Saturday, March 31, 2007

A Saturday Night Eurovision Complaints Contest
This started from Atrios, but Eli now brings you a Eurovision Complaints Contest worth staying up Saturday night for. First, from the far north the

Helsinki Complaints Choir

Of course, what would a Complaints Choir contest be like without a bunch of Germans meckering merrily away

Hamburg Complaints Choir

and the Brits bitch as good as the best

The Birmingham Complaints Choir

but NO ONE complains like the Russians

The St. Petersburg Compliants Choir

Friday, March 30, 2007

Fergus Brown asks a sensible question:

in the comments about Worry,

I want to know what we are meant to understand by the term 'collapse'. It conjurs images of a Larsen-type crack and float-off, but I don't think this is what is expected of the WAIS, for example. Does the term refer to a point at which sudden and massive changes occur almost immediately, or to a system-state which represents a tipping-point, beyond which certain (relatively slow) processes are irrevocable?
IOW, what does a 'collapse' of the ice sheets mean?
UPDATE: Fergus has a blog

Steve Bloom, ankh and the mice do a fine job, and Eli adds a piece, but the Rabett would just like to add something from Hansen's A Slippery Slope: How Much Global Warming Constitutes “Dangerous Anthropogenic Interference”?
Time constants: the slippery slope. Three time constants play critical roles in creating a slippery slope for human society: T1, the time required for climate, specifically ocean surface temperature, to respond to a forced change of planetary energy balance; T2, the time it would take human society to change its energy systems enough to reverse the growth of greenhouse gases; T3, the time required for ice sheets to respond substantially to a large relentless positive planetary energy imbalance. I define “substantially” to mean a total sea level rise of at least two meters, because that would be sufficient to flood large portions of Bangladesh, the Nile Delta, Florida, and many island nations, causing forced migration of tens to hundreds of millions of people. That criterion requires an ice melt contribution from Greenland and Antarctica of at least 1.5 meters, given the approximate half meter contribution expected this century from ocean thermal expansion and alpine glaciers.

T1, the climate response time, is 50-100 years, as a result of the large thermal inertia of the ocean. T2, the energy infrastructure time constant, also is perhaps 50-100 years. Although new technologies that reduce or eliminate greenhouse gases might be developed rapidly, these need to replace a huge fossil fuel infrastructure, and this technologic task is preceded by the time required to achieve world-wide agreement on the need for replacement.

T3, the ice sheet response time, is the time constant of issue. I argue that T3 is of the order of centuries, not millennia, as commonly assumed. Growth of ice sheets requires millennia, as growth is a dry process limited by the snowfall rate. Ice sheet disintegration, on the other hand, is a wet process that can proceed more rapidly, as evidenced by the saw-toothed shape of glacial-interglacial temperature and sea level records. For example, I referred above to the 20-meter sea level rise that occurred in about 400 years during deglaciation 14,000 years ago.
The take home is that ice lost in centuries stays lost for millenia or more. Once the ice starts to go, it is gone. Hansen believes that T3 ~ T1 + T2 and is of the order of 1-3 centuries for reasons set forth in the Arxiv manuscript, the reference given above and elsewhere.
The likelihood that T3 is comparable to T1 + T2 has a staggering practical implication. T3 >> T1 + T2 would permit a relatively complacent “wait and see” attitude toward ice sheet health. If, in the happy situation T3 >> T1 + T2, we should confirm that human forcings were large enough to eventually alter the ice sheets, we would have plenty of time to reverse human forcings before the ice sheets responded.

Unfortunately, T3 ~ T1 + T2 implies that once ice sheet changes pass a critical point, it will be impossible to avoid substantial ice sheet disintegration. The reason for this is evident in the definition of the time constants. The comparability of these time constants, together with the planetary energy imbalance, make the ice sheets a ticking time bomb.
Is this correct? Wanna bet the planet friend? (OK, but we do need to concentrate on this issue until we better understand it, not to try and hand wave it away).

Ask not for whom the Tol shills

Eli went over to visit Ethon at the other place, only to find the good Prof. Dr. Something or Other, Hamburg, Pittsburgh and Other Vacation Spots (ok, Dublin ain't bad, but he gotta lay off the Guiness), Richard Tol holding forth on the Hansen Arxiv piece:

Thanks, Roger, one would almost agree with Bush that Hansen should shut up.
Hansen, like Rahmstorff, is not a glaciologist but pretends to understand ice better than true experts -- and resorts to half-baked science sociology to prove his point.
My glaciologist friends tell me that they do not really understand and really cannot model the fast ice dynamics. They know their predictions are wrong, but they cannot even say whether it is an upward or downward bias.
Posted by: Richard Tol at March 30, 2007 03:01 PM
This is amusing on several levels. If they are talking about fast ice dynamics Tol's glaciologist friends think things are PRETTY DIRE. Of course things could be somewhat dire, really dire or end of the world as we know it dire, which appear to be the choices on offer here. OTOH the Roger and Richard show would be twice as amusing if Eli had not read and posted the recommendation that Hansen makes at the end of his manuscript and in his public presentations on the matter.
In this circumstance it seems vital that we provide the best information we can about the threat to the great ice sheets posed by human-made climate change. This information, and necessary caveats, should be provided publicly, and in plain language. The best suggestion I can think of is for the National Academy of Sciences to carry out a study, in the tradition of the Charney and Cicerone reports on global warming. I would be glad to hear alternative suggestions.
Richard is being perfectly numbty. (Ear tip to James Annan). One could now engage in a bloggers ethics panel, but the Rabett prefers rhyme

UPDATE: It should have been numPty. However, adopting the position that Eli never makes a mistake, allow me to point out that numBty combines dumb as a sack full of hammers with the lack of sensitivity associated with a true numbnut (3). Never question a partially dyslexic artist

At the risk of losing the thread, allow me to use the Urban Dictionary's definitions of dyslexia as an example of differences in style between here and the other place:

Other place: A learning disability or processing disorder which causes a person to not be able to recognize words that are misspelled as easily as a person who does not have it. Also people with dyslexia commonly have difficulty reading changing words around and adding them in where they aren’t. People with dyslexia are by no means stupid, in fact sometimes they are much smarter or more creative since a different part of their brain is more developed than the part that deals with language. People recently have started using dyslexia as an insult or otherwise just to justify things they've done backwards or words they’ve misspelled, but it is an actual disorder that many people have. See my book, Spelling and Science Policy Studies and the many articles we have published on the subject

Rabett Run: If you can spell it, you're not
Doctor: Please spell Dyslexic
Man: Huh?
Doctor: That'll be a yes then...
Numbty and Dumbty said it was nothing at all
Numbty and Dumbty told us to stall
All Tol's students and Roger Pielke's Ken
Couldn't put the ice caps together again
Just another clown protecting his franchise at our cost.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Worry....(and why you should RTFR)

Ethon met the plane this morning. The guy was rather excited, it appears that snack in trying to be snarky pointed to an interesting post in the Arxiv. For those who don't know, Arxiv is an e-preprint server where manuscripts can be made available on a rather forgiving basis. You can find almost everything there for many fields of physics, especially high energy and theory, but increasingly condensed matter (aka solid state), chemistry and other folk are using it. It is both a place holder for new results while the referees take their GD time (Happy Bunny on such referees You know who you are, REPENT), and a place for the scientific equivalent of an op ed.

James Hansen provides the technical version of public presentations he has been making about ice sheet collapse. The abstract clearly labels this a polemic

I suggest that a ‘scientific reticence’ is inhibiting communication of a threat of potentially large sea level rise. Delay is dangerous because of system inertias that could create a situation with future sea level changes out of our control. I argue for calling together a panel of scientific leaders to hear evidence and issue a prompt plain-written report on current understanding of the sea level change issue.
Hansen argues that those who study glaciers are aware of the dangers of ice shelf collapse and the increasing evidence for it, but because they are not absolutely sure of this are reticent to say much about it. He considers this very dangerous, because of the threat from such a collapse. Going into issues of motivation is always a murky sea, and, of course, it is the only thing that the Boulder pack bays after.
NASA's Jim Hansen has discovered STS (science and technology studies, i.e., social scientists who study science), and he is using it to justify why the IPCC is wrong and he, and he alone, is correct on predictions of future sea level rise and as well on calls for certain political actions, like campaign finance reform.
Someone has evidently not RTFR. Hansen also marshalls evidence about increasing melting
The area with summer melt on Greenland increased from ~450,000 km2 when satellite observations began in 1979 to more than 600,000 km2 in 2002 (Steffen et al 2004). Linear fit to data for 1992-2005 yields an increase of melt area of +40,000 km2 per year (Tedesco 2007), but this rate may be exaggerated by the effect of stratospheric aerosols from the 1991 volcanic eruption of Mount Pinatubo, which reduced summer melt in 1992. Summer melt on West Antarctica has received less attention than on Greenland, but it is more important. Satellite QuickSCAT radiometer observations reveal increasing areas of summer melt on West Antarctica and an increasing melt season length during the period 1999- 2005 (Nghiem et al 2007).
The most compelling data for the net change of ice sheets is provided by the gravity satellite mission GRACE, which shows that both Greenland (Chen et al 2006) and Antarctica (Velicogna et al 2006) are losing mass at substantial rates. The most recent analyses of the satellite data (S. Klosco et al priv. comm.) confirm that Greenland and Antarctica are each losing mass at a rate of about 150 cubic kilometers per year, with the Antarctic mass loss primarily in West Antarctica. These rates of mass loss are at least a doubling of rates of several years earlier, and only a decade earlier these ice sheets were much closer to mass balance (Casenave 2006).
and much more. But, of course, why engage with evidence. It is instructive to see how science policy studies deals with this by Hansen
‘Scientific reticence’ leapt to mind as I was being questioned, and boxed-in, by a lawyer for the plaintiff in Automobile Manufacturers versus California Air Resources Board (Auto Manufacturers 2006). I conceded that I was not a glaciologist. The lawyer then, with aplomb, requested that I identify glaciologists who agreed publicly with my assertion that sea level was likely to rise more than one meter this century if greenhouse gas emissions followed an IPCC business-as-usual (BAU) scenario: “Name one!”

I could not, instantly. I was dismayed, because, in conversation and e-mail exchange with relevant scientists I sensed a deep concern about likely consequences of BAU global warming for ice sheet stability. What would be the legal standing of such a lame response as ‘scientific reticence’? Why would scientists be reticent to express concerns about something so important?
Gets translated into Bouldarese:
What evidence does Dr. Hansen provide to indicate that his views on sea level rise are correct and those presented by the IPCC, which he openly disagrees with, are wrong? Well, for one he explains that no glaciologist agrees with his views (as they are apparently reticent), suggesting that in fact his views must be correct
which is kind of like being savaged by a dead sheep, of course you have to RTFR to enjoy your mutton. Hansen's manuscript is an introduction to the growing discussion between glaciologists and other climate scientists about ice system dynamics
However, if these IPCC numbers are taken as predictions of actual sea level rise, as they have been by the public, they imply that the ice sheets can miraculously survive a BAU climate forcing assault for a period of the order of a millennium or longer. This is not entirely a figment of the IPCC decision to provide specific numbers for only a portion of the problem, while demurring from any quantitative statement about the most important (dynamical) portion of the problem. Undoubtedly there are glaciologists who anticipate such long response times, because their existing ice sheet models have been designed to match paleoclimate changes, which occur on millennial time scales.

However, Hansen et al (2007) show that the typical ~6ky time scale for paleoclimate ice sheet disintegration reflects the half-width of the shortest of the weak orbital forcings that drive the climate change, not an inherent time scale of ice sheets for disintegration. Indeed, the paleoclimate record contains numerous examples of ice sheets yielding sea level rise of several meters per century, with forcings smaller than that of the BAU scenario. The problem with the paleoclimate ice sheet models is that they do not generally contain the physics of ice streams, effects of surface melt descending through crevasses and lubricating basal flow, or realistic interactions with the ocean.

Rahmstorf (2007) has noted that if one uses observed sea level rise of the past century to calibrate a linear projection of future sea level, BAU warming will lead to sea level rise of the order of one meter in the present century. This is a useful observation, as it indicates that sea level change would be substantial
with a technical bottom line of
The nonlinearity of the ice sheet problem makes it impossible to accurately predict sea level change on a specific date. However, as a physicist, I find it almost inconceivable that BAU climate change would not yield a sea level change measured in meters on the century time scale. The threat of large sea level change is a principal element in our argument (Hansen et al 2006a,b, 2007) that the global community must aim to keep additional global warming less than 1°C above 2000 temperature. In turn, this implies a CO2 limit of about 450 ppm, or less. Such scenarios are dramatically different than BAU, requiring almost immediate changes to get on a fundamentally different energy and greenhouse gas emissions path.
and a science policy recommendation
In this circumstance it seems vital that we provide the best information we can about the threat to the great ice sheets posed by human-made climate change. This information, and necessary caveats, should be provided publicly, and in plain language. The best suggestion I can think of is for the National Academy of Sciences to carry out a study, in the tradition of the Charney and Cicerone reports on global warming. I would be glad to hear alternative suggestions.
Which, of course, is wildly extreme.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Check list

Eli is on the road, stressed out and has a crack of dawner tomorrow morning, followed by a four hour drive and more stress. Don't expect much sense. What brought this post about was hitting the forehead about 10 minutes after starting for the airport and saying


Of course, that was where the presentation was. When Eli was a young bunny, times were simpler and we giggled behind the hutch as we snuck a cigarette about the guy's check list. Something like

Spectacles, testicles, wallet, watch, keys.

Today, at a minimum you have to add thumb drive and cell phone. What else?? (and please don't mention the log-log sliderule....)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

What Desmogblog never told you

Canadians for global warming (the moose is played by Randy Reindeer)

All you ever needed to know about global warming

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Who dressed Lombog?

Bjorn Lomborg showed up for his testimony before the House wearing a black T-shirt. This must have made a wonderful impression. Here is the link to the testimony

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Of mice and prey

There has been some discussion about why not to mess with the anonymice hereabouts.

Even amongst themselves there is disagreement

While the anonymice seem to agree on many things, when it comes to John Fleck, just let it be noted that we don't all squeak with one tongue on that one.

The War on Gore

The latest skirmish in the long running Battle of the Inconvenient Truth (Manansas 1-5) is a provocation by William Broad in the New York Times. Bob Somerby pretty much nails the political part of this new front in the war on Gore, (see also, Pt. 3, Pt. 2, Pt. 1), something he has been writing about since, well 1999, and in particular the New York Time's investment therein. In many ways similar to what Bush has got himself and us into in Iraq, the former bearing a large part of the blame for the latter. For the science, we can send you to Real Climate, for the meta, well Sylvia Tognetti in Post Normal Times. For the snark, there is always Rabett Run.

Somerby is a rather close reader and writer of texts, sometimes too close for Eli's taste, however, he has a pithy and correct way of dealing with the trollish formulation of Al's take on sea level rise.

Let’s make this simple: In his “20 feet” estimate, Gore was talking about what will happen if the Greenland and Antarctic ice shelves break loose. In its “23 inch” estimate, the IPCC is discussing what will occur if that doesn’t happen.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Dear John....

Some of you might remember the great pink helicopter dust up

(Förlåt Magnus, just could not resist posting the Karioke version, my bad)

between Eli and John Fleck, where John kept asking Eli to back up his statement

“[W]hether he realizes it or not Roger is functioning as an enabler for a very sick policy.” No doubt the omission in your post was inadvertent, but you still haven’t explained the evidence in support of the assertion.
So, having some time on his paws, Eli Googled,
Pielke site:
which gets you a bunch of Inhofisms from the US Senate environmental and Public Works Committee.

Here is a nice little list of climate blogs favored by one denialist.
Fred Singer at SEPP,
Roger Pielke Sr. at Climate Science,
The Idso brothers at CO2 Science,
Hans Erren at Global warming Comments,
Dennis Chamberland at Quantum Limit,
The folks at the New Zealand Coalition,
Patrick Michaels and crew at World Climate Report,
Trevor Butterworth at STATS,
Sandy Szwarc at Junkfood Science,
John Brignell at Number Watch,
Philip Stott at Enviro-spin Watch,
Philip Stott again at A Parliament of Things,
Steve McIntyre at Climate Audit,
Roger Pielke Jr. at Prometheus,
Lubos Motl at The Reference Frame,
Warwick Hughes at Warwick Hughes,
Benny Pieser at Liverpool,
and the Rabett could make the rubble bounce, on the other hand, why bother. Eli would point out that his claim was NOT that RPJ was a denialist, after all if we look at his responses to the four questions (Wherefore is this climate change different from all other climate changes) and only that, he is not. The claim was that his positions were regualarly USED by denialists and that he (RPJ) had to become more concious of that. Actually, it was more that he was charmingly oblivious to the problem.

Of course, one should not visit the sins of the father on the son. Interesting social network tho.

What, behind the rabett? No IT IS THE RABETT

Monday, March 19, 2007

Once more dear Prof. Keller

(cont., cont., cont., cont.,.cont., and oh yes ..

Dear Prof. Keller, you have no doubt read our previous letters, but we think this missive will present the clearest reasons why the paper by Essex, McKitrick and Andresen that appeared in the February issue of the Journal of Non-Equilibrium Thermodynamics entitled "Does a Global Temperature Exist?" should be withdrawn before it causes you more embarrassment
(but thanks for the fish).

Again we start from the definition of r-averages given in the paper

r-mean Average = [1/N (x1^r + x2^r+ ....... +xN^r)]^(1/r) for all r
various values of r. Using their own data set, it will now be shown how a failure to consider the nature of their own data renders their conclusions in Part 4 of the paper moot (ROTFLMAO quality). Essex et al., calculate monthly means across 12 stations and fit a linear trend to the to this as a function of time. Groups that compile global temperature anomaly data first find an average value across a region for some climatologically relevant period, generally 30 years) Monthly temperatures anomalies are calculated as the difference between the monthly temperature and the average temperature for the base period. You can find details of procedure in Ref 1 and 2 of the Essex, et al. paper. Let us examine why this is done
The blue line is the Essex, et al. raw temperature monthly average. The purple line shows the anomalies. If you calculate anomalies you can directly compare trends at places that are at different latitudes. The Essex, et al. data is dominated by the the eliptical nature of the earth's orbit assuming their sample balanced stations at northern and southern latitude. If not it would also result from some combination of the two factors. The GISS and Hadley Center global temperature anomalies deal with this by taken weighted averages of tempertures from individual stations on a grid overlayed on the earth, the weightings are taken from distance to the grid point. This is another factor that EMA appear not to have appreciated.

This should not be a surprise (although it might have been to Essex and Andresen, we suspect that McKitrick did not think it mattered). The ratio of standard deviations (blue/purple) =3.1/0.6. The ratio of slopes is (1.62 + 1.48 x 10^-2 C/Year) : (1.58 + 0.28 x 10^-2 C/Year). At least for this set of linear averages, the difference in the slope is well within the error bounds, but for a larger data set this may not be so. The error in the slope is about a factor of five smaller.

Now let us examine what happens if one sets r=3

Joel Shore informs me that Essex, et al. used Kelvin for these calculations, which would make a small difference in the above chart for the temperature data, but none for the anomalies which are differences of temperatures and independent of the zero of the temperature scale.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The bunny still has pen in paw (cont., cont., cont., cont.,.cont....)

Professor Keller, thank you for your patience. (this is becoming a bit of an obsession, but Ms. Rabett is out of town and the coneys want to play) Today, we would like to explore Essex, et al.'s claim of Contradictory Trends in Global Temperature Averages.

Recall that the authors have claimed that there is no physical basis for preferring one type of average above another, and has defined a series of averages, although this is clearly not as discussed earlier. To demonstrate their claim, they selected data from twelve stations from the GISSTEMP archive.

Phoenix, Arizona; Caragena, Columbia; Dublin, Ireland; Chiang Mai, Thialand; Jan Smuts, South Africa; Honolulu, Hawaii; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Egedesminde, Greenland; Salehard, Russia; Ceduna, Australia; Halley Antarctica; Souda, India
We have written you previously about the absence of a Souda, India climatology station in the GISS archive. For the purposes of this post, we will omit that station. As you will see this has no effect. Let us return to the definition that is given for the r averages. The s averages will be the same, only worse)
r-mean Average = [1/N (x1^r + x2^r+ ....... +xN^r)]^(1/r) for all r
Although in principle r could be non-integer, we will assume r integer. If someone has a reason why we should consider r non-integer, he or she should be prepared to deal with roots of negative numbers. Essex, et al., computed monthly means across the stations in Celsius, and a linear trend for each of the monthly averages was fit by ordinary least squares. Trends were displayed for r ranging from -125 to +125 (see Figure 2 in their publication)

As academics, we have all had the experience of students blindly copying numbers from some instrument without questioning whether the apparatus was functioning, and handing in a pretty graph whose information content was nil. Such is Figure 2. While the definitions are clear, Essex, et al., have not considered the physical implications of averages for various values of r, especially in Celsius. This is rather curious in a paper which presumes to establish that there is no physical basis for global temperature anomalies (or even local ones). Even cursory examination shows that
  • For even values of r, negative and positive values of temperature contribute the same, positive amount to the average. If one used even r to average a set of negative temperatures, the average would be positive. This is unphysical, and not an acceptable way of averaging Celsius temperatures.
  • For values of r above 1, r-averaging for both positive and negative values of r overweights the measurement with largest absolute value. This is not a property one wishes in an statistic that represents the entire set of measurements.
  • For negative values of r, r-averaging selects the measurement with the smallest absolute value.
The figure below shows the average monthly value for January 1970 as a function of r. The set of measurements is 11.2, 27.4, 5.1, 21.5, 19.8, 23.4, -15.2, -17.8, -29.4, 20.2, -5.6 (Phoenix to balmy Halley)
One can use Kelvin (add 273.16 to all the measurements) in which case there is no possibility of a negative reading, and convergence to the absolute maximum and minimum values is slower as would be expected if one simply expanded the temperatures in Taylor series as T(K)=273.16 + T(C).

At this point the question occurs, did Essex, et al. use Kelvin or Celsius. While have not completed the calculation (the computer mice went off for a St. Patrick's day boozer), the shape of their trend line is indicative......


Tomorrow we will complete the calculation and explore further physical reasons why Essex, et al.'s treatment of their data set leads to unphysical conclusions.

Auditing the odd

Universitaets Prof. i.R. Dr. Jürgen U. Keller (another one gone emeritus)
Universität Siegen
Institut für Fluid- und Thermodynamik
Paul-Bonatz-Str. 9-11
57072 Siegen (Spent a year there one night)

Dear Prof. Dr. ret. nat. Keller,

In our auditing of Essex, McKitrick and Andresens provocation, Rabett Labs has attempted to locate a climatological station in Souda India which is one of those listed as being used for a reconstruction. However to our distress there is no station in Souda, India, indeed, using Google, there appears to be no Souda, India, although there is a Souda Airport climatological station in Greece. That however, appears an extremely unlikely choice as the record only begins in 1974 and has many months since with no data reported. There is a Vidhana Soudha in India, which is the seat of a state legislature and not a climatological station.

If this is the case, we are forced to invoke the McKitrick/McIntyre rule which requires that the paper be withdrawn forthwith and the authors offer ritual apologies, burn their PhD degrees and retire to a life of flipping burgers at McDonalds for having shattered scientific regulations established by the Climate Audit Institute.

With proper respect, we remain

Very truly yours

Rabett labs
Auditing on request and sometimes if you don't ask

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Eli writes a letter (cont.)

The following argument in Essex, McKitrick and Andresen proceeds from their flawed (FUBAR occurs as a kind description, FUMTU could suffice, although MOAFU might be better were it not needed for other parts of this paper ) discussion of the cup of coffee and the cold water. Clearly the linear average is preferred on physical grounds. A mass weighted linear average :

  • reproduces the cooling curve one would obtain if the two liquids were first mixed.
  • is independent of the zero of the temperature scale, and depends only on the magnitude of the degree as a multiplicative constant.
  • is proportional to total energy for homogeneous systems using the Kelvin scale.
None of the other proposed averaging methods have these qualities. The only other proposed averaging method which had any physical justification was T^4, but in that case, instead of using the mandatory Kelvin scale, Celsius was used. Having misinterpreted the implications of their own example, the authors use their error to motivate (either that or they really want an IgNoble and the cash prize that goes with it) a detailed discussion of averaging, defining two types of averages:
r-mean Average = [1/N (x1^r + x2^r+ ....... +xN^r)]^(1/r)

s-mean Average =(1/s) [ln{ 1/N (exp[sx1] + exp[sx2]+ ....... +exp[sxN])}]
The r-mean for r=0 is unity. The s-mean is undefined. (Wait young bunnies.) While for other r and s these are mathematically well defined their utility varies. For example, for even powers of r, negative and positive temperatures will contribute equally and the average will always be positive. If r=2 and T=-2, -2, -2, the average would be +2. Applying the same principal to a balance sheet would make three years of losses an average gain (reality is a harsh Ms. Rabett). For negative values of r, if there were a zero in the data, the average would blow up. In those cases one might try a temperature scale where the zero was always lower than the lowest data value. (Kelvin anyone?)

For r>1 the averaging overweights large values, the same is true for the s averages which are used in economics. For the series 3, 4, 2, 5, 3, 5, 345 the average for r=1 is 52, r=3 is 180, r=5 is 234 and for s=1 the average is 343. While there may be reasons why one wants to do this, measuring the average temperature of a system is not as was shown in the first part of this letter.

In Section 4 Essex, et al. describe methods used to calculate global temperature anomalies. While the description is correct, Essex, et al., make a series of ex cathedra claims about these methods which are not justified in the text other than as tenets of belief, and for which there is a considerable refereed literature justifying the methods and discussing the magnitude of uncertainty or error that would be introduced. Essex, et al. draw broad and confident conclusions without justification or reference to other studies, refereed or not, and base further arguments on their assertions. One wonders why the referees did not object to this bootstrapping. Certainly a more sophisticated (adult, grown up.....) discussion of these issues is needed in this article. Essex, McKitrick and Anresen use this to claim that
So far we have shown that different averages exist (true), they are used (sometimes appropriately and sometimes not) and that contradictory trends can emerge between them (if you use them inappropriately). We have shown that the conditions exist in the atmosphere where such paradoxical behavior can be expected to be found. (not done, asserted, but probably true if you use an inappropriate average)
More tomorrow......

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Rabett writes:

Universitaets Prof. i.R. Dr. Jürgen U. Keller (another one gone emeritus)
Universität Siegen
Institut für Fluid- und Thermodynamik
Paul-Bonatz-Str. 9-11
57072 Siegen (Spent a year there one night)

Dear Prof. Keller,

Recently some (resident fireflies) have brought to our attention (tried to shove down our throats is more like it) a paper by Essex (clueless about climate), McKitrick (an economist who can't tell the difference between degrees and radians and gets off on odd interpolations) and Andresen (who happens to be on your editorial board, something we recommend you change right quick) that appeared in the February issue of the Journal of Non-Equilibrium Thermodynamics (the manga edition. Please include more nude scientists for the ladies), entitled "Does a Global Temperature Exist?" (floated a real air biscuit there Jürgen)

After a careful reading (two days later we were able to stop laughing long enough to take pen in hand) it is our considered opinion (even the damn mice cracked up) that arguments advanced (couldn't float a chickenwire canoe on a dry lake) are either irrelevant or incorrect (be kind, be kind...). While others will be writing (to the IgNobel Prize Committee, although the competition in category is strong) about technical matters (did ANYONE stay awake through the seminar?) we restrict ourselves here to basic issues (which establish that you should be convicted of criminal electron waste, there being no paper edition of your fishwrap).

The paper tries (and fails miserably) on all points. You are referred first (clearly if you had read the thing you would have circular filed it) to 3.1.2 where EMA attempt (and do a cannonball splatter) to show the results of averaging the temperature when a glass of ice water@ 2 oC and a cup of coffee at 33 oC cool separately in a 20 oC room. (proportional to T^4 following the Stefan-Boltzmann law). They claim to plot the predictions of the arithmetic average, the harmonic, the RMS and what they call radiation (proportional to T^4 following the Stefan-Boltzmann law). I have also shown the temperatures of the coffee and the ice waterThe only one they get right is the arithmetic average (see below).

Essex and McKitrick then riff about how the radiation curve is higher than the RMS, and the arithmetic average, and the harmonic is lower

Unfortunately, (a shooting foul in thermo) the authors (silly bunnies) fail to use the appropriate temperature scale. Thermodynamics demands the use of the Kelvin temperature scale (students fail for not doing this). To make their point, the authors (very silly bunnies) use Celsius. To assert that radiative emission is proportional to the fourth power of the temperature in Celsius, (is a clusterfuck of the order of invading Iraq to deal with 9/11 and) is a spectacular error (world class in a Journal claiming to be about thermodynamics), but the authors make it (shows what happens when a math and an eco guy get together at the faculty bar and write a paper). In a few cases, one can use Celsius to calculate thermodynamic quantities, an average temperature being one, this is only the case when the function varies linearly with temperature, and even there, not always. For example, the average energy of an ideal gas is 3/2 nRT where T must be in Kelvin.

The dotted brown line next to the arithmetic average shows the result for the "radiation" average if Kelvin is used (makes you kind of want to zot the paper Juergen?). As a matter of fact, if one uses Kelvin for all the other averages

the differences by which the authors set great store vanish.

Is there anything that sets the arithmetic average apart? (Why yes, happy that you asked.) If you had first equilibrated the ice water and the coffee, and then let them warm up to room temperature you would get the blue dots which overlay the arithmetic average. That is a fine physical reason for preferring the arithmetic average. Then, the energy of the liquids pretty much depends on mCT, where m is the mass, C the specific heat and T the absolute temperature (true C(T) has a weak dependence on T, but the difference is small).

More tomorrow, Eli must resnark.....

Thursday, March 15, 2007

What is local thermodynamic equilibrium

Eli, being a bunny, is somewhat fond of non-technical answers to technical questions. On the other hand, Eli has been known to pettifog with the best of em. Eli clearly needs to add some snark to this, but he asks, thermo snark????

The bean that Chris Essex is pushing is that for a system to be in equilibrium it has to be at the same temperature not only of the surroundings, but also with any radiation passing through it, like the sun's during the day, or cold space at night. Since the sun's radiation is best described by a 6000 K black body emission, that is rather not the case. If you want to really pettifog, you can point out that the temperature of the earth is not exactly that of the atmosphere right above it, so the IR emission from the earth passing through the air is at a slightly different temperature. Worse, the air does not absorb as a black body (In fact air and solar radiation are almost 100% decoupled). If you don't have equilibrium, describing a temperature for the system is somewhere between not trivial and not possible.

But dispair not gentle reader, the anonymice have got it pretty much right, you can describe temperatures for volumes of air and water, and even earth. For homogeneous systems like the atmosphere there is even a simple linear relationship between temperature and energy.

The simplest point of view is that thermodynamics describes the properties of a system at equilibrium, pressure, volume, temperature, etc. if the properties of your non-equilibrium system are the same, then you have a local thermodynamic equilibrium (LTE) in your parcel of atmosphere.

Statistical mechanics is another way to show this by measuring the velocity distribution of the molecules in the parcel of air you are looking at. If this matches a Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution (here is a cute little applet to play with. The more particles, the faster you get to equilibrium and the better the match. There are ~ 2 x 10^19 molecules in one cc of air at the surface) the temperature of the distribution is the temperature of the air. You can measure this to frightening levels of precision if the collision rate is much faster than the rate at which light is absorbed/emitted. Such a situation is described as being in local thermodynamic equilibrium (LTE) and temperatures are meaningful.

Places where this becomes difficult are very high up in an atmosphere where the collision rate is going to zero. Those really are non-equilibrium systems in any significant meaning of the words. For the interested and those who want to know more than they need, a slightly more technical discussion framed in terms of stellar atmospheres can be found here.

Essex' challenge is to show that the distribution of velocities (or among quantum states) of the molecules in the air do not follow a thermal distribution which defines a temperature. Since this has been measured directly, he can't do it.

Answers, we got answers...

One of the anonymice had a nice answer for the open book test. The short version is that Essex and Co. are arguing againsta strawman of their own contrivience and turning into knots doing it.
While it is certainly true that employing a broad spectrum of averaging methods and being inconsistent about their application can lead to a broad spectrum of results, this does not speak to what was actually done by NASA in this case.

By diving (and subdividing) into small regions (and representing the temp change within each small region with the average temp change over the region), NASA has already accounted for the "extensive vs intensive" issue that ME&B harp on.

But NASA has done much more in the process. They have compiled information about and then tracked how each region and subregion has behaved. This information is used as a cross check on what the mean global anomaly is doing.

If we tracked surface air temperature over time from every square inch of the earth's surface, few would argue that we could not then draw conclusions about whether the air at the surface of the earth was warming or cooling as a whole.

For example, if all the temperatures went up, we could conclude it was warming. If all went down, cooling.

But we could do much more because, since the temperature measurement at each location correlates directly with the average translational energy of air (N2, O2, etc) molecules in the "parcel" of air above the surface, each temp measurement would represent the same "extensive" thing (in this case translational energy).

A change in the temp of each parcel (temp anomaly) would represent the amount of translational energy lost or gained by each parcel.

The total obtained by summing all these together would represent an actual physical quantity -- the amount of energy lost or gained as a whole (ie, by all the parcels)

So dividing this total by the number of measurements (ie, simple arithmetic average) would also mean something physical (the average change in the translational energy of a parcel of air above the earth's surface).

So, the ME&B argument basically boils down to the following claim: "there is no way of using averaging to 'fill in the gaps' in order to come up with a reasonable estimate for the changes occurring in those gaps" (in this case, parcels of air above small "patches" of the earth).

They have claimed something that is clearly false. Any good engineer knows this (and regularly does it, though not necessarily for the earth's surface) -- and so does NASA.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

An open book test

In the comments over at Deltoid, note is made that Essex and McKitrick joined by one Bjarne Andresen have succeeded in getting their strangeness about temperature, Does a global temperature exist?, into the Journal of Non-Equilibrium Thermodynamics. This new candidate for the Chillingar and Khilyuk Cup is based on the same off the wall basic mistakes about thermodynamics and atmospheric temperature measurements that E&M put forth in their opus "Taken by Storm" and which was taken apart at Rabett Run(compare the figures to those the article), and at Deltoid and more Deltoid, and yet more Deltoid, and even MORE Deltoid (pay careful attention to Robert P's comments in the last one. Hopefully he has pen in hand at the moment to write to the journal with some of the folk over at NOAA). Still, they come back for more.

UPDATE: Hell's Handmaiden has some interesting comments on this

The test, dear mice, is to do the reading, and to explain why each of the following statements in the JNET article is a bowl of steaming crap.

To get you started, Eli will point out that there are no global temperature measurements, there are global temperature ANOMALY measurements. As is pointed out at the GISS website:

Our analysis concerns only temperature anomalies, not absolute temperatures. The temperature anomaly tells us how much warmer or colder than normal it is at a particular place and point in time, the 'normal temperature' being the mean over many (30) years (same place, same time of year). It seems obvious that to find the anomaly, you first have to know the current and normal absolute temperatures. This is correct for the temperature at one fixed spot (the location of one thermometer), but not true at all for regional mean temperatures.
Whereas the individual reading represents just this spot but can be very different from nearby readings, the anomaly computed from those readings is much less dependent on location, elevation, wind patterns etc; it turns out to be representative for a region that covers several square miles. Hence we can combine anomalies from various stations to find regional mean anomalies. Regional absolute temperatures however cannot be obtained from observations alone. For a more detailed discussion, see The Elusive Absolute Surface Air Temperature.
Eli is on deadline, feel free to join in. Best answers will be posted.
It is clear that there are many misconceptions about nonequilibrium temperatures fields. This paper serves to expose and identify them with specific reference to the measurement of climate change. They may be summarized by the following points, which are treated in detail later in the paper:
  1. Sums or averages over the individual temperatures in the field are not temperatures. Neither are they proxies for internal energy.
  2. Temperatures from a field (individually or averaged) neither drive dynamics nor thermodynamics. Instead dynamics are driven by gradients and differences, in temperatures and other variables.
  3. A global spatial average cannot be an index for local conditions, otherwise nonlocal dependence (i.e ”thermodynamics at a distance”) for local conditions would be required.
  4. The utility of any global spatial average of the temperature field as an index for global conditions has been presumed but not demonstrated.
  5. It is easily demonstrated that different spatial averaging rules over temperatures can have contrary trends in time (i.e. some increase while others decrease in time) when the two fields being compared have range-overlap, as they do in this context. This is demonstrated here in a basic example and subsequently with actual atmospheric temperature-field observations.
  6. No ground has been provided for choosing any one such statistic over the rest as the one proper index for global climate.
  7. If there are no physical or pragmatic grounds for choosing one over another, and one increases while the others decreases, there is no basis for concluding that the atmosphere as a whole is either warming or cooling.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Adeptly Adapting to the New Middle

Somewhere down there in the comments, anonymuse mused

Adeptly adapting to mitigation,
Now seems a form of recreation,
Among a few who can't deny,
That AGW's real and pigs can't fly.
We took this with a bowl of carrot chips, but were amazed to see how prescient our little grey guy (well we assume he is a guy, although she may not be) was when we listened to our friend Pat Michaels on the O'Reilly factor (O'Reilly for non-American types is a blotard on steroids). You remember Pat, the Virginia Holiday Inn Express State Climatologist, courtesy of Kevin Lynch and the Kaine shuffle. How the Earth has moved:
I think human beings are warming the planet and they have been doing so for several decades and they are responsible for a substantial part of the warming since 1975, but there are people out there that are very bright and very good scientists that will argue otherwise.
Look this new UN report comes out and it says human beings are warming the surface temperature. To me that is like a breathless announcement that there is gambling in Las Vegas. We know that because greenhouse theory predicts that winters should warm more that summers which they have, that the coldest air of the winter should warm preferentially, which it has, ....and finally that the global stratosphere should cool and all of these things have been observed for decades. Fine, so that's nothing new, lets establish that, let's stipulate that.

Now ask what on earth do you want to do about that, what can you do about it, what's feasible, what don't you want to do about it. That's where the reasoned discussion should go.
But it is O'Reilly who breaks the hearts over at Channel 4 and climate audit:
The world is getting warmer...So that's true, so everyone agrees on that unless you are a crank or a nut.
Michaels nods

Eli kids you not

PS: Michaels' solution is to give money to industry to innovate and get out of the way.

Give and take

Sir Oolius at Coeruleus points to an article in the Telegraph

Timothy Ball, a former climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg in Canada, has received five deaths threats by email since raising concerns about the degree to which man was affecting climate change.
and notes that
Eeeensteresting, especially since immediately after he expresses this sentiment at the end of the Great Global Warming Swindle [google video link] (UPDATE: this link is now broken, Lubos provides with some comment, give and take...) , all non-skeptics are characterized as being hijacked by a sinister conspiracy of grant-greedy scientists and extremist environmentalists who force Africans to live without an electrical grid, sell their natural resources to multinational companies, and cope with flimsy solar panels that can't even power a compact fluorescent lightbulb.
Much there to be recommended with someone whose sense of the ridiculous has not been destroyed by reality.

Over the line

We need to calm down. Yes John was trying to bait me, and maybe he had a wild hare someplace low, but that's OK, Eli is a big Pooka. It's part of the reason for being partially anonymous, you don't have to take things so personally. On the other hand, I don't have much time right now, didn't post as detailed answers as I could have (should is another issue) and although worrying about this blowing up reacted too late and too weakly.

While the owner operator has little to no legal responsibility for comments, you have the responsibility of drawing lines, and making your own position clear to the anonymice and the not so. Eli has kept this blog wide open, he often puts comments that he thinks are better than anything he could ever write into posts, and will continue to do so, but he will pay more attention to pointing out when he thinks someone is over the line. FOS is another issue, we feature that.

Both here and elsewhere Eli has tried to be a stand up bunny. Mom Rabett says that he was always very trying. I'm not going to apologize to John that some of the mus don't like his position, and I ain't gonna apologize to the mus that John is currently setting out traps for them, that's between youse guys, but I will apologize to both that I let this get out of hand without intervening more strongly.

Now that we have all settled down, it is perhaps worthwhile giving examples of what ee cummings wrote

what's too far said he
where you are said she
using Mr. Martin Durkin, a thin skinned fellow, member of the Revolting Communist Party and guiding force behind England's Channel 4 Global Warming Swindle, who addressed a humble correspondent (again, we have our sources)
The BBC is now a force for bigotry and intolerance. Most of the temperature rise in the past 150 years happened before 1940. Most of the human CO2 happened in the latter part of the 20 century.
Closing with the salutary
Why have we not heard this in the hours and hours of shit programming on global warming shoved down our throats by the BBC?

Never mind an irresponsible bit of film-making. Go and fuck yourself.
When prodded to engage in discussion made a final appeal to honor
You're a big daft cock
De gustibus non est disputandum, but we ain't gonna swallow that crap here.

Behave yourselves....

Remember that our aim is to be Thurber like.

Not Ann Coulter like.

Eli doesn't even want to go read this thing.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Carl Wunch is an unhappy camper

The recent exxonian agitprop generated by Channel 4 in England is causing china to rattle in Massachusetts. Carl Wunsch, Professor at MIT, who was enticed to sit for an interview by the producers is as unhappy about what they left on the cutting room floor as what they included and letting it be known everywhere, including Stoat

I've not seen it and the context was not at all what we had agreed on. Was billed as a balanced discussion of the threat of global warming As I began to see ads for the program, I realized I'd been duped.
He went public (Stoat being only read by fuzzy bloggers) to British papers including the Independent:
Professor Wunsch said: "I am angry because they completely misrepresented me. My views were distorted by the context in which they placed them. I was misled as to what it was going to be about. I was told about six months ago that this was to be a programme about how complicated it is to understand what is going on. If they had told me even the title of the programme, I would have absolutely refused to be on it. I am the one who has been swindled."
Channel 4, of course, is circling the horses

A Channel 4 spokesman said: "The film was a polemic that drew together the well-documented views of a number of respected scientists to reach the same conclusions. This is a controversial film but we feel that it is important that all sides of the debate are aired. If one of the contributors has concerns about his contribution we will look into that."

Any complaint would provoke a crisis at Channel 4, now recovering from the Jade Goody Big Brother storm. It had to make a rare public apology after the Independent Television Commission convicted previous programmes on environmental issues by the same film-maker, Martin Durkin, of similar offences - and is already facing questions on why it accepted another programme from him.

The commission found that the editing of interviews with four contributors to a series called Against Nature had "distorted or misrepresented their known views".

and the Observer
Carl Wunsch, professor of physical oceanography at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said the film, The Great Global Warming Swindle, was 'grossly distorted' and 'as close to pure propaganda as anything since World War Two'.
Frankly red flags should have been flying. It should have been perfectly clear that the producers did not accept the idea that green house gases were responsible for climate change. Allow the silly Wabbit a bit of cover about how he knows this, (well basically the anonymice dragged it into the burrow to use as nesting material) but on next week's carrot ration, it is so. Due diligence should have led the good Prof to Google and beyond, but he certainly has a point, which given English regulation of TV might be driven through the chests of Channel 4 and the producer, Martin Durkin.

UPDATE: David Kidd in the comments at Real Climate quotes an article from the Guardian with more information about Durkin and his ilk. The movement to haul Ch4 in front of the British broadcasting authorities appears to be accelerating, and there is some interesting information on where the odd temperature graph claiming to be from NASA/GISS came from (see 88, 92 and 101).

The Telegraph, Lord Monckton's writing pad, rather liked the program. And oh yes, the Tories are going to introduce a swinging new tax on air travel including personal allowances
The Conservatives will also suggest - most controversially of all - rationing individuals to as little as a single short-haul flight each year; any further journeys would attract progressively higher taxes, a leaked document entitled Greener Skies suggests.
Now Wunsch is doing the right thing, although considerable damage has been done by his naivety.

UPDATE: Wunch has written a letter to Channel 4, but, being a bit wiser from the experience, he has also released the text of the letter to the public as well as letting his original letter of protest out. You can teach an old oceanographer new tricks. Real Climate has the inside track on this story.

He is letting it be known that his views were misrepresented and distorted. We can reduce this to four rules:
  1. When you speak to the media, know whom you are speaking to.
  2. Know what your message is. Make clear, simple statements.
  3. Record the interview yourself.
  4. If you are misrepresented say so as loudly and often as you can

More sea level rise toys

Eli has posted previously about interactive models for looking at the effects of sea level rise. A recent article in EOS, the membership journal of the AGU (pay the damn $20 and join already you get EOS and Physics Today) by Rowley, Kostelnick, Braaten, Li and Meisel of the Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets at U Kansas brings us an up to date version based on Google Earth with stunning graphics. Watch what happens to Miami when the ice caps go.

The denialist
blotoads sing about how India and China are not restricted by Kyoto so why should the US do something are ignoring a basic truth which is captured in the tables accompanying the article. The Indian and Chinese governments are not.

South Asia East Asia
Sea Level Rise/m Inundated Area/1000 km^2 Population AffectedInundated Area/1000 km^2 Population Affected
1 26.67 10,633,75215.25 11,198,407
2 43.48 24,862,41626.13 25,107,112
3 63.10 40,199,42045.26 41,883,924
4 103.94 71,463,57663.68 58,662,000
5 125.33 89,797,16888.50 78,512,872
6 143.29 103,521,560103.26 94,926,888

Rowley, et al. lose points for significant figures (Ch. 1 in Brown and LeMay), and true, inundating South Florida and Louisiana at 6 m only affects about 20 million people, but it plays hell with the real estate market.

Have you seen this beast?

Little Miss Rabett has lost her blotoads
And doesn't know where to find them
We left them alone
And they left home
Eli was a happy bunny

Friday, March 09, 2007

More Pink Helicopters.....

UPDATE: For some reason Blogger won't let Eli post this in the comments, so....

We need to calm down. Yes John was trying to bait me, but that's OK, Eli is a big Rabett. It's part of the reason for being partially anonymous, you don't have to take things so personally. On the other hand, I don't have much time right now, didn't post as detailed answers as I could have (should is another issue) and although worrying about this blowing up reacted too late and too weakly.

While the owner operator has little to no legal responsibility for comments, you have the responsibility of drawing lines, and making your own position clear vis-a-vis the anonymice and the not so. Eli has tried to keep this blog as open as possible, and will continue to do so, but he will pay more attention to pointing out when he thinks someone is over the line. FOS is another issue.

Both here and elsewhere Eli has tried to be a stand up bunny. Mom Rabett says that he was always very trying. Now I'm not going to apologize to John that some of the mus don't like his position, and I ain't gonna apologize to the mus that John is currently setting out traps for them, but I will apologize to both that I let this get out of hand without intervening more strongly.

De gustibus non est disputandum
Updating Eli's post on the fruitful discussion that continued on Inkstain, John Fleck wrote

Eli I appreciate it that over at your place you’re able to airbrush out the blemishes,
which, of course, is the purpose of having your own burrow.
but you seem to have accidentally airbrushed out some of the substance of the exchange as well, creating (no doubt unintentionally) a somewhat misleading picture of the exchange. You triggered the whole “black helicopters” discussion with this: “[W]hether he realizes it or not Roger is functioning as an enabler for a very sick policy.” No doubt the omission in your post was inadvertent, but you still haven’t explained the evidence in support of the assertion.
Well no, and I do appreciate the opportunity, but, as in all things good and wonderful, Steve Bloom did it better than the Rabett could (and believe me John luck is a sometime but welcome thing)
Well, let me do that then! I’ll even keep it real short…
It makes perfect sense from a purely academic standpoint for RP Jr. to talk about a mix of mitigation and adaptation, and even to focus on the latter if he has nothing new to say about the former. The problem is that Congress is chock full of politicians who are either adaptation denialists (meaning of course denialists who use the very real need for adaptation as an excuse to not mitigate) or are amenable to such arguments. Thus a great emphasis on mitigation over adaptation is required in order to get Congress to take mitigation steps that are perceived to involve any pain. I know that Roger is very aware of the low-hanging mitigation fruit and has written about it extensively, but to all appearances he has become bored with beating his head against that wall and now finds adaptation more interesting. If he stuck to obscure journals rather than venues such a Nature, Congressional committees and op-eds, I would have no problem. IOW, it’s not a matter of his ideas being wrong but rather one of where and how he promotes them. “Enabler of a sick policy” is harsh but apt IMHO.
What’s a better approach? Jim Hansen, e.g., emphasizes the hell out of mitigation and pretty much never talks about adaptation without linking it to mitigation. My great dislike for Roger’s “honest broker” concept is in part because as he defines it Hansen isn’t one. (He is certainly an honest broker as I would define it relative to the UNFCCC “avoiding dangerous climate change” since policy options that emphasize adaptation at the expense of mitigation won’t do that, but of course Roger dislikes the UNFCCC too.)
This, of course, gets us into the issue of intent, a rather unsafe ground. In deference to John, let me not go there right now.

UPDATE: But please go here first before getting too far into the mosh pit.

For our Swedish fans, RabettRunTV brings you a video of the Pink Helicopter (you have to wait a while, but Eli is reliably informed that the bunnies have loaded it up with jellybeans and will be making drops at Easter).

When asked, don't tell

Andy Revkin in the March 8th NY Times has the latest from the tape over the mouth tales. Scientists in the Alaskan branch of the Fish and Wildlife Service have been told

"Please be advised that all foreign travel requests (SF 1175 requests) and any future travel requests involving or potentially involving climate change, sea ice and/or polar bears will also require a memorandum from the regional director to the director indicating who'll be the official spokesman on the trip and the one responding to questions on these issues, particularly polar bears."
UPDATE: Anne at Brad DeLong's blog captures the polar bears perfectly::

Think I'm kidding about not mentioning polar bears, which I have not mentioned, well Washington ordered Alaskan biologists not to mention polar bear. Actually ordered them not to mention polar bears twice, then confirmed the order.

[Please do not report me for mentioning polar bears, because I really haven't.]

But I like polar bears. Imagine the insanity of this Administration when mentioning polar bears takes an order not to mention polar bears. I think the reason is polar bear sex, but I am not allowed by Washington to mention sex either.

There is more, head over there for it

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Pink Helicopters, the Equilateral Commission and Auris Dei

Sooner or later when party A (Eli) says there has been an organized, well-financed and effective effort against something, party B (the Boulder branch of the Ethonian Society) will haul out the the "you gotta believe in Black Helicopters, the Trilateral commission and Opus Dei argument. This happened over at Inkstain in something that developed into a useful exchange of bodyslams and information. Most of this post comes from there with some additional comments. Kevin V. and the Roger P. both sullied the reputation of the Rabett (didn't think that was possible, did you mice). Worse, Roger cried that Eli was stalking him, but a cute bunny can turn away wrath with a few calming words

Calling Eli a believer in pink helicopters, the Equilateral Commission and Auris Dei (can’t you get anything right) is marginal but all this pales compared to the gross unfairness of labeling a bunny a stalker. What are you, a carrot?

Now, far be it from ER to say that all conspiracy theories are not flown in on Black Helicopters, there are any number wacko belief systems out there that cannot be stamped out, such as all those WMDs in 2002 Iraq being sent to Syria and Iran, GM suppressing the 100 mpg water carburetor and more. A fine selection can be found many places on the net, still, one can ask a few questions and Eli did:

1. Do you agree or disagree that there has been an organized, well-financed effort to stop or delay action on AGW? (My answer is that this happened)

2. Do you believe that that action has been effective or do you claim that the same policy path would have been followed in any case. (My answer is that the campaign was effective and a different policy path would have been followed, although it would not have completely met the challenge. If nothing else I can point to the tobacco case as an exemplar)

The answers were interesting (somewhat bending the timeline here using the wayback machine, with both Roger and Kevin agreeing to 1 and claiming on 2

Kevin: you’d make more sense if you could prove that without Exxon-funded think tanks trying to obscure on climate change that we’d have strong abatement/mitigation policies in place by now. But we wouldn’t, and if you think we would you’re delusional.
Roger was rather more Delphic
Don’t know. It is not clear to me that there is any quantifiable relationship between political advocacy, policy commitments, and greenhouse gas emissions (except as you point out those policies implemented for non GHG reasons which have GHG effects, a big lesson there). For the flip side look at Europe. The actual effects of post-FCCC GHG mitigation advocacy and policies on real-world GHG emissions in Europe, where there is no serious organized opposition to GHG policies, is pretty hard to see. One thing they teach us in policy school is to be careful about policy evaluation by counter factual. Data is always better.
but the thrust is the same. Yet, it is difficult to deny that campaign produced qualitatively different US energy policies. As Eli pointed out to John F, anyone holding such opinions will assign little to no responsibility to those who carried it out. Since their motives remain even after their campaign has been discredited, this attitude enables the Exxons and Western Fuels of the world to affect policy going forward in ways which impose further delays and damage.

An interesting point about the claims on EU emissions is that the picture is much more variegated than a simple lumpenstaat EU picture would show. There is, of course, the ex-Warsaw Pact countries whose economies collapsed in the early 90s and who eliminated a lot of pollution friendly industry by modernization (aka increasing efficiency and decreasing emissions), the core industrialized EU (UK, France Benelux, Germany [BRD part]+ Sweden, etc.) where emission growth has been slightly negative to slightly positive, and the industrializing rim (Spain, Portugal, Greece, Ireland) where the 90s say rapid emission growth but where it is now leveling off. In any case, EU emissions in all categories are low compared to US/Canada/Australia,

Even within the US, there are low emitting states such as California which HAVE set policy on energy use and emissions, which shows that policy can affect emission levels. Answers to the next two levels show the depth of climate nihilism on the eastern slope:

3. Do you believe that any level of GHG CO2 equivalent mixing ratios would be so dangerous/costly as to be avoided through serious mitigation. If so where (My answer is 550-600 ppm, although to avoid that action will have to be taken almost immediately. In this I differ significantly with Tol and Nordhaus on when we have to start although not the end point.)

Roger:450, though likely not in the cards. 550-600 also unlikely. As you know I don’t think that this is the best way to frame the problem or think about action. It is a little like saying, would you prefer a poverty rate of 10% or 8%? Well, lower is better, the question is how do you get there? Not by arguing about ideal poverty rates I’d say. The stabilization rate we get will be the result of many individual policies justified on their own merits, not a top down target, which is exactly as policies are in fact developing around the US and elsewhere.
The relax and enjoy it version of climate science **.

4. What level of GHG mixing ratios can be dealt with through adaptation? (My answer is 450-500 at most but there will have to be mitigation to prevent the mixing ratio from rising above this. )

4) Poorly posed — adaptation will occur whatever the level of CO2 is - 950? Yes. 1500? Yes. Much adaptation is needed at 380 ppm. Adaptation and mitigation are not trade-offs but complements. Adaptation is needed at any levels of GHG concentrations. See our recent Nature piece.

Rabett Run has consistently said that both adaptation and mitigation are needed, but Roger's answer avoids the question (have to be more specific in the future) which was at what level would ONLY adaptation be sufficient.

UPDATE: In the comments, Roger Pielke Jr. writes:
To answer your last question - at _no level_ is only adaptation sufficient. Clear enough?

Now go stalk a carrot for a while.
Which is as clear a statement on this issue as could be wished.

UPDATE 2: See the new post on pink helicopters where Steve Bloom provides a much better answer to what is happening in the EU

** Best expressed by Bert Brecht

Ja; mach nur einen Plan
sei nur ein großes Licht!
Und mach dann noch´nen zweiten Plan
gehn tun sie beide nicht.
Denn für dieses Leben
ist der Mensch nicht schlecht genug:
doch sein höch´res Streben
ist ein schöner Zug.