Saturday, September 20, 2014

We don't know everything, but we know enough!

In his recent WSJ piece, Steven Koonin makes the following claim:

Even though the human influence on climate was much smaller in the past, the models do not account for the fact that the rate of global sea-level rise 70 years ago was as large as what we observe today—about one foot per century.

What are the facts?

In the period 1870-1924, the rate of sea-level rise was 0.8 mm/yr.

In 1925-1992, the rate was 1.9 mm/yr, and in 1993 -2014 the rate was 3.2 mm/y. So the rate has quadrupled in the last century, from 0.8 mm/yr to 3.2 mm/yr.

The rate data can be found here, from Sato and Hansen. (Data were last updated in May 2014).

Basic climate really is settled. While we don't know everything, we know enough. The rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide is causing problems now,and will cause bigger problems in the future.

Koonin doesn't think we know enough to set good climate policy.

He's wrong: policy should be on the supply side, phase out fossil fuels (petroleum, coal, natural gas) and substitute solar, wind, hydro and nuclear instead.

On the demand side, greater energy efficiency.

We don't know everything, but we know enough.

Sea-level rise was important in the $65B damages inflicted by Hurricane Sandy on the tri-state NY metro area (NY, NJ, CT) in 2012. Koonin is now at NYU, whose whose Langone Medical Center sustained $1.13B in damages, and the patients had to be evacuated.

Before NYU, Koonin was chief scientist at the oil company BP.


Aaron said...

There is another aspect - that of regional sea level affected by prevailing winds and currents. For example, the El Nino cycle affects California sea level by a foot or more.

With climate change comes changes in the Jet Stream, prevailing winds, and ocean currents - these are likely to affect regional sea levels sooner and more dramatically than an average of 3.2 mm/year. (See GG tide gages for 97-98!!)

This makes sea level change a more interesting problem.

Magma said...

Ethon has heard that having steered the APS committee in the direction he intended Koonin has resigned in the Hal Lewis manner. Noisily and nastily.

Reading this passage a little more carefully a second time, I wonder if his WSJ op-ed is a pre-emptive strike at a position statement that is not going the way Koonin wanted.

On the other hand, neither the research backgrounds of the subcommittee members and the particular witnesses selected to speak were not encouraging. It's possible the cards were stacked in advance.

Magma said...

The preceding was posted to the wrong Koonin comment thread. No big deal, I guess.

Fernando Leanme said...

The Koonin comment is one heck of a political blow to the "science is settled lets cut back all CO2 emissions to zero by 2050" song.

My guess is that this thing has got to be so political it really doesn't have much chance if being fixed using the suggested options. I'm voting for geoengineering research until oil prices start a steep climb and the economy goes to hell.

Jeffrey Davis said...

Why even that much, FL? Not too long ago I asked you if you thought responsibility carried any burden. After a long song-and-dance, you said "no". After all, when the economy goes to Hell, if there's no competition, the carbon plutocrats can grind us to powder and fertilize their gardens with our bones. Surely that would be preferable than to be proactive on AGW.

...and Then There's Physics said...

Apart from Koonin being wrong about a number of things, the more fundamental problem with his argument is that you could apply it to anything at any time. We'll never have perfect knowledge, so if we think "we aren't sure" is a valid argument for delaying a decision, then it opens the door for an argument against action by anyone who sees a possible decision as being inconvenient.

As far as I'm concerned, any argument for delaying needs to be stronger than "we're not sure". Ideally, it should be based on showing that the risks are unlikely (or that the risks associated with doing something are greater than the risks associated with doing nothing). I don't think I've ever seen anyone make a credible version of this argument, which suggests to me that it is difficult (impossible?) to make.

J Bowers said...

Fernando, it's not a boardroom, it's the physical universe where we can't slick our way out of decision making and claim plausible deniability for when it comes to the next pay review or promotion time.

Anonymous said...

A little more on that villian, Steve Koonin. From C&E News:

"Steve Koonin, Caltech’s provost for the past nine years, is stepping down from that post February 2 [2004] and in March will begin a leave of absence from his faculty appointment as professor of theoretical physics to become chief scientist for BP, based in London. BP, with annual revenues of roughly $200 billion, is the world’s second largest integrated oil company and the largest U.S. oil and gas producer.

The new post will provide Koonin with the opportunity to do some strategic thinking about one of the most important problems facing society—energy. Among other duties in his new position, he’ll be responsible for scientific and technological input to the company’s long-range strategies in an industry that has important economic, social, political, and environ- mental dimensions. Exposure to business and the private sector is also attractive to him at this point in his career, he says, since he feels he knows academia “pretty well” and has already done a fair bit of
advising to government.

Koonin has spent almost his entire academic career at Caltech: from his freshman year in 1968 (he received his BS in 1972) to the present, he has spent only three years away from the Institute— from 1972 to 1975 when he was earning his PhD at MIT. He came back to Caltech in 1975, was named full professor in 1981, and served as faculty chair from 1989 to 1991."

For five years, he tried turning "beyond petroleum" into more than a slogan. Then he spent five years as Steven Chu's chief scientist at DOE trying to turn "Cleantech" into a reality using stimulus funds.

Hank Roberts said... (RPJr., worth rereading), as referenced in

BBD said...


The Koonin comment is one heck of a political blow to the "science is settled lets cut back all CO2 emissions to zero by 2050" song.

Koonin's error-riddled polemic is one hell of a blow to Koonin's reputation.

You really do sound as though you don't believe in physics, Fernando, which is worrying in an adult.

Anonymous said...

Ground water extraction has accelerated and around 1mm/year SLR equivalent, leaving you closer to the 2 mm/year to hyperventilate about.

Eight inches or so per century of sea level rise is irrelevant to the human condition.

Long term thermal expansion is consistent with long term observed warming, but as with most things global worming, the hoax is not the principle but the exaggerated extent.


Hank Roberts said...

If you take the transcript and find Koonin, you'll see most of his comments are managing the conversation, with repeated statements that he doesn't understand one thing or another. Now he's not dumb -- this has to be speaking as though he were a Congressman, drawing out ever simpler and, sometimes, clearer explanations from the scientists. But there's also a steady push toward rhetoric.

A bit more from the transcript -- my excerpts, you should read the original:


DR. KOONIN: All right. I have got to say, I come away, Bill, and thanks
for being so clear, that this business is even more uncertain than I


DR. HELD: I think you are getting the concept of radiative forcing

DR. KOONIN: Thank you. Please tell me.

DR. HELD: It's a hypothetical quantity how much the balance would
change if you fixed temperature. It's not showing up on this picture.

DR. KOONIN: So, the temperature would be very different in 1700?

DR. HELD: Colder.

DR. CURRY: Colder, yes.

DR. KOONIN: So then, maybe the second question related to that, the
ocean is cold. Isn't the ocean always warming as a result of, I mean,
the long-term average heat flow from the surface of the ocean. Is it
always in that direction? I am trying to understand......

DR. HELD: If it was sustained, the ocean would have a big temperature

DR. KOONIN: And it doesn't?

DR. HELD: It doesn't. We can go back to measurements of the deep ocean
from the Challenger expedition and changes are in the hundredths of a

DR. KOONIN: But I don't understand the mixing in the deep ocean.

DR. HELD: ... these things, again, are implicit in various fingerprinting studies.... Where do you expect low-frequency variability to emerge in the coupled climate system? It's going to emerge at high latitudes because, where you have memory on these multidecadal time scales is in the deep ocean....
... subpolar Atlantic warming over the 50- to 100-year time scale. So, to combine those two things, without any reference to the magnitude of internal variability in the models, it's pretty inconceivable to me . And we haven't see it. I don't think it's a -- it's not a mystery to me that no one has produced a model that gives you something that looks like the warming over the last 50 or 100 years from internal variability. I just don't think you can do it. I haven’t tried to put a number on it. I don't know if I come up with 95 percent or 90 percent or what . I am not holding my breath. So, I think there is a point of confusion here . [next page ]
Does the IPCC actually say that the level, that our confidence has increased from this 90 to 95 percent level? Actually, it doesn't.... They are both in chapter 10 of AR5. In fact, they are both right next to each other in the summary of chapter 10. And so, for people who read chapter 10, these are two different statements. And it's discussed in some detail in chapter 10.

DR. CURRY: The issue is what showed up in the summary for policymakers.

DR. LINDZEN: And the press release.

DR. CURRY: And the press release, yes.

DR. KOONIN: That's not science, but it's important.

DR. HELD: I want to stick to the science....

BBD said...


You are being exceptionally stupid. SLR is not going to be linear and it has barely got underway.

Thomas Lee Elifritz said...

Ground water extraction has accelerated and around 1mm/year SLR equivalent, leaving you closer to the 2 mm/year to hyperventilate about.

Ok Lucifer, a quick search of the scientific literature yields a single study that in one case estimates 0.35 to 0.57 mm/yr sea level rise linked to human water use, with a healthy uncertainty, and another estimate of up to 0.8 mm/yr with great uncertainty, and so you claim we don't have to worry about that contribution to sea level rise ... because it does not contribute to sea level rise? You really thought that one through, didn'tcha. You'll just have to forgive me if I take your statements 'with a grain of salt.'

shub said...

Hello BBD, Here now after running two other blogs into the ground?

Thomas Lee Elifritz said...

Reality is brutal on blogs. It almost seems like only reality denying blogs have a chance anymore.

BBD said...

Hi Shub

Hope the thousand young are all fine. I don't know how you do it! And what you've got coming... university fees and cars and deposits on houses... And the weddings... Whoo.

Rather you than me, babe!


BBD xx

Fernando Leanme said...

You guys keep missing the point...the Koonin comment is a political blow. This has got to be so political there's not going to be a rational solution, so I'm voting for geo engineering research.

However, I'm curious about Held's supposed quote saying there's no temperature gradient in the ocean. Was he misquoted or did he just garble himself?

Jeffrey Davis said...

FL, why "vote" for geo-engineering? It isn't "rational" as you've pointed out. Since you don't want to "vote" for a rational act, why vote for an expensive boondoggle? Why not just confess to an indifference to the problem (and a little preference to kowtow to the powerful?) and just thumb your nose? People these days don't have the courage of their nasty ideas. Do you think Tamerlane pretended to regret?

Hank Roberts said...

--- brief quote follows; see the original ---

Katrin Meissner, an oceanographer and climate modeller at the University of NSW, said physical and biological processes under way will curb the ability of oceans to absorb C02, leaving more of it in the atmosphere.

The warming of the ocean surface reduces its ability to take up more CO2 as does its increased acidity, Professor Meissner said.

Since the warmer surface waters are lighter, there is less exchange with the deeper ocean, which also reduces the absorption ability. In turn, the reduced mixing of waters will mean fewer nutrients will be brought to the surface, altering the ecology of the seas and reducing the biological uptake of carbon, she said.

The prediction is that all three [processes] are going to slow down," Professor Meissner said.

Michael Raupach, formerly of the CSIRO and now at the Australian National University, said land and oceans take up about half of all CO2 emissions and help show the pace of global warming.

Despite some year-to-year variability, particularly on land, a pattern is emerging over decades suggesting the sinks "are not keeping pace with rising CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere", Professor Raupach said.

"This is partly a sign that the efficiencies of the all-important land and ocean CO2 sinks are weakening," he said.

Professor Raupach was lead author of a paper published in Biogeosciences in July which showed that during the 1959-2012 period, about 44 per cent of the total anthropogenic CO2 emissions remained in the atmosphere. During the period, the combined land and ocean CO2 sink rate declined by about one-third.

Hank Roberts said...

I want to shout out for William Calvin's proposal, among those at the MIT Colab and that version was expanded into a book available online here:

This is biogeoengineering done right, by nature -- with human facilitation.

The biggest problem is figuring out a way to make money off of it in the short term. My guess: plankton blooms --> more fish --> more fisheries --> more whales --> uh oh, whaling becomes commercially attractive once again.

Planning ahead for the "Whale Oil Is Not Biodiesel" campaign, just in case.

Fernando Leanme said...

Jeffrey, I wrote I vote for geo engineering research. As you know I believe people tend to have alternate visions of reality, Have you considered I may consider opposition to geo engineering research to be quite irrational? Or maybe I should say there's a tendency to get so dipped in the politics some can't even stand scientific research? I suspect many individuals take a religious dogmatic approach to problem solving. I'm more like the chimp who likes to peek through the peephole.

shub said...

Great Hank, taking the world back the whale oil economy of Dunwall.

Jeffrey Davis said...


You keep almost taking a stand. I'm sorry you're so fearful.

Russell Seitz said...

"What are the facts?"

John, rates are slopes, and whatever the rhetoric of motives may be in making the comparison and chosing feet as th metric,, the slope "today" and the slope circa 1944 are indeed comparable.

I'm more disconcerted by Steve repeating a lot of what I wrote in 1990 without sufficient regard to computational progress since.

At some level we are witnessing an un-owlish post cold war resumption of hostilities between old school hawks
and doves.

EliRabett said...

It is well known on the street that physics, at least institutional physics, is the captive of the DOE nuclear weapons complex. Koonin's pedigree, and indeed that of the rest of the strange committee that was/is drafting the statement are right out of that box.

Russell Seitz said...

Oh no, mister Eli-- does this mean existential threat inflation inflation !

Hank Roberts said...

but seriously, reading that transcript, Dr. Koonin comes across like XKCD's cartoon physicist:

Admittedly his research is, well, rather like that cartoon -- he's not an ecologist or climate scientist.

But -- does anyone know what he was trying to do in that transcript? He sounds as though he didn't even read anything before becoming the leader of the group.

E. Swanson said...

Steven Koonin's error filled denialist commentary in the WSJ is another example of the WSJ's efforts to manipulate the political discussion in the US. The WSJ is a pay-for-view site and most of the commentary is hidden behind that pay wall.

When the WSJ management wants to facilitate the spread of a particular commentary thru links on the numerous conservative web sites, they post the commentary outside the pay wall.

The WSJ should register as a political action committee, IMHO...

Ed Darrell said...

[quote] Even though the human influence on climate was much smaller in the past, the models do not account for the fact that the rate of global sea-level rise 70 years ago was as large as what we observe today—about one foot per century. [end quote]

When to act? When do we know enough?

Consider past applications of the "we don't know enough to do anything" standard, such as:

1. Pasteur's work on smallpox
2. Fleming's work on penicillin
3. The Manhattan Project
4. Columbus's first voyage (no, not the "Earth being round" part)
5. Anything electrical Edison ever made
6. The transistor, or the amplifying tube before it

You can hear these guys on December 8, 1941: "Let's wait. Maybe it wasn't the Japanese. Maybe it's just garbled radio broadcasts from Honolulu. Perhaps the Japanese thought they were doing target practice on Midway."

Fernando Leanme said...

Ed Darrell, your analogues don´t work very well. Let me propose something...why don´t you guys write a two page description of what you think needs to be done? I´d like to see specifics. And please don´t write sci fi about hydrogen fuel cells and 80 % penetration by wind power. Do your engineering, and please go beyond the inbred blogosphere where all you see is good news about potential technologies nobody has the ability to use. And forget the conspiracy theories for 48 hours, ok? Write something solid one can read without raising eyebrows.

Bernard J. said...

Lucifer at 21/9/14 11:04 AM .

Ground water extraction is balanced and probably slightly exceeded by surface impoundment behind dams:

Sea level rise is as science describes, and over the coming centuries our descendants will assuredly be disgusted at our current lack of effort to mitigate against the effects of global warming.

Fernando Leanme said...

The comment by RUssel Seitz made me check the sea level rise figures. Being a very practical engineer I just copied the sea level rise data shown by the EPA, updated it with the Jason data, and picked out the 10 years around 1944.

So, it looks like Russel is right. The sea level rise rate is a bit lower at this time.

This is understandable when we take into account the rather steep increase in surface temperature observed about 70 years ago.

This in turn makes me wonder if the temperature rise 70 years ago may not have been just cyclic. This has implications for the temperature rise observed from 1973 to 1998, doesn´t it?

Fernando Leanme said...

Maybe our descendants will get more upset because the planet became overpopulated and we consumed minerals in general as if the supply would last forever.

By the way, I keep pounding away at the fossil fuel issue and I have to conclude market forces will take us towards RCP4.5. This means "business as usual" is actually a fairly safe outcome. We do have lots of problems, but I don´t see this as the top priority right now. Don´t you think the way Ebola is spreading in Africa is a huge disgrace?

Mal Adapted said...

Fernando Leanme: "Let me propose something...why don´t you guys write a two page description of what you think needs to be done? "

Hell, I can do it in a paragraph:

The U.S. should remove all subsidies for energy production and consumption, of fossil-fuels and alternative sources. It should also impose a federal carbon tax on fossil fuels, based on their GHG emissions per unit of energy. The tax should be collected from producers at the source, mine or wellhead if domestic, port-of-entry if imported. The tax should be paired with a Border Tax Adjustment on imported manufactured goods, based on the GHGs emitted to make them. The revenue thus collected should be divided annually by the number of people who file federal income tax returns that year, and a check for the resulting amount sent to each filer. Leave the rest to the forces of the market.

FL asked for details. The salient details I haven't provided are how high the tax should be per ton of carbon, and whether the maximum tax should be imposed immediately or introduced at a low figure and increased over time. That should be decided by politicians and economists.

I've said nothing about engineering, because this is not an engineering problem!

Anonymous said...

"About a foot per century" Isn't 3.2 mm per year about a foot per century?

Anonymous said...

There is some controversy regarding the sea level rise at mid-century. The IPCC did state "“it is likely that similarly high rates [as during the past two decades] occurred between 1920 and 1950" but Rahmstorf disagrees ( While I've never been convinced by Rahmstorf's semi-empirical model, based on my own reading of the literature on SLR, I agree with him here.


Anonymous said...


"Ground water extraction is balanced and probably slightly exceeded by surface impoundment behind dams"

For the developed world, dam building peaked in the 1970s.

China is building a few (3 gorges), but there are not too many practical river spots left to dam, so as dam building peaks, the impounded waters will soon also contribute to SLR as people use more and more of them.

"Sea level rise is as science describes, and over the coming centuries our descendants will assuredly be disgusted at our current lack of effort to mitigate against the effects of global warming."

Most of the buildings in New York ( and most everywhere ) that were around 100 years ago have been torn down and replaced - because they were old and junky.

Even if six to twelve inches of sea level rise a century from now were a significant threat to buildings of today ( which it is not ), it would make no more sense for future generations to give it a second thought than for you to mourn dilapidated structures of the past.

Thomas Lee Elifritz said...

Even if six to twelve inches of sea level rise a century from now were a significant threat

That is a deeply delusional statement. You are in deep denial of physical planetary reality.

Fernando Leanme said...

Mal adapted, that sounds fine. The engineering solutions to optmize energy production under your proposed tax scheme will arise in due course.

Let me ask you, do you think the carbon tax should be imposed on cement plants as well as methane emitters?

Also, does the tax require renegotiating the WTO agreements?

J Bowers said...

And the heirs to the most important names in US oil give us the quote of the day:

“John D Rockefeller, the founder of Standard Oil, moved America out of whale oil and into petroleum,” Stephen Heintz, president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, said in a statement. “We are quite convinced that if he were alive today, as an astute businessman looking out to the future, he would be moving out of fossil fuels and investing in clean, renewable energy.”

turboblocke said...

Fernando: why did you mention 80% penetration of wind power? Because no one seems to be suggesting such an idea. In any case we know that according to you offshore wind doesn't work, which is completely at odds with the empirical proof.

turboblocke said...

Mal Adapted, please take care that you're not the target of someone JAQing off. I don't think that there was any ambiguity about your tax. It makes sense to start with targeting fossil fuels only in the first phase.

As for the WTO agreements if Fernando has an opinion, then let him come forward with it, rather than make you do all the work and then have him disagree with your view of reality.

BBD said...


And forget the conspiracy theories for 48 hours, ok? Write something solid one can read without raising eyebrows.

The creation and subsequent covert funding of the organised denial machine by the fossil fuel industry is not a conspiracy theory. It is a matter of well-documented fact.

And you are denying it. What does this make you?

You'll be denying basic physics next.

Fernando Leanme said...

That "well documented fact" is mostly a conspiracy theory. This is the 21st century, and John Rockefeller is dead.

What you face is a reaction to the add ons you put on the science. The science, as Dr K. has expressed, isn´t settled. Yet we a pell mell poorly thought rush into nonsense solutions, many of which are tainted by a (let´s be soft on this) a socialistoid mindset.

Thomas Lee Elifritz said...

The fact that Fernando is an innumerate crackpot, crank and internet troll is pretty settled here, and any responses to him are to deflect his misinformation and for purely entertainment purposes.

Dunning Kruger, Fernando!

Fernando Leanme said...

Turbo blocks, I need to research the WTO trade treaties to see how the issue needs to be approached.

In general I'm fine with a greenhouse gas impact tax as long as it targets all emissions, and does so in a fair way. This means the trade treaties do need to be studied and modified.

I also wonder how can something like emissions from rice growers be taxed? Rice and cattle have very poor emissions records. I think cattle can be taxed uniformly. But rice emissions change with the variety and growing conditions.

BBD said...


That "well documented fact" is mostly a conspiracy theory.

You are either lying on behalf of the fossil fuel industry or in denial. Which is it?

Fernando Leanme said...

Bbd, none of the above. I went over some of the papers (or should I say articles?) written to "prove" your conspiracy theories. Nothing I read "proved" what the authors said they did.

This can happen when we deal with social sciences and history. As you know I think quite a few people live inside the Matrix. Alas, they are so hard to reach...

Today I read about a EU court decision saying sanctions on Iran's Central Bank were illegal. It seems the court found the "proof" used to impose the sanctions lacked legal merits. The case is important, it will be used by the Russian Federation to file a legal case against the EU in its own court. The Russians will claim the EU sanctions violate its own laws because the EU can't offer proof the sanctions are based on reality. See what I mean? Quite often what we think is...isn't.

BBD said...


Bbd, none of the above. I went over some of the papers (or should I say articles?) written to "prove" your conspiracy theories. Nothing I read "proved" what the authors said they did.

You are either a shill or in denial, Ferndando. Which is it? I'm curious.

Steve Bloom said...

Why not both? He's made a personal religion out of that duality.

Anonymous said...

BBD, Steve: to be fair to Fernando, I think he's sincere. Wrong in ever so many ways, but sincere. (And if he wasn't, why would he admit it? Same goes for his denial, actually.) I honestly doubt he's being paid for his diversions, and it reflects rather poorly on you to suggest otherwise without any better evidence (especially as it fuels his own silly countercharge of conspiracy theory).

And you can take my anonymous opinion on that for all that it's worth (somewhere between -0.0001 and 0.0001, at last count).

J Bowers said...

"That "well documented fact" is mostly a conspiracy theory. "

So documented facts are now conspiracy theories.

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

Chris G said...

> Apart from Koonin being wrong about a number of things, the more fundamental problem with his argument is that you could apply it to anything at any time. We'll never have perfect knowledge, so if we think "we aren't sure" is a valid argument for delaying a decision, then it opens the door for an argument against action by anyone who sees a possible decision as being inconvenient.

"A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week."
-Gen. George S. Patton

EliRabett said...

Yep. Apologies

BBD said...

Dear Anon.

I honestly doubt he's being paid for his diversions, and it reflects rather poorly on you to suggest otherwise without any better evidence (especially as it fuels his own silly countercharge of conspiracy theory).

I have no doubt that Fernando is sincere and unpaid.

I'm trying to get him to understand that he is in denial.

The above exercise was a last-ditch attempt to make him *think* about his behaviour with as much objectivity as he can muster at this point.

If you have followed earlier exchanges with FL, you will know that he denies being in denial.

turboblocke said...

Fernando, targeting all sources of GHG at once is a tactic straight out of the deniers' handbook. It will never happen in the real world. As Mal Adapted suggested start with fossil fuels and take it from there, picking off the sources one at a time.

BTW targeting rice and thereby asking billions of people to give up their staple food is a pretty good tactic for delay.

willard said...

> The science, as Dr K. has expressed, isn´t settled.

Actually, Fernando, Dr. said that it was. What he said was not settled belongs to policy.

Since science alone never settles policies, his conclusion is rather trivial.

Beware that sometimes it's the editors that put titles on op-eds.

PS: Regarding your calculus you sent by tweet the other day, I'm afraid it's not reproducible. Expect a black helicopter full of auditors on your doorstep next week.

Mal Adapted said...

Diving into the diabolical details of carbon pricing policy, I have no problem responding to FL's questions:

Q: Do I think cement and methane emitters should be taxed pro-rata?

A: Yes, although their relative contributions to total GHG emissions is minor compared to fossil fuels; see data from Again, it's up to the politicians and economists to decide.

Q: Does a tax require renegotiating WTO agreements?

A: Maybe, maybe not. I've seen informed opinions that WTO already allows this kind of BTA, but it would at least need to be adjudicated, if not renegotiated. That's left to diplomats and lawyers. See

Bunnies, I suspect even Fernando understands that all the nattering about engineering obstacles to solving ACC is irrelevant, because the real obstacles are political. The world can avoid climate chaos, but only if money moves around and the balance of power shifts. If anyone starves or freezes to death in the dark as a result of mitigation measures, it will be for the same reason as always -- the conflict between haves and have-nots.

Fernando, what do you propose that doesn't involve trivial technical fixes? Tell us: What Is to Be Done?

I-beam said...

How long before Koonin sets up a consultancy with that other recent refugee from academe, J Curry?
Their Mission Statement- 'Bespoke FUD for hire'?

(but nothing so crass as outright denialism, of course)

Fernando Leanme said...

Turboblocke, from a political standpoint it may be easier to target cattle. The idea seems logical because the environmental community is full of vegetarians. We can also get support from the pork and chicken growers´associations.

By the way, somebody wrote I´m "in denial". That´s not really it. The problem seems to be lack of faith. I don´t deny anything. I am merely unable to believe a lot of the crap I see written by some folk.

I´m like one of those agnostics who doesn´t believe in the Trinity, or that Moses led a bunch of Hebrews out of Egypt, or that Mohammed was really inspired by a supernatural being.

Let me challenge you, what exactly do I deny?

BBD said...

Let me challenge you, what exactly do I deny?

Well, for example, the extensively documented creation and covert funding of the climate denial machine by vested interest.

Most commenters here are aware of the evidence demonstrating that this is a matter of fact. When they see you denying well established matters of fact they write you off as a denier.

When you persist, they write you off as a denier troll.

This is where you are now and you have only yourself to blame for it.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Uh, OK, so let me get this straight. You equate belief that anthropogenic warming poses significant risks to belief that a fricking burning bush spoke to an illiterate Bronze Age shepherd? Dude, have you read nothing of the potential consequences of changing the climate for agriculture, severe weather, desertification, disease...

It is those scientific papers that document these very risks that you deny, Fernando, along with all of the overwhelming majority of papers that show feedback to be positive. Science isn't about belief, Fernando. It's about evidence.

John said...

Russell, you say that the rate of sea-level rise in 1944 and today (2014) are "comparable".

Let's see now...
1944 1.9 mm/yr
2014 3.2 mm/yr
This is an increase of 68%.

Anyone looking at the figure can see the falsity of Koonin's claim that the rate of sea-level rise today is the same as it was 70 years ago.

Sea level rise is accelerating. And that's the truth.

Mal Adapted said...

Fernando: "Let me challenge you, what exactly do I deny?"

BBD and a_ray have the right of it, Fernando. You explicity deny the credibility of all evidence for the political influence of fossil-fuel money; and you appear to deny that Science has a stronger claim to accurate description of reality, i.e. the Universe as it exists independent of human hopes and wishes, than religion does.

I'll make a final effort to be charitable. You have two handicaps to understanding: you have only an engineer's hammer, so every problem looks like an engineering nail to you; and you don't live in the U.S., so U.S. politics is mostly a black box for you. Since you support carbon taxes, however, you might wonder why 138 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, and 25 U.S. Senators, have signed a No-climate-tax pledge. Because it's not illegal, thus not a secret, the underpinnings of the "non-profit" organization sponsoring the pledge will be easy for you to discover.

Hank Roberts said...

Exactly as in absolutley exactly? even more than precisely?
Absolute is tough, kid. I'll do my best ...
Absolute truth is ONLY a 5 to 4 decision in the Supreme Court ...

Anonymous said...

Sea level rise is accelerating. And that's the truth.

People do tend to adhere to bits of evidence which corroborate their beliefs and ignore the exceptions.

There is at least some evidence that making assumptions about long term sea level trends on the basis of tide gauges is
not reliable .


Thomas Lee Elifritz said...

Spongebob seems to have missed a couple of recent developments.

Launch vehicles and satellites! Wow, what a concept. Two concepts actually. And also the fact that sea level rise is not always uniform. That's totally weird.

Maybe Spongebob should brush up a little on the concept of tides too.

tonyon said...

never stop pouring million Tm/year to the foul air, they are almost suffocating in cities...and blame to the Anticyclone

ncdave4life said...

[part 1 of 2 (split to evade the 4096-character comment limit)]

Actually, Koonin is exactly right. He wrote that there's been no increase in the rate of sea-level rise in seventy years, and that is true. Here's a representative tide-gauge graph, covering about the same time period as your graph, which illustrates the lack of increase in rate of sea-level rise:

Take a closer look at that graph of yours, John.

First of all, notice that the graph spans about 145 years, not seventy years. So, since you're critiquing Koonin, you need to start by discarding the left half of the graph. (I could also critique Church & White's ~1 mm/yr 1925 step-acceleration, but that's irrelevant to discussion of Koonin's remarks, since 1925 was 90 years ago.)

Remember the Big Question! The Big Question is: does anthropogenic CO2 increase the rate of sea-level rise (and by how much)?

If you're trying to answer that question, then why confuse the issue by citing an acceleration in sea-level rise that occurred when anthropogenic CO2 emissions were very low? Acceleration in rate of sea level rise in the late 19th century and early 20th century, before mankind was much affecting atmospheric CO2 levels, obviously is not evidence that anthropogenic CO2 causes increasing rates of sea-level rise. If anything, it suggests that changes in rate of sea-level rise are not caused by mankind's CO2 emissions.

Second, notice that your graph mixes apples and oranges. The U. Colorado graph (in red/green) is satellite altimetry data. The Church & White graph (in blue/black) is adjusted tide gauge data, apparently from Church & White 2006. The two types of "sea-level" data are measured in entirely different places, with completely different methods. They are not directly comparable. By conflating satellite data with tide gauge data, you've created the illusion of acceleration where none exists.

Most satellites have measured higher rates of sea level rise than are most tide gauges, but we only have about 20 years of satellite measurements. So if you splice satellite data onto a graph of tide gauge data you create the appearance of acceleration.

You could get the same result by switching tide gauge sets, and it would be just as invalid. Here in NC, you could graph Wilmington's LMSL to 1990, and then switch to an average of Wilmington and Duck, and your graph would appear to show that sea level rise had accelerated, when it hadn't.

In fact, neither tide gauge data nor satellite data alone show any sign of sustained acceleration in rate of sea level rise in response to anthropogenic CO2. In fact, tide gauges records show no sustained acceleration in rate of sea level rise since about 1925 or 1930.

(Satellite altimetry data shows no acceleration, either, but it is of such dubious quality that you should hesitate to draw any conclusions from it.)

The significance of the fact that there's been no acceleration in sea-level rise in at least 85 years is that the last 85 years includes ~80% of the total anthropogenic increase in atmospheric CO2. Driving up atmospheric CO2 from ~300 ppmv to ~400 ppm has not resulted in any sustained acceleration in sea level rise.

[cont'd in part 2]

ncdave4life said...

[part 2 of 2 (split to evade the 4096-character comment limit)]

In fact, even Church & White 2006 found no evidence that anthropogenic CO2 emissions have caused an increase in the rate of sea-level rise. Church & White fit a quadratic to averaged and adjusted tide gauge data, and detected a small acceleration in rate of sea level rise for the 20th century as a whole (though their error bars went down to zero). But I reanalyzed their data, and found that all of that acceleration occurred in the first quarter of the 20th century (and the late 19th century). After 1925, their data showed a small deceleration in rate of sea level rise, rather than acceleration.

I published that result here: doi:10.1007/s11069-012-0159-8

Since nearly all of the anthropogenic contribution to CO2 levels occurred after 1925, that means Church & White detected no acceleration in rate of sea level rise in response to anthropogenic CO2.

In 2009, Church and White released a new data set, based on a different set of tide gauges. I applied their 2006 analysis method to the new data. I found that it not only showed deceleration in sea level rise after 1925, all of the acceleration in sea level rise for the full 20th century was also gone. I shared my results with Drs. Church & White, and on June 18, 2010, Dr. Church replied, confirming my analysis: “For the 1901 to 2007 period, again we agree with your result and get a non-significant and small deceleration.”

In 2011, Church and White released a third data set. This one shows a very slight acceleration in sea level rise after 1925, though much smaller in magnitude than the deceleration seen in their other data sets. The post-1925 acceleration in this data set, if it continued to 2080, would add just 0.8 inches of sea level rise, compared to a linear projection.

Since the rate of sea level rise has not increased significantly in response to the last 3/4 century of CO2 emissions, there is no reason to expect that it will do so in response to the next 3/4 century of CO2 emissions. The best prediction for sea level in the future is simply a linear projection of the history of sea level at the same location in the past. CO2 emissions are irrelevant.