

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Mid-Term Test, Part I

A while ago, as a Global Climate Change Decision Maker, Eli took a test and offered a taste to the bunnies. Globe Scan has released the results of their survey (actually they did so a week or so ago, before Copenhagen) and it is time to see how everyone did, the details are at the link, but the results are sobering.

As Eli and others are making clear there is a strong consensus that the science is more than strong enough to demand taking serious action to avoid future disaster. Globe Scan put the question in the negative, but the answer is the same. Act now, act strongly, but we know from the recent tantrums that there is strong, industrially funded and supported, political opposition.

The first question on the survey was what were the preferred and expected outcomes, from COP15 and, as Eli pointed out the preferred outcome for the vast majority of science, science policy and policy hacks who actually have a clue about the dangers the world confronts would have been a comprehensive and ambitious agreement with the cooperative participation of the US and China, India too for that matter, Europe, being defacto on board.

Now this is not the unanimouse opinion, Scrotum and Ethon know of some folks who really, really wanted COP 15 to fail miserably, but it looks like what happened was pretty close to what us Climate Change Decision Makers thought would happen. What is interesting is how it happened. At the end. Obama simply shamed the major developing countries into participation, from reports, busting in on a meeting of China, India, Brazil and South Africa

The Norweigen Nobel Peace Prize Committee expects serious apologies from everyone who said that their award of the Peace Prize to Obama was a mistake. Without that he would not have had the standing to act as he did, even as President of the United States.

Shortly before the appointed time of the meeting with Mr. Wen, Denis McDonough, the national security council chief of staff, and Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, arrived and were startled to find the Chinese prime minister already meeting with the leaders of the three other countries.

They alerted Mr. Obama and he rushed down to the site of the meeting.

“Mr. Premier, are you ready to see me?” Mr. Obama called from the doorway. “Are you ready?”

Despite its tense start, the meeting led to an accord that settled a number of issues, including a compromise on wording on the issue of monitoring and verification that satisfied Mr. Wen.

Mr. Obama then took the proposed text to a group of European nations whose representatives grumbled but signed off.

As his motorcade idled in front of the conference center, Mr. Obama took to a rostrum emblazoned with the presidential seal.

“This progress did not come easily, and we know that this progress alone is not enough,” the president said, his eyes bleary and no note of triumph in his voice.

He added, “We’ve come a long way, but we have much further to go.”

but the world has made a start.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Slamming the Overton window shut

Eli suspects that Rabett Run was the first to introduce the Overton window to the climate policy fray, back in 2007, pointing out that too many were shutting out what might be called the Romm/Hansen/Gore position while trying to "engage" on a pretty-pretty basis with the denialists. It was a classic case of slamming the window shut on your allies, with, of course, encouragement from the tutt-tutters and false friends and as the Bunny predicted it has come to a sad end with the theft of the CRU files. DON'T DO IT. OK?

This Email theft has concentrated the minds of many, not all, some, such as Judith Curry still think there are converts to be made, some such as Edmund Zorita and Hans v. Storch, see it as a wonderful time to stick the knife in, and most were very slow off the mark. How people react in a time of stress is a mark of their character. This week has seen a turn, with Myles Allen and Ben Santer taking leads.

The reaction at the AGU meeting was straightforward, unanimous (well, Willie Soon was there with a totally incoherent poster, at least the one he put up, and another that said he was protesting that he didn't get his own session, Scarfetta stood like a lost boy in front of his and there were a couple of others). There was general agreement that the WGI science is settled, that the wave of negative effects from climate change is beginning to emerge, and that the world needs immediate action to avoid disasterous consequences in the future. It was well summarized by Santer:

As climate scientists, this is what we know with great confidence:

* We know that human activities have changed the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

* We know that these changes in the composition of the atmosphere have had profound effects on Earth’s climate.

* We know that the human “fingerprint” on climate will become ever more visible over the next few decades, and will impact many aspects of our lives.

* We know that we are at a crossroads in human history. The decisions our political leaders reach in Copenhagen – or fail to reach – will shape the world inherited by future generations.
Oh yes, Real Climate appears to be down (just maintenance ...). Were Eli not such a cautious fellow, he would say that there is a denial of service attack going on. Time will tell, but the lesson to be learned is not to trust, cozen or praise the denialists.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

De mortuis nil nisi bonum - Dr. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang

Dr. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang has died, and it is real hard to honor the latin admonition. For those who do not know Tshabalala Msimang was the South African Minister of Health under Thabo Mbeki, whose denial that AIDS was caused by HIV has lead to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of her countrymen, with more in the pipeline. Fortunately, the current government has reversed their policy, although too late for the dead, and many of the living.

Dr. Tshabalala-Msimang advocated marshaling vitamin and nutritional forces against the AIDS virus, H.I.V. She maintained that foods like garlic, lemon, African potatoes and beetroot were stauncher defenses than the antiretroviral drugs that had been proved to prolong the lives of H.I.V.-positive patients and to help prevent the passage of the virus from pregnant women to their babies.

Noting that the drugs had side effects, and adopting the claims of so-called AIDS dissidents who deny a connection between H.I.V. and AIDS, she referred to the antiretroviral drugs as poison.

The UN envoy on AIDS, Stephen Lewis, accurately characterized the Mbeki government policy "obtuse, dilatory and negligent" and
more worthy of a lunatic fringe than of a concerned and compassionate state
Denial in the face of clear science has murderous consequences. We have seen this with AIDS, we have seen it with tobacco, asbestos, tetra-ethyl lead and more. Observant readers may have noticed another issue beset by politically and industrially based denialism that uses bought and sold, fringe scientific backing. Copenhagen represents a late and probably last chance to avoid this from human made climate change.

Mental Health Break

As the bunnies might have guessed after three days of poster, presentations and discussions, everyone needs and takes a mental health break. Eli's practice is to walk around town, maybe visit a museum or some other interesting place. Ms Rabett encourages gift buying expeditions.

Now the Rabett is a hard guy to impress. After all he is a survivor of the Deathmarch through the Louvre, the Metropolitan Marathon, the Tate Trot and more, but today he was a bit west of the AGU convention center and found the Chung Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture, aka the SF Asian Art Museum and was completely blown away. While not a small place, you really need at least a full day to take it in, you can breeze through and get a huge case of jaw drop in an hour or two. There is not a single piece of shelf filler in the whole museum.

Eli heartily recommends a visit ($17 for adults, less for kids and emeriti) to recharge the zest.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Patience wears thing. It's time to move on

Eli is visiting his atmospheric and volcanic cousins in San Francisco. Yesterday there was an important meeting to report to the AGU Community on the results of the US Climate Change Research Program report on Impacts. Among the presenters (and there was an outstanding crew, Thomas Karl, Don Wuebbles, Roger Pulwarty and others who do equally cool stuff- Eli is a science bunny) Using the new improved technology (darts and a wall) the AGU managed to schedule this directly against Richard Alley's Bjerknes Lecture, The Biggest Control Knob: Carbon Dioxide in Earth's Climate History, which has been commented on by others friends and will, someday real soon be available as a webcast.

UPDATE: David Petley writes about Alley's lecture, and his and Alley's introduction captures the mood of the community (The lecture is here, a large download)

After lunch I went to the Bjerknes Lecture - one of the big set pieces - which was given by Richard Alley from Penn State. He brought a geological perspective to the link between atmospheric carbon dioxide and temperature. He started the lecture by noting the ongoing harassment of climate scientists by the denialist camp - giving an example of a demand made to his university that he be fired for continuing to claim that carbon dioxide causes temperature change. He presented this with great humour and grace, but the underlying message about the way that scientists are being treated was clear, and was a great concern. At a time when the denialist scientist de jour, Iam Plimer, has been embarrassed in a debate with a journalist, and the high profile campaigner Christopher Monckton has been caught on video calling campaigners "The Hitler Youth", and then has brazenly denied it, the sense that the science community is under siege is clear.
The entire denialist camp is not innocent of this, in fact they are guilty. Their strategy is to harrass the climate scienctists who don't knuckle under using the few who are with them. There has been a distressing tendency to underestimate the organization of the denialist effort. It is a mistake to assume that this effort is without purpose, and that that purpose is innocent. The answer is the effort is an expertly guided one, and that it is pursued to stop any action on a major and global threat to civilization. Denial yields banker scale profits to a few, and political power to some others. The rest of us are road kill.

There is much more there, but to pick two points, one of which is useful in dealing with the denialists, Alley
ridiculed the idea that because CO2 sometimes lags temperature it cannot be the cause of warming. He compared this to debt associated with credit cards, saying that if he went out and spent a modest amount on his card he would end up owing the credit card company money. If he didn't pay this off then punitive interest rates would mean that his debt rapidly spiraled out of control. In the end his bankruptcy would be the result of the debt increasing due to the interest rates. The application of the interest rates lagged behind the spend, but still caused the insolvency. He likened the orbital cycle to the initial spend but the carbon dioxide to the interest.
The second deals with the Baskerville dog argument of the cosmic ray fans. Alley pointed out that
the geological record globally demonstrated a huge spike in cosmic ray flux at 40,000 years BP, but that temperature did not respond at all.

At the USCCRP session, Ben Santer issued a personal statment before speaking which has been posted at Rabett Run, and received long and heartfelt applause. He accurately summarized the sense of the meeting,
  1. the physical basis of climate change is more than well enough understood to require immediate action and in fact such action is years overdue,
  2. the consequences of not taking immediate action are dire.
  3. we know that the costs of not taking immediate action range between really bad and catastrophic
  4. research should be concentrated on providing guidance to policy makers for amelioration, adapting to and mitigating damage in the near and long term
These are strongly held views based on an enormous and consistent body of research involving those who actually do the research. Patience with the delayers and deniers is running out. In the past, the opinion was that, ok, so and so published this obviously wrong paper because his buddy was an editor, the policy of the journal was to let a thousand flowers bloom, or just stuff happens and occasionally it happens in printed form. It will sink without a trace, why waste energy getting a comment into print.

As Rick Trebbino found out, getting a comment into print is hard work. Journals HATE to print them because a critical comment on a really bad paper is a statement that the editorial process failed.

Today, when these holes in the literature appear the can't simply be allowed to find their natural level in the fish and chips shop, because there is an organized propaganda machine greased to slide them into the public debate. Increasingly formal comments are being written and some are appearing, but this is not enough. Eli would suggest a dose of sunlight, that peer reviewing can both remain anonymous and become public, that others should be allowed to comment, in short, the open review process of the European geophysical journals should become the rule rather than the exception. This will require fairly strong editorial control of the comment sections by the editors for controversial papers but that will be what they get the big bucks for.

Eli finds the open discussion and reviews quite useful when he reads a paper where he is informed but not expert. The comments express where the issues are, providing a guide to where the rocks are that will sink the ship while the authors are pulling a Lorelei, distracting the mariner surfing the literature with visions of bliss and funding.

More later

Open Letter to the Climate Science Community:

As spoken at the AGU 2009 Fall Meeting, reprinted with permission

These remarks reflect the personal opinions of B.D. Santer. They do not represent the official views of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory or the U.S. Department of Energy.

We live in extraordinary scientific and political times.

Over the course of less than a dozen generations, humanity has transitioned from a passive bystander to an active agent of change in the climate system. We are now aware of this fundamental change in our role in the world. We can no longer plead ignorance.

As climate scientists, this is what we know with great confidence:

* We know that human activities have changed the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

* We know that these changes in the composition of the atmosphere have had profound effects on Earth’s climate.

* We know that the human “fingerprint” on climate will become ever more visible over the next few decades, and will impact many aspects of our lives.

* We know that we are at a crossroads in human history. The decisions our political leaders reach in Copenhagen – or fail to reach – will shape the world inherited by future generations.

Our political leadership must have access to the best-available scientific information. Without this information, they will be unable to reach wise decisions on how to respond to the problem of human-caused climate change.

The clearest, most complete assessment of the science is contained in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in the Synthesis and Assessment Products of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, and in the scientific assessments of the U.S. National Academy and the Science Academies of other nations. These assessments all underscore the reality of a “discernible human influence” on global climate.

As scientists, we must be free to contribute to such assessments. We must be free to follow the science wherever it leads us, without fear of interference when we “speak truth to power”.

Sadly, climate scientists now see and feel interference from political and economic interests. This interference is pervasive. Powerful forces are using a criminal act – the theft of over a thousand emails from the U.K.’s Climatic Research Unit – to advance their own agendas.

These “forces of unreason” seek to constrain our ability to speak truth to power. They seek to skew and distort what we know about the nature and causes of climate change. Having failed to undermine climate science itself, they seek to destroy the reputations of individual climate scientists. They seek to destroy men like Phil Jones and Mike Mann, who have devoted their entire careers to the pursuit of scientific knowledge and understanding.

We must not let this stand.

We no longer have the luxury of remaining silent on these issues. We all have voices. We need to use them.

Benjamin D. Santer
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellow

San Ramon, California
December 14, 2009*

Rabett Run has some commentary on this as well as there being discussions at many other places on the web.


In an almost unnoticed interview with Eric Berger of the Houston Chronicle, Gerald North lays out the problem

McIntyre to me, I think he is probably a well meaning guy. He's not dumb, he's very smart. But he can be very irritating. This guy can just wear you out. He has started it with me but I just don't bite. But there are some guys, Ben Santer comes to mind, who if they are questioned will take a lot of time to answer. He's sincere and he just can't leave these things along. If you get yourself in a back-and-forth with these guys it can be never ending, and basically they shut you down with requests. They want everything, all your computer programs. Then they send you back a comment saying, "I don't understand this, can you explain it to me." It's never ending. And the first thing you know you're spending all your time dealing with these guys."
UPDATE: It sort of spoke for itself, but Eli thinks that Prof. North is naive. What McIntyre practices is purposeful and the purpose is to shut climate scientists down by exhaustion. McIntyre is no innocent. So the question is what to do about this and Eli has a few ideas.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Eli Rabett and RW Wood

UPDATE: Arthur Smith has the answer, just look at the first comment. Having put this baby to bed Eli will wrap it up tomorrow but now anytime someone raises the dread climate change is just N Rays flag, constant readers of Rabett Run can tell them, uh uh. Got that Marky?
R. W. Wood was probably the greatest American experimental physicist of the last century. He was renowned for his design of simple and penetrating experiments (mostly optical). Although it is rumored that he had a first name, Eli only has heard him referred to as R. W. Wood, even by those who knew him (Eli is old enough that only one generation separates him from an older Wood). Wood was the successor to Henry Rowland at Johns Hopkins and outdid the old master (Rowland perfected the diffraction grating). Wood was an immensely practical scientist, as anyone who has ever heard the N Ray story could tell, perhaps rivaled only by Fermi, who had the huge advantage of being a wonderful theoretician (physicists worship theory and tolerate experiment, everything in physics starts with theoretical models).

So, what brings us here? Among other things that Wood did, was to try and devise a test of whether thermal radiation could be trapped in the atmosphere

To test the matter I constructed two enclosures of dead black cardboard, one covered with a glass plate, the other with a plate of rock-salt of equal thickness. The bulb of a thermometer was inserted in each enclosure and the whole packed in cotton, with the exception of the transparent plates which were exposed. When exposed to sunlight the temperature rose gradually to 65 oC, the enclosure covered with the salt plate keeping a little ahead of the other, owing to the fact that it transmitted the longer waves from the sun, which were stopped by the glass. In order to eliminate this action the sunlight was first passed through a glass plate.

There was now scarcely a difference of one degree between the temperatures of the two enclosures. The maximum temperature reached was about 55 oC. From what we know about the distribution of energy in the spectrum of the radiation emitted by a body at 55 o, it is clear that the rock-salt plate is capable of transmitting practically all of it, while the glass plate stops it entirely. This shows us that the loss of temperature of the ground by radiation is very small in comparison to the loss by convection, in other words that we gain very little from the circumstance that the radiation is trapped.

From this Wood concluded that
Is it therefore necessary to pay attention to trapped radiation in deducing the temperature of a planet as affected by its atmosphere? The solar rays penetrate the atmosphere, warm the ground which in turn warms the atmosphere by contact and by convection currents. The heat received is thus stored up in the atmosphere, remaining there on account of the very low radiating power of a gas. It seems to me very doubtful if the atmosphere is warmed to any great extent by absorbing the radiation from the ground, even under the most favourable conditions.
Eli and others, including the dread Stoat, have thought about this demonstration for a long time and certainly it is a favorite of the denialati, including some of our home grown ones, as an at this time ongoing interchange shows.

Eli had a flash of understanding this afternoon about what RW was measuring and why it is not relevant to the Greenhouse Effect. The hint is that the absorptivity of the glass in the IR is roughly unity as is that of the black cardboard, and therefore their IR emissivity is also unity in the IR by Kirchoff's law. Another hint, if you can understand what is wrong in the bunnies discussion of the Greenhouse Effect, you should have a good idea of what Wood measured and why it did not prove what he thought it did.

Now that the Bunny has ruined your Saturday night, Ms. Rabett is calling:)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Shooting blanks

The NY Times has remarked on the empty weariness of denial

But the climate skeptics who met inside a stuffy second-floor gallery near this city’s Christianshavn neighborhood on Wednesday displayed at least as much passion for their cause as the environmental activists who have flocked to Copenhagen to push for action on global warming.

“They’ve got us outnumbered,” said Ian Plimer, an Australian geologist, who has interests in several mining operations. “But we’ve got them outgunned.”

concluding with a perfect description of the debate among our friends, the Potty Peer, S. Fred, Dowser Morner and a cast of maybe five others,

Then, as debates over global warming often do, the discussion dissolved into incomprehensible shouting.

Steve Mc is missing a fun party.

FAST MOVING UPDATES from the Rabett Run Crack Reporting Team in Copenhagen, or is that your Rabett Run Reporting Team on Crack? Things are moving fast and it's pretty hard to keep our little bunny butts off the floor. Gareth in the comments tells us

Meanwhile, for an alternative view of the conference, the potty peer is blogging his time in Copenhagen:

The more reflective of the numerous journalists who crowded into our little conference chamber noticed a startling difference between our conference and the panto. There, all was screaming spin. Here, all was calm, rational scientific discussion among the world’s leading climate experts.

I have a feeling that Scrøtüm may have a message on the way soon. Ethon may be required...

Joe Romm has Video with the Potty Peer and his pet making an appearance.

Atmoz awakens and throws Mike Mann under the bus having lifted Steve Mc's patented Climate Audit Whine Generator.

Adopt a burrow

National Lab Day, poorly named, among other things is a web site that matches scientists and engineers, and who knows, even mathematicians, to teachers and classes in schools. Eli would like to suggest a visit to their web site. The bunny assumes that the Grumbines have already publicized this, but is willing to put a National Lab Day can with the slot outside his burrow and you should too. Ms Grumbine has a live in

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Darth Data Destroyer

As all good auditors know destroying data is a sin. They should go tell it to Harold Lewis, one of the Princeton Denial Club and Retirement Party. Lewis was interviewed a while ago by the American Physical Society oral history project. Let the dear boy speak for hisself (Tip of the ears to Marco)

Dr. Aaserud: Your papers — correspondence, notes, manuscripts, things of that sort — what's the status of those? That's another thing we're interested in.

Dr. Lewis: Yes. I really don't have them, you know. I've long since either lost in moving or discarded everything that I had. So I have no papers around from JASON, if that's what you mean.

Aaserud: No, generally — both JASON and generally speaking.

Lewis: There are lots of things, but they're scattered in a complicated way. Generally speaking, I throw things away after a few years, so the only things I have are the things that have accumulated over the last few years and are relevant to the things I'm actually doing these days.

Aaserud: That's another thing that the Center is strongly involved in — just saving papers for historical purposes.

Lewis: Yes, I understand. But I have enough trouble keeping up with current papers.

Aaserud: But if for any reason you wanted help or advice on what to keep and how to keep it and where to go and all that, then we'd be happpy to help on that. But for JASON in particular, you don't have anything.

Lewis: No, I don't.
There is shredding going on in Santa Barbara. Data has been destroyed. Where are the auditors when you need them?

Lewis has taken on the challenge of being sillier about climate change then Sarah Palin
I think it behooves us to be careful about how we state the science. I know of nobody who denies that the Earth has been warming for thousands of years without our help (and specifically since the Little Ice Age a few hundred years ago), and is most likely to continue to do so in its own sweet time.
Well, actually most people who have a clue think that without our contributions the surface would be cooling a bit right now due to the Milankovitch cycles which have reached and passed the warm peak. In Science Speak, as Imrie and Imrie put it
Ignoring anthropogenic and other possible sources of variation acting at frequencies higher than one cycle per 19,000 years, this model predicts that the long-term cooling trend which began some 6000 years ago will continue for the next 23,000 years.
There are some nice graphics at the Wikipedia UPDATE: but while chewing the orange ambrosia with Carrot Eater (best Bakersfield Bunny Feed) over this one he pointed out that the global temperature difference between the coldest part of an ice age and the warmest interglacial is about 6 C, for a transition period of ~30,000 years. That means that it takes about 5,000 years to go down 1 C and we are going up 1 C in less than 75 years at the current rate. Rates are kinetics, eternity is thermodynamics. Give me another envelope please, Eli has filled the back of this one.

The point is how RAPID the current (last 100 years or so) warming is, driven by the RAPID increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, something that would NOT happen driven by natural stuff and which Hal kicks down the memory hole.
The important question is how much warming does the future hold,
So Hal, Eli knows what you’re thinking. “Is climate change really happening?” Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement the bunny kind of lost track himself. But being greenhouse gases are the most powerful forcing we know, and the best science predicts disaster ahead, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?
is it good or bad, and if bad is it too much for normal adaptation to handle.
Above 2 oC it's gonna be REALLY bad. Here are some pictures for the hard of learning

The real answer to the first is that no one knows, the real answer to the second is more likely good than bad (people and plants die from cold, not warmth), and the answer to the third is almost certainly not.
Again, the Lindzen Lope. We know that if greenhouse gas concentrations continue to increase it is almost certain that global temperatures will increase. That does not mean that we know with certainty, but that's the way to bet heavily. We can predict that if global temperatures increase more than 3 C, there will be major damage (see the above from the IPCC WGII report). Eli would remind Hal that adaptation to changes above 3C involves a lot of die off, and that includes large bipedal mammals.

It gets sillier
And nobody doubts that CO2 in the atmosphere has been increasing for the better part of a century,
Ernst Beck, Willis Eschenbach, a lot of the guys over at Marohasy's now closed for business. In short, your friends.
but the disobedient temperature seems not to care very much. And nobody denies that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, along with other gases like water vapor, but despite the claims of those who are profiting by this craze, no one knows whether the temperature affects the CO2 or vice versa. The weight of the evidence is the former.
The temperatures are tracking the CO2 forcing just fine and we know that both CO2 affects temperature and temperature effects CO2. Add CO2 to the atmosphere and you get a temperature rise. Increase the temperature say by increasing the luminosity of the sun (which has not been happening bucky) and CO2 in the atmosphere will increase as it does after an ice age, but, of course, that becomes a positive feedback, contributing to additional warming.

Remember, denialism kills, costs and confuses.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

An innocent question

Somebunny wanna tell Eli what Real Climate's politics are? Please no venting and if you think they are collectivists, provide evidence or Eli will pull a William on you

UPDATE: For extra credit, what are Roger Pielke Sr's politics (Jr has given one of his mathematician answers so we won't go there)

Eli is going to grow this post, so stay tuned.


Monday, December 07, 2009

Idle thought

While sitting at home watching the contractor trash the house, Eli has been making trouble, when he came across this, which is an excellent exposition of the blind alley that the auditors are trying to mug science in

Mathematics is not a careful march down a well-cleared highway, but a journey into a strange wilderness, where the explorers often get lost. Rigour should be a signal to the historian that the maps have been made, and the real explorers have gone elsewhere.
  • W.S. Anglin, in Mathematics and History, elucidating the symmetry between the creative and logical aspects of mathematics,

On the ragged edge of reality

Ethon flew over to Borders to purchase the book of the season from Denial Depot. It's sort of like those tasty ZhuZhus you gotta get yours before they sell out. Of course, spitting out the wires sucks.

The book is titled "The Honest Joker" and is, to my mind, the first honest attempt at bringing together the two opposing camps in the AGW bruhahahahahaha. Now I realize that many here may think there is no point in trying to reason or negotiate with the Commie-Nazi-Gorist, number twiddling, Prius-driving, politicized, sycophants represented by the AGW mass hysterions, but please, hear me out before rushing to judgement. Friends, we need to build bridges, and I am here to do it, even if I have to sacrifice myself on the funeral pyre of AGW-inspired hate and stupidity. In short, I represent the voice of reasoned intercourse and a new way out of this mess.

The book discusses quite a number of topics, but time and our attention spans are short, so I will discuss just one: stealth politicization of science. By this I mean the audacious audacity of certain climate scientists (who shall go unnamed because I am, like all of us with purely scholarly motives, not out on any sort of personal vendetta here but you know sort of like Gavin Schmidt and Kevin Trenberth and Michael Mann), to openly politicize this issue in a press conference and say things like "the science is sound and the world needs to take action" and "the CRU hack does not affect, in any way, the validity of AGW concepts" and other such outrageous and vicious lies and politicizations of science. THESE LATTER TWO ARE THE DOMAIN OF POLITICAL SCIENTISTS, as we all know, so GET BACK INTO YOUR SCIENCE CORNER CLIMATE HEADS, BECAUSE WE'LL HANDLE THE POLITICS SIDE OF THINGS, OK??!!
In case the bunnies are wondering where this came from read this thread


The other shoe or the gun to the Senate's head

The boom you are going to hear this afternoon is the other shoe dropping.

The Obama administration will formally declare Monday that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions pose a danger to the public's health and welfare, a move that lays the groundwork for an economy-wide carbon cap even if Congress fails to enact climate legislation, sources familiar with the process said.

The move, which Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa P. Jackson will announce at an afternoon press conference, comes as the largest climate change conference in history gets underway in Copenhagen. It will finalize an initial "endangerment finding" by the government in April.
As Eli was saying when others poo-pooed the chances for climate change legislation
Obama put a gun to Congress' head. That's the entire purpose of the EPA ruling that CO2 is a pollutant that endangers health and welfare. EPA must now draft regulations to limit the damage and THAT will force a vote in Congress on greenhouse gas legislation. The fallback in case Congress does not pass legislation is no longer nothing, but EPA regulation which should concentrate everyone’s mind. Look for EPA to throw some pretty tasty draft regulations out there fast to turn the screws even tighter. Congress has to get out in front of the steamroller. Ethon is gonna look for some flattened liver treats in the middle of the road.
Joe Romm had it earlier. While he is still a bit hot, he is not close to being as whiny, misleading and self absorbed as others Eli could name. Climate Progress has become the place to go to find out about science policy on climate issues


Saturday, December 05, 2009

The answer to the puzzler

A couple of days ago Eli posted two MODTRAN calculations showing what would be seen at 70 km with CO2 for 375 ppm and 37500 ppm CO2 (Eli is a lazy bunny, he just added two zeros to 375)

and asked for an explanation of the donut hole when the CO2 mixing ratio is real high. The answer turns out to be both simple and a key to understanding the greenhouse effect. The clue was that temperature in this simulation decreased from 300 K at the surface to ~190 K at the 18 km tropopause and then increased again in the stratosphere up to where the ozone concentration was highest at ~30 km.

The answer is that at any frequency you are looking at emission from molecules (or aerosols) that are at the level where the emission can reach the detector without being absorbed again. If there is no absorption at a particular frequency you are looking at emission from the surface.

If the concentration is very high, this level moves up for any absorption band. If it moves up higher than the tropopause the temperature at which the CO2 emission that reaches you was emitted will be warmer than for lower CO2 concentrations. Take a look at the emission seen at 70 km if the concentration was 3.75 ppm km (Eli is a lazy bunny. . . )

In this case the strong Q-branch (the sharp part pointing downwards in the middle of the CO2 bending absorption, reaches down to about the 220 K Planck function, indicating that the emission at that wavelength is so strongly absorbed, that one has to get to about 12 km where the temperature is ~220K before the emission would reach a detector at 70 km altitude. Other parts of the band absorb more weakly, and thus the emission that reaches the detector comes from lower down in the atmosphere.

If the CO2 mixing ratio is 37500 ppm then the absorption is so strong that to reach our detector at 70km, it has to be emitted from relatively high in the stratosphere, between 25 and 30 km where the temperature is above 240 K. In the wings of the band, where the absorption is weaker, the emitting level sits below or at the tropopause. Thus the donut hole. Even in the 375 ppm spectra, the Q branch emission comes from above the tropopause as can be seen by the sharp line pointing upwards at the position of the Q branch.

Another way of looking at this is to look at the emission seen at 10 km/375 ppm where the temperature is ~240 K. As can be seen to the left, the center of the line extends down to ~240 K.

There are a bunch of caveats here, the most important of which is that the MODTRAN temperature profile is not adjusted to take feedbacks into account. As raypierre says, if we really stepped the CO2 up to 37500 ppm, all hell would break loose and the temperature profile would in the stratosphere would cool "hiding the blip", a good trick. Bunnies should also note that the CO2 band widens as the concentration increases. This accounts for a great deal of the greenhouse effect.

The idea is very useful for understanding the greenhouse effect.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Dear fellow member of the American Physical Society:

Well, Eli is a member, tho he don't want to be a fellow to any of the undersigned. However, as tragedy repeats itself as farce, the good worthies Austin, Lewis, Happer, Gould and Cohen are trolling the following

This is a matter of great importance to the integrity of the Society. It is being sent to a random fraction of the membership, so we hope you will pass it on.

By now everyone has heard of what has come to be known as ClimateGate, which was and is an international scientific fraud, the worst any of us have seen in our cumulative 223 years of APS membership. For those who have missed the news we recommend the excellent summary article by Richard Lindzen in the November 30 edition of the Wall Street journal, entitled "The Climate Science isn't Settled," for a balanced account of the situation. It was written by a scientist of unquestioned authority and integrity. A copy can be found among the items at http://www.openletter-globalwarming.info/Site/open_letter.html, and a visit to http://www.ClimateDepot.com can fill in the details of the scandal, while adding spice.

What has this to do with APS? In 2007 the APS Council adopted a Statement on global warming (also reproduced at the tinyurl site mentioned above) that was based largely on the scientific work that is now revealed to have been corrupted. (The principals in this escapade have not denied what they did, but have sought to dismiss it by saying that it is normal practice among scientists. You know and we know that that is simply untrue. Physicists are not expected to cheat.)

We have asked the APS management to put the 2007 Statement on ice until the extent to which it is tainted can be determined, but that has not been done. We have also asked that the membership be consulted on this point, but that too has not been done.

None of us would use corrupted science in our own work, nor would we sign off on a thesis by a student who did so. This is not only a matter of science, it is a matter of integrity, and the integrity of the APS is now at stake. That is why we are taking the unusual step of communicating directly with at least a fraction of the membership.

If you believe that the APS should withdraw a Policy Statement that is based on admittedly corrupted science, and should then undertake to clarify the real state of the art in the best tradition of a learned society, please send a note to the incoming President of the APS, with the single word YES in the subject line. That will make it easier for him to count.

Bob Austin, Professor of Physics, Princeton
Hal Lewis, emeritus Professor of Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara
Will Happer, Professor of Physics, Princeton
Larry Gould, Professor of Physics, Hartford
Roger Cohen, former Manager, Strategic Planning, ExxonMobil
Eli suggests fellow members might send the following, or something like it
I unequivocally support the 2007 APS Statement on Climate Change. In fact, in view of scientific evidence published in the two years since the statement was released, I believe that the statement should be strengthened.

We understand that a some members of the Society, lead by Prof. Robert Austin are again trying to impose their mistaken views about climate change on the Society. We note that they are circularizing members asking for support.

Many statements in the letter from Prof. Austin and his colleagues are misleading, argumentative and simply wrong. The STOLEN correspondence that they point to does not contain evidence of fraud. Their statements verge on libel. There are intemperate and sarcastic passages, but who among us has not written such. The letter sentby Prof. Austin and colleagues is as intemperate as any that he rails against.

The scientific work of the CRU and their colleagues has NOT been corrupted, but much of the scientific work on which Prof. Austin and colleagues rely, including that of Prof. Lindzen has been proven wrong (see the chimeral iris effect, or comments on a recent paper by Lindzen and Choi for example). Prof. Lindzen is a well known and long time partisan against taking action on climate change who has frequently published opinion articles, including others in the Wall Street Journal. Climate Depot is a site set up by Marc Morano, a former employee of Sen. Inhofe, for the sole purpose of opposing action on climate change and vilifying scientists whose work demonstrates the dangers of climate change.

While we do not know everything about climate, we do know more than enough to realize that significant action must be taken now. We agree with the APS Policy Statement on Climate Change and support policies and actions that will reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.
You can, of course, add, or subtract, or even oppose Eli's suggestion. If you support the APS Policy Statement on Climate Change, Eli suggests you use the Subject Line: Support APS Climate Change Statement in your letter to the incoming President of the APS ccallan with the additional princeton edu (there are harvesters hereabouts as was pointed out). It might help if those attacked by Mssrs. Austin, Happer, Lewis, Gould and Cohen write under separate cover in more detail. It would, perhaps, not be wise to ask Prof. Callan to look at the information at http://www.DenialDepot.com on the CRU matter.


They have a bridge to sell you

Stoat and friends are tearing the vapid Keith Kloor apart. Eli would like to go after smarter game. Journalism is prone to adopting frames, and smart publicists know how to establish those that advantage their side. Witness John Fleck who tries to shove the entire CRU imbroglio into two convenient ones

And therein lies the problem. The scientists involved, while a small number among the thousands of scientists worldwide working on this issue, have lost their claim to be honest brokers gathering, analyzing and sharing data with the public, politicians and policymakers. They turned into scientized actors trying to use their data to win the political argument. In the process, their actions tarnished many of their colleagues who have not behaved in such a fashion.
actually three, first setting both sides equivalent when, as Steve Bloom points out
"(E)arly on the science became a target of a denial industry whose skills had been perfected in campaigns dating back many decades to the efforts to keep lead in paint and gasoline, and more lately to obscure the ill effects of tobacco. . . ."

I'll add the observation that the "tobacco wars" were only finally resolved (more or less) after the focus of the debate shifted from the science to the lies of the industry and their mouthpieces. There's a lesson there, and Hulme doesn't seem to have picked up on it.
and neither has John, although to a degree Andy Revkin is beginning to get it. It isn't that the arguments on both sides are scientized, but that the arguments on one side are shaped to sound like science. The third is a bunny-bug-a-bear, the nonsense about an "honest broker"

The naive concept of "honest broker" has pushed discussion into a fruitless direction. As with many such things, reality shows how hollow this is.

Brokers do not expand the scope of choices available to clients, they narrow them. You want limitless choices, google. Brokers make markets. Brokers make a living by matching buyers to sellers and taking a commission (You thought they do it for free? What carrot wagon you fall off of bunny?). Ethical brokers go out on the market seeking product suited to clients and will seek clients suited to products available to them. Ethical brokers have mutual obligations to sellers and buyers, to qualify the buyers and vet the sellers, not to sell every piece of nuclear waste to every rube with a cell phone.

Good brokers know what is available and what their buyer's needs are. They select the best matches. The broker you want often tells the client NO, don't do that. Where the client insists on committing financial suicide the ethical broker is obligated to tell the buyer to take the business elsewhere.

If you want a simple example of the cacophony that "honest brokers" provide, think about the strange incoherence of the denialists, who simultaneously believe five to ten mutually contradictory things about climate ranging from there is no such thing as the greenhouse effect, it's all cosmic rays, mysterious 1500 year cycles and more. The CRU folk and their colleagues on the other hand are ethical and expert brokers providing information to policy makers and the public based on study and effort. They are not happy when the propagandists start to befoul the nest and the starlings** start squawking.

In other words, brokers are experts, and to expect them to tell you that shit is shinola is just the sort of thing that the honey wagon industry in the interests of fairness favors. It is similarly insane to demand that a climate scientist who has studies an area intensely and reached a set of conclusions about the dangers of continuing to emit CO2 at current rates to tell you that the guy on the corner with the Exxon sign on his back may have a point.

Eli has said this before, it bears repeating.


**Starlings are small but noisy birds which as Ed Darell points out are not just noisy, but noisy in gangs. Starlings drive songbirds out of their nests, harass the songbird young, steal their food, and generally pose a barbarian-style blight upon the bird world. Starlings steal the crops from farmers, and perform no useful service in return (like eating insect pests, or providing Beauty and Song). Starlings congregate in huge gangs in cities, befouling automobiles, sidewalks, and giving people heebie-jeebies whenever they remember the old Hitchcock movie. A flock of starlings is a perfect description of the mob trying to bring down Phil Jones and Mike Mann.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Carbon sequestration rears its ugly head again

Carbon sequestration is one of those things that might be a good thing, and on the other hand might not. Roger Jr, and Andrew Dessler are duking it out at Nature Geoscience. Issues include the energy cost of sequestering the carbon, the seal on the storage volume and more. However, IEHO, sequestration is a poor second choice. Better to find something useful to do with the CO2, a point that has escaped everyone except those actually working on the problem. There are a variety of clever ideas, whose principal virtue is that if you can extract value, especially energy, from the CO2, you don't have to have an absolutely perfect sequesterization to have a real effect.

Curtis Oldenburg at Lawrence Livermore has a potentially useful idea to combine carbon sequestration and enhanced gas recovery, using the CO2 to push methane out of old natural gas wells.

With their proven records of gas recovery, demonstrated integrity against gas leakage, existing infrastructure of wells and pipelines, and land use history of gas production and transportation, depleted natural gas fields are attractive targets for carbon sequestration by direct carbon dioxide (CO2) injection. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that as much as 140 GtC could be sequestered in depleted natural gas reservoirs worldwide (IEA, 1997) and 10 to 25 GtC in the U.S. alone (Reichle et al., 1999). Although target gas reservoirs for carbon sequestration are depleted in methane (CH4) with pressures as low as 20–50 bars, they are not devoid of methane. Prior studies have suggested that additional methane can be recovered from depleted natural gas reservoirs by CO2 injection (van der Burgt et al., 1992; Blok et al., 1997; Oldenburg et al., 2001). The idea is to inject CO2 at some distance from producing wells and take advantage of the repressurization of the reservoir to produce additional CH4. The augmented methane production can be used to offset the cost of CO2 injection. We have termed this process
CSEGR, or Carbon Sequestration with Enhanced Gas Recovery.
Folk at the University of Kentucky have been looking at CO2 injection to push methane out of coal and black shale formations. A major part of the heating value of coal is in volatiles, but most of these are lost when the coal is pulverized for transport out of the mine. About 20 years ago, Eli tried to obtain a large block of coal to study this, only to find that in modern coal mines, the coal is broken into small pieces when cut deep in the mines or in the open pits.


A radiative transfer brain teaser

Here are two results from MODTRAN. The first is for CO2 @ 375 ppm, close to current conditions, looking down from 70 km. It is the default condition for the applet maintained by David Archer at the University of Chicago, and it will be the takeoff point for a number of comments at Rabett Run in the next couple of weeks, including some material translated from Klimakrise. Much of the argument will be taken from David Archer's Understanding the Forecast, a fine gift of the season.

The second, below, increases the CO2 mixing ratio to 37500 ppm, well beyond anything possible.

The indentation btw 600 and 800 wavenumbers is absorption in the CO2 bending vibration.

The question is why does that hole appear in the center of the CO2 absorption

For those of you who need a hint, click through to the rest of this post. and look at the temperature.

Now some of you will ask, why use such an unrealistic CO2 mixing ratio? Although Rabett Run has been steering clear of the recent unpleasantness, it is this sort of forcing extremes that scientists use to learn about nature and code (btw, what you see above has a physical basis, not a computational one).

Anyone want to play?

UPDATE: The answer has been posted