Monday, August 30, 2010

Mail, Eli gets mail

Ben Santer had dead rats thrown at his door, Phil Jones gets death threats, Joe Romm is disrespected in the Pielkesphere. . . Eli, well Eli gets mail. Wily Coyote writed

Dear Mr. Dr. Professor Rabbit,
Mr. Revkin has raised the issue of "tribalism" in science, which is defined primarily by size of group (smallish, inbred and characterized by, if I have the term correct, "gropethink"). You represent a group size of exactly one, which is highly small, and therefore with minimal genetic diversity (not counting the X and Y chromosomes, assuming male rabbits have such). You are therefore guilty of tribalism and inbreeeding in the extreme. Please henceforth cease and desist in these practices or I shall call in the my fellow coyotes forthwith and ex post pronto. We've had enough thank you.

but there is more
Dear Mr. Dr. Professor Rabbit,

I wish to apologize for an error in my previous post. Apparently Mr. Dr. Revkin did not in fact raise the issue of tribalism in science; rather, the issue was raised by some "un-named" individuals in an email he received. Mr. Dr. Revkin merely appropriated the issue, like a croc grabbing a baby gazelle by the snout at the waterhole, and then regurgitated it in his weekly blog address to the nation. I do apologize for this oversight. Nevertheless me and my fellow coyotes are still hungry and you are the closest thing available at the moment, and we just received out ACME jet powered roller skates, which are non-returnable.

Eli suspects the work of a specific, perhaps former, friend of his. Ms. Rabett sends greetings and mentions that Eli is delicious.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Andy Revkin's Rent Party

UPDATE: Joe Romm contributes generously to the rent party, with many links, Steve Easterbrook serendipitously at the very same time, crashes the party, and Eli, Eli, as you can see below, is a very moderate bunny. Read it all for many details and excellent analysis.

In commenting on the well verneer veneer footnoted** "Heaven and Earth" Michael Ashley concluded that

Plimer's book deserves to languish on the shelves along with similar pseudo-science such as the writings of Immanuel Velikovsky and Erich von Daniken.
but Eli sadly notes that neither Velikovsy's nor von Daniken's book have languished on the shelves, and, regretfully, Plimer's book has found an audience in spite of being demolished root and branch. To paraphrase Mary McCarthy, every word is a lie, including the binding, but buyers there are aplenty, or at least enough, and Plimer has reaped invited lectures, TV interviews and round the world travel.

Eli asks himself why is this so?. Simply there is money to be made and fame to be reaped. There are lots of ways to make money in the megaphone game. There is the little kid way, get your daddy to pay you to write. Many "think tanks" are happy to play mommy and act as honest brokers in that game. Among our friends, Fred Singer and Pat "Satanic Gassy" Michaels (RTFR bunnies) lead the way.

But this is the INTERTUBE age, and new methods are being invented as we suck down our Sunday morning coffee. A character by the name of Tom Fuller is earning a living over at the Examiner using a get paid for eyeballs strategy. His income is generated by the number of pageviews. To push his peanut forward, Tommy is the climate champion blogwhore. Raising the rent requires confrontation and noise. Fuller has both under control.

Which, in the Rabett's usual go around the circle way, brings us to Andy Revkin. Andy, you may recall, was a science reporter for the NY Times who took a buyout about a year ago (Eli being too lazy to go look the date up), retaining the rights to DotEarth. In essence he is trying to set himself up as the thinking hare's Tom Fuller, but even with the best of intentions, he has to play to the crowd. He blames every climate scientist for not knowing everything
A prime problem with climate science — related to peer review — is that it is implicitly done by very small tribes (sea ice folks, glacier folks, modelers, climate-ecologists, etc) so real peer review — avoiding confirmation bias — is tough, for sure...
Do I trust all climate scientists, research institutions, funding sources, journals and others involved in this arena to convey the full context of findings and to avoid sometimes stepping beyond the data? I wouldn’t be a journalist if I answered yes.
Of course, there are members of the tribe who are used to pow-wowing with others at the IPCC meeting, but they, of course, are guilty, guilty, guilty. Yet just to make sure that everyone knows he is an honest broker, Revikin says that he trusts climate science
Do I trust climate science? As a living body of intellectual inquiry exploring profoundly complex questions, yes.
Andy does make sure to point to a report of the error on Himalyan glacier melting in the AR4, one of the few, like even a Rabett could count them on one paw, in a huge report. But in journalist calculus, this outweighs everything. Fair and balanced is our Andy. Eli's response was not hopeful (it's number 2)
A really depressing post, which just about kills any remaining credibility you ever had and it comes right above another one which shows how your ilk jumped on the bandwagon to libel Pachauri. That the original source has been forced to retract is cold comfort, the damage was already done.

In the huge IPCC report, only a few mistakes were found. Most of those that you blew hot air into have now been shown to be fabrications (see, for example
the Amazon story, where the Telegraph was forced to take down it's article)yet you have the gall to claim that it is the scientists who are behaving badly.
True, that was the Sunday Times, but what the heck (and Eli posted an immediate follow up pointing out his error).

Revkin is playing the Pielke game, providing excuses for the wrong side of the street, the one he knows is wrong, and then, coyly lifting his leg to do you know what, while insisting to those who object that his heart is in the right place.

Do journalists have hearts? No, they have sources. More to the point, do they have ethics? Is their job simply to play telephone, distorting what others say to them, or to inform. Rabetts inquire.

** verneer veneer footnoting is an art invented by Ann Coulter and perfected by the denialsphere, copious footnotes pointing to sources which range from irrelevant to flatly contradictory of what is claimed, in the hope that readers will not follow up. It works.


Judy and the INTERTUBES

Over at Stoat (UPDATE: Wm is still not impressed) Judith Curry is learning about the INTERTUBES, given enough eyes, everything is checked. Wm. Connolley, who in a previous life was a modeler with the British Antarctic Survey, put up a detailed criticism of Liu and Curry's recent paper, Accelerated Warming of the Southern Ocean and Its Impacts on the Hydrological Cycle and Sea Ice, which seeks to explain the increasing sea ice extent in the Antarctic winter in the face of a warming Southern Ocean

Associated with the warming, there has been an enhanced atmospheric hydrological cycle in the Southern Ocean that results in an increase of the Antarctic sea ice for the past three decades through the reduced upward ocean heat transport and increased snowfall
but, eventually as it must, Liu and Curry conclude that
The increasing heating from below (ocean) and above (atmosphere) and increased liquid precipitation associated with the enhanced hydrological cycle results in a projected decline of the Antarctic sea ice
The latter has the denialosphere up in arms. That, as they say, is their business.

Hank Roberts has been. . . . annoyed by Liu and Currys' not mentioning (the great mentioner, at least in Web of Science, being the currency of science. Engineers and physicians take cash) Manabe, Spellman and Stouffer, published in 1992 as well as Zwally, Comiso and Parkinson from a decade later on which appear to have. . . .anticipated the Liu and Curry paper (see comments at Stoat and elsewhere). IHRHO the claims of"newness" in the Ga. Tech press release accompanying Liu and Curry, were. . . (Eli is trying to be nice and searching for the appropriate words) a bit over the top

Curry eventually replies to Wm's criticisms in detail, including
3) the hypothesis that you put forward is not novel.

We cite the Zhang 2007 paper that describes a different mechanism that is not inconsistent with ours, but does not include the atmospheric hydrological cycle. I probably read the Manabe et al. paper back in the 1990’s, but didn’t recall it as we were writing this paper. Did any of you (other than Grumbine) actually read the Manabe paper? There is one statement in the Manabe paper that is relevant: “ the reduction in surface salinity resulting from the increase of freshwater supply at the oceanic surface is mainly responsible for the weaker convective activity in the G integration.” This statement is made in a paragraph discussing the deep ocean convection in the Southern Ocean. Manabe doesn’t discuss the increasing sea ice extent in this context. Grumbine connected the dots in the Manabe et al. paper and came up with generally the same idea we did (we came up with the idea via a different route), and describes it in a half sentence. So, our hypothesis is not put forward per se in the Manabe et al. paper. I occasionally check in at Grumbine’s site, didn’t spot his post on the Antarctic sea ice. Note, the Zhang paper did not cite the Manabe paper either; it just doesn't say much about the Antarctic sea ice.
She also mentions that
Hank, see answer to question #3 re the Manabe paper. Why was a press release issued on this? Georgia Tech (along with nearly every other university) encourages researchers to publicize any results that they think are of broad interest. Pretty much anything that gets published in a journal with a press embargo policy (e.g. Science, Nature, PNAS) is in this category.
and Hank points to the obvious

No, that wasn't my question. I understand press releases are routine.

I asked why the language of the press release suggests the idea is new, because it was familiar to me as a casual reader, e.g. Zwalley et al. 2002 mention:
"... [Manabe et al., 1992], gives the counter-intuitive result that the sea ice cover would actually increase with global climate warming ..."

Curry, mounts high horse, and replies
Hank, the paper was reviewed by 3 reviewers at Science and 3 reviewers at PNAS. None of the reviewers mentioned that this was unoriginal (or said we should cite Manabe or Zwalley). Your previous post mentioned the Manabe et al. 1992 paper. I read the paper, see message 43 point 3. They mention increasing snowfall in the context of oceanic deep convection but not in the context of sea ice. As far as I can tell, this is the first time a Zwalley paper has been mentioned in the context of our paper.
Zwally, et al. (btw, everyone has been inserting an extra e) has been heavily cited and not to put a fine point on it, but one of those cites is to a 2004 paper by a J. Liu and J. A Curry and Douglas G. Martinson Interpretation of recent Antarctic sea ice variability

Now some, not Eli he hastens to add, might have expected anyone who cites an article to have at least read the abstract, which reads in part
The observed increase in Antarctic sea ice cover is counter to the observed decreases in the Arctic. It is also qualitatively consistent with the counter-intuitive prediction of a global atmospheric-ocean model of increasing sea ice around Antarctica with climate warming due to the stabilizing effects of increased snowfall on the Southern Ocean.
Others, might soldier on and read the first page, which includes this nugget:
[Manabe et al., 1992], gives the counterintuitive result that the sea ice cover would actually increase with global climate warming. The physical processes in the model that cause the predicted sea ice increase are increased precipitation with a warmer atmosphere in polar regions, more snowfall on sea ice, lower salinity in the near-surface ocean layers, more stable mixed layer and reduced heat flux to the surface, and consequently, more sea ice.
At this point the auditors go nuts. Must be a tribal thing.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


UPDATE: Neven is doing a much better job on this stuff than Eli. The comments @ RR are also doing an excellent job.

The east and west coasts of Greenland are ice free, the Northern Sea Route and the Northwest Passage Main Channel are open, and there is almost a route directly over the pole from the Beaufort Sea to the Greenland Sea with 50% ice cover or less.

UPDATE: Anyone interested in Arctic weather can use the map at antropolis. Clicking on the location brings up a weather report. A nice toy, and today looks right toasty.

The first tanker has cleared the Northern Sea Route and moved a shipment to China. In looking for this Eli found an interesting source of news about the European Arctic

Keep moving, never mind. Things are just as they were

First Cut

Michael Tobis has written some dialogs acout climate change and wonders how to display them. Rabett Studios, has a suggestion:

And now a word from our sponsor. . . . .

Back to our program

Stay tuned to Rabett Studios, bringing you the finest in Flash Video entertainment, but first a word from one of our sponsors

Back to the show

Be careful out there

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Dumb America Contest Winners

The Stoat has noted that PT Barnum had it right when he said that no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public. With the help of a bunch of upside-downers we have had wonderful examples of the dumb eating their own as they dined on Roy Spencer and Roger Pielke Sr. liver dumplings and Engelbeen Rijstafel.

However, good news, only 20% of the American public thinks that President Obama is a follower of Islam. 80% of us know enough to cross the street safely. Joel Achenbach in the Washington Post asks if Americans are total numbskulls

God help us. Could so many Americans really be that dumb, ill-informed, paranoid, gullible and goofy? It must be tricky being Barack Obama, winding down the U.S. presence in volatile Iraq, trying to keep Afghanistan from degenerating, pondering war with Iran, even as, according to the latest bulletin, one in five Americans thinks he is a Muslim.

Why not just believe he's an alien from outer space? Or a Manchurian Candidate, programmed by, say, the Chinese to bring America to ruin?

Keith Kloor (**), says opinions differ. Aschenbach has a different take
What this shows is that disinformation remains powerful and infectious, and that large elements of the country distrust the official story about anything. People assume, as the starting point on any issue, that they're being lied to. Maybe they want to believe that because it offers an explanation, of sorts, for why the world isn't the way we think it ought to be.
The solution, of course, is study. But that, of course would make you an authoritarian.

**Keith, if you attack people unfairly, don't expect that others will be amused because your heart is pure. Some, not Eli of course, may even differ on the latter.

God, Eli is old

So over on Deltoid, Eli was reminded that the Albemarle County Circuit Court is ruling holding a hearing today on Ken Cuccinelli's SLAPP suit against the University of Virginia and that there will be protest today at UVA starting half an hour ago. Now Eli is tech savy for an ancient relic and he went poking about the net to find more, tried to contact the court to see if they would be posting the decision etc., when Facebook occurred to his as the source of what's happening now, and sure enough there is a page with a link to a radio interview with one of the protest organizers.

Stay tuned to Rabett Run, Facebook for the older set.

UPDATE: News from the Virginia Pilot setting the stage.

UPDATE: A bit more from the Roanoke Times

During a 75-minute hearing, Albemarle County Circuit Judge Paul Peatross repeatedly questioned whether Cuccinelli had defined the “nature of the conduct” that raises the prospect of fraud and justifies a demand for information from the university.

“You need some basis, don’t you?” said Peatross, who told attorneys he will issue a ruling within 10 days,

Deputy Attorney General Wesley Russell argued that Mann applied for grants partly on the basis of statistical research which contains a “pattern of potential manipulation of data.”

Mann is one of the authors of the so-called “hockey stick” graph that depicts sharply rising global temperatures in the last century. He has been a target of global warming skeptics, partly because one of the stone e-mails referenced a “statistical trick” in his research.

Chuck Rosenberg, an attorney retained by UVa, said the term has been taken out of context. He also argued that the attorney general cannot serve a civil investigative demand on a state agency and did not specify conduct that could constitute fraud.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Judy's Tribe

Or maybe not. Bob Ward in the Guardian brings word that

Climate sceptics mislead

the public

and that one of the newer propaganda farms, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a creation of the Lawson clan,
has commissioned an investigation into the three official inquiries about the messages.

These inquiries, by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, an independent panel chaired by Lord Oxburgh, and an independent review led by Sir Muir Russell, largely cleared climate researchers of allegations of misconduct or fraud, but criticised a lack of transparency over data and methods.

However, the foundation dismissed the findings of the inquiries and commissioned Andrew Montford, author of The Hockey Stick Illusion: Climategate and the Corruption of Science and Bishop Hill blogger, to investigate how they were conducted.

Ward, points out some of Montfords best didles, noting that, among other things, Andrew has an excellent memory hole

he claims that "senior climatologists have sought to undermine the peer review process and bully journals into suppressing dissenting views".

Montford tries to justify this assertion in his first chapter by highlighting the "difficulty in getting into print any result that went against the idea of catastrophic global warming".

He claims that a paper by Shaopeng Huang and co-authors on proxy temperature reconstructions from borehole measurements "never appeared in print" after being rejected by the journal Nature in 1997 because it showed that the medieval warm period had higher temperatures than today.

However Montford strangely neglects to tell the reader that the rejected paper was revised and published in the same year by the journal Geophysical Research Letters, and that the authors published other papers in Nature in subsequent years.

Furthermore, Montford neglects to mention a later acknowledgement by Huang and his co-authors that their 1997 work had excluded readings from the upper 100 metres of boreholes, and so provided "virtually no information about the 20th century". They noted in a paper in 2008 that when all of the borehole data are considered, the global average temperature today is shown to be higher than during the medieval warm period. However, Montford simply omits awkward truths like this which would get in the way of his conspiracy theory.

But in important news, the Guardian also notes that washing up in the dishwasher is about as good as doing it by hand as long as you air dry

The carbon footprint of doing the dishes:
Almost zero CO2 by hand in cold water (but the plates aren't clean)
540g CO2 by hand, using water sparingly and not too hot
770g CO2 in a dishwasher at 55°C
990g CO2 in a dishwasher at 65°C
8000g CO2 by hand, with extravagant use of water

Eli chomps his carrots raw. Ms Rabett inquires about paper plates.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Ethical Hypocrites

Ben Hale at Cruel Mistress points to a new paper of his with Lisa Dilling, on Geoengineering, Ocean Fertilization, and the Problem of Permissible Pollution which interested bunnies (pay attention you in the back) can download and read. Rather than reproducing the abstract, available at Cruel Mistress, Eli wants to pick at their ground rules in the context of current drive bys. Their basis is a set of rules for ethical responses to climate change set up by Dale Jameson

the following conditions must be met: ‘‘(1) the project is technically feasible; (2) its consequences can be predicted reliably; (3) it would produce states that are socioeconomically preferable to the alternatives; (4) implementing the project would not seriously and systematically violate any important, well-founded ethical principles or considerations’’ (Jamieson 1996, 326).
Jameson himself was, shall we say, not very hopeful that these conditions could be met, but Hale and Dilling are downright super unhopeful. They allow that while 1-3 are not today technically possible today, further research and development could, for ocean fertilization and other geoengineering remediation be possible, but the ethical barriers are impossibly high.
Our argument turns on three basic moral claims. Any of these claims in isolation may not be sufficient to disallow ocean fertilization, but taken together, they compel the conclusion that ocean fertilization is not permissible. The first claim is that the antecedent condition, that is, the identification of carbon dioxide as a polluting substance to the atmosphere, cannot be disentangled from the decision to counteract its presence in the atmosphere by fertilizing the ocean with iron. In other words, we would not be contemplating the idea of ocean fertilization were it not for the problem of carbon dioxide being released into the air by human activities. For this article, we stipulate that what is wrong with individual-level pollution is that it is disrespectful of others. Given that the release of carbon dioxide has been identified as a wrong action, simply conducting an ex post facto remediating action to repair damages does not alone authorize or permit the action (Hale and Grundy 2009).
The second claim rests on notions of justification and obtaining assent from affected parties for the remediating action (Habermas 1991). To evaluate whether it is possible to reach a mutually respectful outcome, we must be able to identify a position that ‘‘any reasonable person would (or could) accept as permissible’’ (Habermas 1991, 66). If assent cannot be obtained, the risk of wrong to parties affected is reasonable and possible. Given that the ocean is a global reservoir, connected to a global atmosphere, actions to fertilize the iron would potentially need justification from the world’s population, a practical and political unfeasibility. Thus, the justificatory burden cannot be met.
Eli disagrees with this, it is, after all a rejection of representative government. IEHO permission from governments representative of a majority of people on the planet could legitimately take such action. In that manner, such a decision even though not unanimous, could be properly taken. Dilling and Hale continue
Third, we suggest that the fact that ocean fertilization moves the world to a new, unknown state, rather than returning the world to its original condition before the initial polluting act makes it different than other cases of more limited remediation, which seek to return the world to its original state. These three claims underpin our argument that ocean fertilization is a morally impermissible solution to counter climate change.
The third point is one that the recent flooding in Pakistan and the Russian heat wave have moved to the fore. On blogs (see, you should read preprints), it was Michael Tobis who raised this point originally and then proceeded to extend it here, and here and here. This has been picked up by Brad Johnson, the New York Times and others. Eli boiled it down to
we are entering a period when weather conditions, which were in any meaningful sense impossible before, are going to be commonly encountered. That friends is scary anthropic global climate change or SAGCC
We now see that this has been an important part of the attack on Michael, and to a lesser extent, Eli by Keith Kloor who bleated that because they did not advocate as strongly for adaptation as to mitigation they were ethically challenged. Now some, not Eli, he hastens to add, might actually have read what Tobis and Eli wrote, and having done so, some, not Eli, the Rabett hastens to add again for emphasis, might understand that Kloor, sorry gentlebunnies there are no other words for it, really was behaving unethically, aka lying. MT and Eli have always known and stated that adaptation is needed, but also maintained that adaptation alone to climate change is futile without mitigation. Hale and Dilling describe the ethical problems with techno-breakthrough policy fairy dust
Second, what we have aimed to show is that no act of remediation can be understood independently of the acts that necessitate remediation in the first place. If the remediation is oriented around an ongoing anthropogenic cause, and that cause continues to be generative of the problem that is necessitating the remediation, then it requires extra justificatory work to demonstrate its permissibility. This is so not because it amounts to ‘‘treating the symptoms’’ of the problem instead of the root cause, though this may be a concern as well. This is so not because it initiates a so-called moral hazard in which individuals do not need to bear the risks associated with their actions. But rather, it is so because the act of remediation is tied tightly to the same principle that enabled action in the first instance, and insofar as this act is impermissible, so too are subsequent acts that piggyback upon it.
The same arguments apply to sulphate (happy now Wm?) aerosol injection, but may not, at least in the view of Hale and Dilling apply to air capture. However Eli believes that they underestimate the intrusiveness of air capture, the chemical wastes that it would generate as well as the issues surrounding disposal of the CO2. The necessary size of the enterprise will make it universally intrusive in the same magnitude as the fossil fuel industry, with episodic random disasters.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Flat New Puzzler

The question dear bunnies, is why does this figure from Tamino's post on change have the answer to what is going on in the flat new paper on proxy deconstruction by McShane and Wyner (ps there are lots of hints in the comments at Open Mind but here is another one, look at the figure and then remember that McShane and Wyner are claiming that noise gives a better match to the global temperature series than proxys) Also take a look at the comments at Policy Lass

Eli's answer later tonight.

UPDATE: Eli does have a day job folks......

When you calibrate, respectable Rabett's want the largest spread of the variable calibrated against as possible. M&W calibrated proxies that respond to regional changes against the GLOBAL temperature record. If you look at Tamino's figure, for about 80 of ~120 years (M&S only go to 2000, there ain't a lot of proxies that go to 2010), a flat line is about the best description of what happened. This covers the period from ~1880 - 1920 and ~ 1940 - 1980. In such a situation, random noise is the best description of the variation. So especially if you hold out the last 30 years and prattle on about, bunnies find that random noise about a straight line provides the best fit, which is what the boys find, and of course it does not capture the sharp rise in the last30 year period. As they say,

In other words, our model performs better when using highly autocorrelated noise rather than proxies to predict temperature. The real proxies are less predictive than our "fake" data.
Since the proxies are affected by the local temperatures (and precipitation and some other things that are all local) and the local temperatures varied much more strongly than the global in most cases, and surely for those cases where the proxies vary strongly, this is kindergarten work. Trivially, this procedure underestimates the response of the proxies to the temperature over long periods and exaggerates the error projected back to the year dot. You are fitting noisy data to a straight line to find a slope? C'mon. QED

Tim Lambert has more, and, as Eli said, the comments at Policy Lass and Tamino's are fine. Judith Curry is sitting on the sticky wicket at Kloor's and the unusual suspects, well, there is a reason they are unusual.

UPDATE: Martin Vermeer says it more clearly at Deltoid


My explanation at link for why the M&W reconstruction is erroneous, was a little too simple. It's the Wabett who gets it completely right: the fundamental error is calibration only against a hemispheric average, when local data -- the 5x5 degree grid cells of instrumental data as used by Mann et al. -- provide a so much richer source of variability -- i.e., signal -- to calibrate against.

It is this poor signal/noise ratio that helps the calibration pick up spurious low vs. high latitude temp difference "signal", which in the reconstruction interacts with the Earth axis tilt change effect.

What stands is the observation that doing the calibration against the instrumental PC1 (instead of hemispheric average) will give you back pretty exactly the genuine Mann stick(TM) even in spite of this.

Congrats Eli!

Evidently there will be a comments on this paper at the journal (they select a few people to comment). Hopefully, much of the back and forth, with the cheerleading and booing edited out will be picked up.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The loaded gun

MT has really started something,

Are the current events in Russia "because of" "global warming"? To put the question in slightly more formal terms, are we now looking at something that is no longer a "loading the dice" situation but is a "this would, practically certainly, not have happened without human interference" situation?
which Eli found a pithier way of putting:
As Dirty Harry would say, at some point the bunnies have to ask not if the dice are loaded, but if the 44 Magnum is.
and has now hit the New York Times front page in an article by Justin Gillis, In Weather Chaos, a Case for Global Warming, no question marks and no quotes from the usual denialists. It looks like Stephen Schneider is having a good day.

“The climate is changing,” said Jay Lawrimore, chief of climate analysis at the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. “Extreme events are occurring with greater frequency, and in many cases with greater intensity.”

He described excessive heat, in particular, as “consistent with our understanding of how the climate responds to increasing greenhouse gases.”

Gavin Schmidt weighs in

“If you ask me as a person, do I think the Russian heat wave has to do with climate change, the answer is yes,” said Gavin Schmidt, a climate researcher with NASA in New York. “If you ask me as a scientist whether I have proved it, the answer is no — at least not yet.”

The Russians have had a come to Jesus month

“Everyone is talking about climate change now,” President Dmitri A. Medvedev told the Russian Security Council this month. “Unfortunately, what is happening now in our central regions is evidence of this global climate change, because we have never in our history faced such weather conditions in the past.”

In Eli's little corner of cyberspace this is a basic question, because if the cost of emissions is being paid in lives and fortune NOW, some people, not that Eli would ever care to point an ear, are exposed as having championed dangerous and immoral policies of delay and little to no action.

The Bunny notes with interest that a certain occupant of Andy Revkin's Rolladex is not consulted for this article. It must be a great thing for Jim Prall Bill Anderegg, and Jacob Harold that their recent paper is having such a strong effect.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bye bye. . .

Sometimes words are not needed UPDATE: but here are a few. The sudden dive is a strong indication that the ice is crumbling. There is very little thick multi year sea ice left and it may be going fast as the report from the NSIDC says

This past winter's negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation transported old ice (four, five, and more years old) from an area north of the Canadian Archipelago. The ice was flushed southwards and westward into the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, as noted in our April post. Ice age data show that back in the 1970s and 1980s, old ice drifting into the Beaufort Sea would generally survive the summer melt season. However, the old, thick ice that moved into this region is now beginning to melt out, which could further deplete the Arctic’s remaining store of old, thick ice. The loss of thick ice has been implicated as a major cause of the very low September sea ice minima observed in recent years.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Reopening the poles

Well, A-Ray has won the Mockton Limmerick Contest (eight votes as of now), so all he has to do is contact Eli and collect his winnings.

OTOH, there has been a recent flood of entries, so the Rabett will reopen the contest in a couple of weeks to give the new entrants a chance. Gonna drink Eli out of house and home you are.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

MT asks a scary question

From in it for the gold, MT asks:

Are the current events in Russia "because of" "global warming"? To put the question in slightly more formal terms, are we now looking at something that is no longer a "loading the dice" situation but is a "this would, practically certainly, not have happened without human interference" situation?
UPDATE: Eli thought of a pithier way of saying this:
As Dirty Harry would say, at some point the bunnies have to ask not if the dice are loaded, but if the 44 Magnum is.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Why you should read Rabett Run

and why Tony Watts is dangerous.

A late comment on a recent puzzler newly brings this reply

Rachel said...

Thank you very much all of you, I had a take-home test in oceanography and "skin altitude" is NOWHERE on the Internet except for on this forum, and I needed the definition for a high point question. So thank you, and a very interesting discussion.

jre provided the answer before the question was asked

The lapse rate is indeed central to the greenhouse effect. To my mind, the best concise discussion of why this is so is David Archer's. To paraphrase:
1) Once you know insolation, emissivity and albedo, you can ring up Stefan and Boltzmann and know the earth's skin temperature.
2) Skin altitude is determined by absorption, reflection and re-radiation by wavelength at all altitudes. In general, higher IR opacity results in higher skin altitude.
3) Surface temperature may be found by taking the skin temperature (known from radiative equilibrium) and the skin altitude (known from atmospheric radiative properties), then sliding down to the surface at a constant lapse rate. Higher skin altitude + constant lapse rate -> higher surface temperature.

Armed with these few concepts and a clear mental picture of the atmospheric temperature profile, such as the one you have kindly provided, anyone can explain the greenhouse effect to a climate skeptic. For all the good it will do you.

But this also points to the value of informative blogs (see left hand side) and the danger of disinformative blogs. What do we need to do the honest broker asks?

Monday, August 02, 2010

The way it goes

Ethon flew back from Boulder with long stopovers in Denver, and Lord help him O'Hare. He's been getting old and peckish, and has taken to flying commercial for long hauls. Except for the food (no liver, never), he doesn't complain much. So the Bird and Eli were sitting around discussing knowledge and the difference between Philosophy, Policy, Science and Politics, you know, Honest Broker stuff. Eli thought that it was really simple, Philosophy is thinking about what should be, and Science is thinking about what is. Policy is reconciling the two, and Politics, Politics is Jindal Berm Theology, or as Roger Jr. said to Ethon, getting elected is the only thing that counts.

Ever since he was a little kit, Eli has been hearing from the Jindal Berm School, about how 1970s science predicted a new ice age was on the way. Stoat has a cute little vanity page on the subject, and occupying pride of place, the number one "proof", the Euro-cooling Journal Article Contest Winner, has always been Rasool and Schneider, Science (1971) 138 "Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide and Aerosols: Effects of Large Increases on Global Climate".

This, of course, is the paper which birthed the term "to be Rasooled", as denialists world wide Rasool Rasool, disappearing him down the citation hole and always refer to this as the late Stephen Schneider's paper. This is quite amusing as S. Ichtiaque has turned in to a Pielke Sr. clone, but then he never liked Jim Hansen much after hiring him. Turns out they might be right, as we shall see, yet Schneider was a young postdoc at the time, Rasool was the senior author.

So at last we come to the point of this post, how does science correct itself, and indeed it has, the consensus value of ~ 3 K/ CO2 doubling has been consistently reaffirmed many times in many ways, and the arms of the black knight, the very high (above 5K) and very low (below 2K) chopped off as improbably with numerous lines of evidence. Of course, the black knights, such as low end Lindzen keep on trying. So how are these appendixes (the vestigial useless organs) dealt with. They remain in print. Almost none are challenged in comments, but in a small community, everyone knows, word passes. However, as climate has become a policy issue with a much larger audience, this is no longer working, which accounts for the increased number of comments on seriously flawed papers and so, Eli adds a bit to the hysterical record.

As just about everyone knows, Rasool and Schneider used too low a value of the climate sensitivity to CO2 increase, although their aerosol sensitivity was not bad and that, it is important to know, was a significant contribution. A footnote, added probably at the insistence of the editor, points out that others found much larger CO2 sensitivities, which would more or less be the IPCC recommendation, 2-4.5 K for CO2 doubling.

Using their sensitivities, Rasool and Schneider tried to estimate future aerosol increases from fossil fuel burning and other sources and concluded that this

should raise the present background opacity by a factor of 4, our calculations suggest a decrease in global temperature by as much as 3.5 oC. Such a large decrease in the average temperature of Earth, sustained over a period of few years, is believed to be sufficient to trigger an ice age. However, by that time, nuclear power may have largely replaced fossil fuels as a means of energy production."
This is just about the only such prediction in the scientific literature, but has given rise to a cottage industry of claims. In the natural course of science, it was quickly and conclusively established by other calculations that R&S's value for climate sensitivity was too low, and the higher values, close to the current consensus ones were correct, and there was no danger of a new ice age. Why Eli put that in bold will soon become clear, but what it does show is the effective way that science has of correcting such mistakes. UPDATE: And as we shall see, Schneider himself soon, ok, relatively soon, corrected the error.

Still, where did that estimate for low CO2 sensitivity come from? Eli found the smoking gun in a 2000 AIP oral history interview by Spencer Weart with Jim Hanson (emphasis added)
Weart: You’ve known Schneider from way back, you said?

Hansen: Yes.

Weart: In what sense? Did you run into him at meetings?

Hansen: No, no. He was a student. He actually got his degree in engineering, but he got introduced to this topic by Ichtiaque Rasool, who was the guy who was later attacking me. The guy who got me my job and was attacking me, referring to our earlier situation. So Ichtiaque got Steve to work as a post-doc under him, I believe it was just after Steve graduated from Columbia. They wrote a paper on the effect of aerosols on climate, and ended up saying that the Earth may be headed towards the next Ice Age. I actually helped Steve with his calculations because he was not really a radiation transfer person, so I gave him equations for the scattering the solar part of the problem. He did the thermal part of the problem, and actually, he did a kind of slightly sticky CO2 calculation. He understated the greenhouse effect by a factor of two or so. We later figured out looking at his computer program that it was his mistake.

Weart: I’m curious. What was it?

Hansen: Just his calculation of the infrared opacity of the greenhouse gas greenhouse gas, CO2, was wrong.

Weart: Problem with the data?

Hansen: You’d have to ask Andy. I don’t remember the details. Andy Lacis, he’ll probably remember. What was the point? Oh, Steve Schneider. He and I went with my wife, climbing on Storm King Mountain. So we were pretty good friends.
UPDATE: Below, in the comments, Kooiti Masuda points out that
Schneider discussed in his paper in 1975 the sensitivity of climate to CO2 based on several studies available then, including Rasool and Schneider 1971.

S.H. Schneider, 1975: On the carbon dioxide-climate confusion. J. Atmos. Sci., 32, 2060 - 2066.

He introduced "A useful surface temperature-CO2 concentration sensitivity parameter". Though I am not sure whether this is the very first paper to discuss it, I think we can say the paper started discussion about that parameter popular (among experts). The paper is referred to as "in press" by Broecker's 1975 "Global Warming" paper (which is discussed recently by Stefan R. in RealClimate). I think the assessment of CO2-climate sensitivity by Schneider convinced Broecker the outlook of warming.

Schneider 1975 said that Rasool and Schneider 1971 underestimated the CO2-climate sensitivity, and listed three reasons. The first included the same key word "IR (infrared) opacity" as in Hansen's talk, and I guess that both point to the same thing. The other two are more technical and I have not understood them yet. I quote the first point (p.2063).

"1) The increased CO2 increases IR cooling to space in the stratosphere (which decreases the stratospheric temperature) and increases stratospheric IR opacity. Since Rasool and Schneider maintain constant stratospheric temperature even after CO2 is doubled, their model's stratosphere emits too much infrared radiation to space. This, combined with the constraint of planetary radiation balance at the top of the atmosphere, results in a compensation process by which their model's troposphere does not warm sufficiently. This effect was modeled by Manabe and Wetherald [1967] and not by Rasool and Schneider, and, as explained by the next section [Section 3], accounts for roughly 0.5 K of the 1.6 K difference in Γ2 estimates."
As Eli was saying