Monday, October 29, 2007

Where is the European Warm Period in the Bristlecone Record?

Eli has always wondered how Malcolm Hughes avoided the storm associated with the Mann, Bradley and Hughes papers. Hughes, of course, was the dendrologist of the group, and head of the Arizona Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research.

A recent paper by Mathew Salzer and Malcolm Hughes in Quaternary Research 67 (2007) 57–68 provides additional information. The paper has modest, but interesting goals

Many years of low growth identified in a western USA regional chronology of upper forest border bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva and Pinus aristata) over the last 5000 yr coincide with known large explosive volcanic eruptions and/or ice core signals of past eruptions. Over the last millennium the agreement between the tree-ring data and volcano/ice-core data is high: years of ring-width minima can be matched with known volcanic eruptions or ice-core volcanic signals in 86% of cases. In previous millennia, while there is substantial concurrence, the agreement decreases with increasing antiquity. Many of the bristlecone pine ring-width minima occurred at the same time as ring-width minima in high latitude trees from northwestern Siberia and/or northern Finland over the past 4000–5000 yr, suggesting climatically effective events of at least hemispheric scale. In contrast with the ice-core records, the agreement between widely separated tree-ring records does not decrease with increasing antiquity.
Tree ring widths are affected by temperature, precipitation and length of growing season (which may be correlated with the other two). High elevation trees are affected by large volcanic eruptions for several years. This allows Salzer and Hughes to differentiate between drought and the cooling brought about by eruptions. Looking at the tree ring index one can clearly see many large eruptions, the little ice age, but no European Warm Period, often called medieval.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


Eli was thinking about the recent sanctions imposed by the US on Iranian banks. It occurred to him that it would be risky for Iran to take payments for its oil in dollars. It appears to have occurred to someone else.

Although opening an oil bourse has so far been unsuccessful, Iran has had success in asking its petroleum customers to pay in non-dollar currencies. As of October 3, 2007, Iran currently receives non-dollar currencies for 85% of its oil exports with euros composing 65% and yen 20%. Iran is currently planning on moving the remaining 15% of dollar denominated oil exports to other currencies such as the United Arab Emirates dirham.[2]
and not so long ago
July 13 (Bloomberg) -- Iran asked Japanese refiners to switch to the yen to pay for all crude oil purchases, after Iran's central bank said it is reducing holdings of the U.S. dollar. 

Iran wants yen-based transactions ``for any/all of your forthcoming Iranian crude oil liftings,'' according to a letter sent to Japanese refiners that was signed by Ali A. Arshi, general manager of crude oil marketing and exports in Tehran at the National Iranian Oil Co. The request is for all shipments ``effective immediately,'' according to the letter, dated July 10 and obtained by Bloomberg News.
Eli offers this as necessary but not otherwise much noted information needed to figure out what will happen in the near future.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The loons take flight

(to be removed) there has been a surge here coming in from the Real Climate Wiki, what set this off (Eli- 7/2/2008)?? Please reply in the comments

As Halloween nears the loons take flight, and Eli, the ever helpful bunny is here to instruct you in spotting strange birds. The first thing we need for this class is two splendid examples and we have located them for you complete with illustrated disassembly instructions.

The loons: So how shall we know them?

The first is Randall Mills, proprietor of Black Light Power who has raised ~$60M to follow his own personal wil' o the wisp, hydrino power. Hydrinos are states of hydrogen with fractional quantum numbers that the Good Fairy Funder and Mills believe in. Eli will actually agree on the matter with Lubos who spotted this loon fairly early on. You can go read what the mad Czech wrote, but one of his commenters, Nigel, was positively eloquent,

This is sustained by the facts, which contradict Mills, who is basically doing for QED what Ptolemy did for ancient cosmology, against Aristarchus’ solar system. If the British Government is funding Mills’ horseshit, I give up on physics. However, some of his chemical epicycles may predict the same as standard quantum mechanics, so it is not all going to be completely wrong (just as the epicycles in the earth-centred universe model allowed fairly accurate calculations and predictions to be made). Consider what Feynman rightly says: . . .

"The inexperienced, and crackpots, and people like that, make guesses that are simple, but [with extensive knowledge of the actual facts rather than speculative theories of physics] you can immediately see that they are wrong, so that does not count."
Of course, this was crank bait, and sure as shooting one of them emerged. Credit to everyone over there that they did not engage.

A distinguishing characteristic of loons, and Mills is no exception is that they give new meaning to prolix. Here Mills provides us with a 59 pager (short for him) on the Fifth Force. The first four are, of course, gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. Over at Slashdot klossner nails the second technique for loon spotting
This is a classic example of a crackpot "Einstein was wrong" paper. Page 2 resembles genuine science, but by page 3 the author has lost it, insisting the kinetic energy of an object must not have different values for observers in different reference frames
are simple principles you can apply and Warren Siegel has the basic instructions. The first sign is

Quacks want only to talk and not to listen. They are paranoids with delusions of grandeur: Their theory could never be wrong; therefore everyone else's must be. Eventually the true quacks make the same remarks, some version of almost all those listed below.
Somewhere in every pile of algebra, vituperation and spittle lies a simple error, something overlooked, a strange and wrong transformation but you get the idea, but it is buried in verbage and you have to dig it out. Siegel points out that
Generally, their comments are of 3 types

of which the first is

Attacks on established theories, based on distaste
"I have proven that special relativity/quantum mechanics/... is wrong."
You mean you did an experiment whose results disagree with the predictions of that theory? I didn't think so. You mean you proved it is self-contradictory? Not possible: Mathematically it's an elementary system, whose consistency is easy to check. You might as well claim that you can prove 2+2=5. (If you think you can do that, I'm willing to give you $2+$2 change for a $5 bill.) If you think you have found an inc onsistency, you have probably made an assumption that is not implied by the theory. The fact is that these theories are not only well confirmed by experiment, but practical use is made of them every single day.
Now, if your eyes have uncrossed and you have picked yourself up from the floor and actually read Mills and Lu, you might note they did an experiment, but such experiments are especially prone to the "Nightmares of the Art of Measuring". This list of terrors was compiled by G. Hathaway and is required reading October 30 at midnight in Bunny labs. The little coneys go away chastised and scared and remain so for about a week. See how many of them you think that Mills missed, especially in the electromagnetic category.

Our second example is a courtesy of Arxiv. Before we get into it, Dr. Rabett needs to tell you that IEHO Arxiv is a wonderful resource, both for those who contribute and those who search there for enlightenment. Ask Lubos, he publishes there also (as has Eli). However, the bar to putting something up can be, shall we say, limbo low and perhaps a new record has been set by Gerhard Gerlich and Ralf D. Tscheuschner, who claim a Falsifiation Of The Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects within The Frame Of Physics, bluntly put they don't believe that greenhouse gases can cause any warming.
The atmospheric greenhouse effect, an idea that authors trace back to the traditional works of Fourier 1824, Tyndall 1861, and Arrhenius 1896, and which is still supported in global climatology, essentially describes a fictitious mechanism, in which a planetary atmosphere acts as a heat pump driven by an environment that is radiatively interacting with but radiatively equilibrated to the atmospheric system. According to the second law of thermodynamics such a planetary machine can never exist. Nevertheless, in almost all texts of global climatology and in a widespread secondary literature it is taken for granted that such mechanism is real and stands on a firm scientific foundation. In this paper the popular conjecture is analyzed and the underlying physical principles are clarified. By showing that (a) there are no c ommon physical laws between the warming phenomenon in glass houses and the fictitious atmospheric greenhouse effect b) there are no calculations to determine an average surface temperature of a planet, (c) the frequently mentioned difference of 33 C a meaningless number calculated wrongly, (d) the formulas of cavity radiation are used inappropriately, (e) the assumption of a radiative balance is unphysical, (f) thermal conductivity and friction must not be set to zero, the atmospheric greenhouse conjecture is falsified.
This beauty is 114 pages long and the spittle comes hot and heavy. So why waste time on it. Well this has become one of the papers du jour in Denialsville and similar climes When it first came out, there was some notice. Phil Felton, in the Real Climate comments points out that
This runs to ~90 pages, the first 40 of which are devoted to proving that real greenhouses rely on cutting off convection rather than differential radiation effects! The authors seem very proud of themselves and slip in several very non scientific sneers as well. They consider the IR portion of the solar spectrum to be the same as the IR of the thermal radiation from the earth, they don’t seem to consider the TOA at all (I may have missed it in all the verbiage).
Back in July Atmoz had a long thread on this. He touched on this simple example which demonstrated G&Ts ignorance with their arrogance but in a different way. G&T want to compare the radiation from the earth's surface to that from the sun at the surface. Starting from the Stefan Boltzman law, with the sun at ~6000 K and the surface at ~300 K they get that the ratio should be

which gets two things wrong. First, G&T have calculated the solar intensity for the Earth's disk as illuminated by the sun. The area of the disk is π r^2 where r is the radius of the earth. Because the earth is a sphere (as the famous elephant beloved of physicists) the area of the surface is r^2, thus the intensity of the sun at the surface is reduced by a factor of 4. Which means that the solar heating of the surface and the radiation emitted from the surface are roughly the same. But wait, the albedo of the earth where the sun shines, in the UV/VIS/NIR is about 0.3 (about 30% of the sunlight is reflected). The IR emissivity of the surface is close to unity. Therefore solar intensity at the surface has to be decreased to 0.7. In the Atmoz thread, they chime in and say that there is mention of this in a footnote in v1.0, but Eli does not see where it went in the vX.o he has. Anyhow, Atmoz blows them away for duplicity
Thanks for the comment. I did see that footnote, but the actual text of the paper makes it seem that the value of 0.7 is a consequence of “fixing” the temperature at a certain value, and not that it’s related to the albedo. Hiding this fact in a footnote just offers the reader a chance to miss this important information.
Still G&T are convinced that folk who compare apples with apples are cheats, liars and worse
Figure 13 is an obscene picture, since it is physically misleading. The obscenity will not remain in the eye of the beholder, if the latter takes a look at the obscure scaling factors already applied by Bakan and Raschke in an undocumented way in their paper on the so called natural greenhouse effect[102]. This is scientific misconduct as is the missing citation. Ba kan and Raschke borrowed this Figure from Ref. [103] where the scaling factors, which are of utmost importance for the whole discussion, are left unspecified. This is scientific misconduct as well.
This fits well into Siegel's 16th point
"Why don't you spend some time telling me what's wrong with my theory?" Why don't you take a course? That's what they're for: So that many people can be taught the same thing at the same time, making more efficient use of the instructor's time. The instructor's office hours are for those who already took their own time studying the course material.
There is some amazing querulous nonsense, first G&T (they must have been hitting the sauce the night they wrote this) post a picture showing the principles of radiative balance in the atmosphere like this one (but not as pretty),

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

2. cannot represent sourceless fluxes, i.e. a divergence free vector fields in three dimensions, since a vanishing three-dimensional divergence still allows that a portion of the field goes sidewards;
and Eli's favorite
3. do not fit in the framework of Feynman diagrams, which represent mathematical expressions clearly definedin quantum field heory [159].

4. do not fit in the standard language of system theory or system engineering [160].
But even better, a zillion or so pages down they post this thing to represent the atmospheric heat engine, which surely does not meet their criteria 1-4, but this is where the rubber burns as it hits the road, for our authors argument is based fundamentally on this little beauty from which they conclude:
A machine which transfers heat from a low temperature reservoir (e.g. stratosphere)
to a high temperature reservoir (e.g. atmosphere) without external work applied, cannot exist - even if it is radiatively coupled to an environment, to which it is radiatively balanced. A modern climate model is supposed to be such a variant of a perpetuum mobile of the second kind.
Obviously G&T were not on the distribution list. First, the second law only applies to an isolated system, the earth is not an isolated system, with energy from the sun streaming in, nor is the system in radiative equilibrium with solar radiation, which as friend Essex points out has a temperature of ~6000 K. There is a gynourmous source of work to drive the system. We can call this the Theory of Evolution Error for obvious reasons. G&T make a fuss over the difference between energy fluxes and heat fluxes. First quoting Rahmstorf
Some `sceptics' state that the greenhouse effect cannot work since (according to the second law of thermodynamics) no radiative energy can be transferred from a colder body (the atmosphere) to a warmer one (the surface). However, the second law is not violated by the greenhouse effect, of course, since, during the radiative exchange, in both directions the net energy flows from the warmth to the cold."
and then saying that
Rahmstorf's reference to the second law of thermodynamics is plainly wrong. The second law is a statement about heat, not about energy. Furthermore the author introduces an obscure notion of "net energy flow". The relevant quantity is the "net heat flow", which, of course, is the sum of the upward and the downward heat flow within a fixed system, here the atmospheric system. It is inadmissible to apply the second law for the upward and downward heat separately redefining the thermodynamic system on the fly
The net heat flows excluding radiation are sensible heat (thermal drafts) and latent heat (from condensation of water vapor emitted from the surface). The only heat flows are from the warmer surface to colder higher levels of the troposphere (BTW G&T don't understand that the stratosphere is well above the level at which heat flows from and radiative transfer with the surface occur, they need to take the course, errors of this sort are common in the paper and invalidate much of it).

OTOH, the radiation emitted from the surface is thermal, and the radiation from the atmosphere and the clouds is also thermal, so what we have are two systems at different temperature exchanging thermal radiation. They are not in thermal equilibrium with each other because they are at different temperatures, but each is characterized by a local thermodynamic equilibrium (the distribution of velocities and quantum states can be described by a single temperature for each system). If we look at the diagram, we see that ~117 W/m^2 of thermal radiation is emitted from the earth, ~111 is absorbed by the atmosphere and ~ 96 is reradiated to the ground, thus thermal radiation moves on net from the earth to the atmosphere and thence to space. The balance that must be maintained is that emissions at the top of the atmosphere must match the solar input. G&T need to turn those arrows around.

This went around in circles at Atmoz. There is a nice comment about 2/3 the way down that starts with utter bollocks. He is being kind in pointing out how radiation can be a form of heat conduction.

Fisking this thing would be the work of a lifetime and Eli has plumbing to attend to

Thursday, October 25, 2007

New climate book

Ray Pierrehumbert is writing a book on the physics of climate. Chapters and a computer based workbook is available

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

There goes the neighborhood (UPDATED)

UPDATE: 10/25/2007 - the paper has appeared

ABSTRACT: The growth rate of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), the largest human contributor to human-induced climate change, is increasing rapidly. Three processes contribute to this rapid increase. Two of these processes concern emissions. Recent growth of the world economy combined with an increase in its carbon intensity have led to rapid growth in fossil fuel CO2 emissions since 2000: comparing the 1990s with 2000–2006, the emissions growth rate increased from 1.3% to 3.3% y–1.The third process is indicated by increasing evidence (P =0.89) for a long-term (50-year) increase in the airborne fraction (AF) of CO2 emissions, implying a decline in the efficiency of CO2 sinks on land and oceans in absorbing anthropogenic emissions. Since 2000, the contributions of these three factors to the increase in the atmospheric CO2 growth rate have been {approx}65±16% from increasing global economic activity, 17±6% from the increasing carbon intensity of the global economy, and 18±15% from the increase in AF. An increasing AF is consistent with results of climate–carbon cycle models, but the magnitude of the observed signal appears larger than that estimated by models.All of these changes characterize a carbon cycle that is generating stronger-than-expected and sooner-than-expected climate forcing.
Thanks to Hank Roberts for the pointer. He's right it is bad news in many ways (see comments).

Via Stoat who stole it from In It for the Gold, a recent article claims that the North Atlantic is not absorbing as much CO2 as it warms, a reasonable proposition. Still there are doubters and one of our furry friends remarks :
But airbourne fraction is still about 55%, so this can't be happening globally.
Sadly yes, Virginia, it is happening globally
Contributions to accelerating atmospheric CO2 growth from economic activity, carbon intensity, and efficiency of natural sinks

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , October 2007.
Josep G. Canadell, Corinne Le Quere, Michael R. Raupach, Christopher B. Field, Erik T. Buitenhuis, Philippe Ciais, Thomas J. Conway, Nathan P. Gillett, R. A. Houghton, and Gregg Marland

Carbon sink slowdown contributing to rapid growth in atmospheric CO2

This study finds that the recent swift increase in atmospheric CO2 is due to faster economic growth coupled with a halt in carbon intensity reductions, in addition to natural sinks removing a smaller proportion of emissions from the air. Efficiency of natural sinks to remove emissions from human activities has been declining for 50 years.

While rising anthropogenic emissions due to increased economic growth have been established as the driver of accelerated atmospheric CO2 this study shows that both the slow down of natural sinks and the halt to improvements in carbon intensity are contributing more than one third of the increase.

More tomorrow when the actual paper is available.

UPDATE: 10/23 - Well the Joesep Canadell's paper still moulders in the grave of not for attribution, and has not been released on the PNAS web site, which is curious, but it is all over the news. Some more meat from Scientific American
Specifically, oceans and plant growth absorbed only around 540 kilograms per metric ton (1,190 pounds per short ton) of the CO2 produced in 2006, compared with 600 kilograms per metric ton (1,322 pounds per short ton) in 2000. Coupled with an emissions growth rate of 3.3 percent—triple the growth rate of the 1990s—the atmospheric burden is now rising by nearly two parts per million of CO2 a year, the fastest growth rate since 1850, the international team of researchers reports in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.
but as they say there is a lot of noise in a lot of data but google is your friend (although Eli gratefully acknowledges another friend who has provided a preprint), so our paws did the keyboarding and found a recent presentation by Canadell that has a lot of the information in the paper. The key point is that the amount of CO2 emitted each year is going through the roof. The fraction of the carbon emitted each year going into the atmosphere has increased over the last half century
and the amount going into the oceans has decreased about the same amount while the land fraction stays about the same.The sharp eyed bunnies should look at what happened to the fraction of emitted CO2 that went into the land during the huge 1998 el Nino year. It plunged faster than the Arctic sea ice coverage this September. The take home is that theCO2 fertilization effect combined with higher temperatures will not save the day.

but, perhaps Mighty Mouse can. Eli is going for one of those beers you guys hid in the bathtub with the ice.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Blue Rabett or as the toilet twirls

In which the bunnies learn why physics is always less useful than plumbing. On her way out the door this morning, Ms. Rabett muttered, the toilet isn't working, that's your job. So Eli did the manly thing and went and bought about a hundred bucks worth of tools, observed that the toilet not only didn't flush down, but also needed a complete gut replacement, went back to the hardware store, bought a complete set of innards, stopped by the bookstore to get a book on useful expletives for when nothing works and took the damn thing apart getting the blue stuff all over himself and the floor, that book came in useful, and we learned that contrary to rumor brass screws used in toilets do corrode so you have to go back to the hardware store and get WD-40 and when that doesn't work you go back yet again and get a nut cracker (nononono, not that kind).

Put it back together and it still didn't flush (we won't talk about running, that's another project), so apart and together it went again, but clearly water was not filling the bowl quickly enough, so Eli went upstairs and looked at the working toilet in the house. Being a scientist and all, Eli observed that the water in the upstairs toilet circled clockwise when flushed and the downstairs one circled couterclockwise. As a well trained physicist Eli occasionally believed that this was all due to Coriolus forces, so he concluded that the upstairs toilet was in heaven, and the downstairs one in hell, or Australia, and we know that nothing works there because of the Howard government which, like the toilet, soon will be replaced.

Still, it was clear that closer inspection was called for and the Rabett
bent over, assumed the position and observed the brown underrim. Folks, Eli's shit may not stink, but it does stick, so the bunnies gloved him up and away we scrubbed and stuck pointy things into the holes which brings us to the point of this diatribe. If you bend down and feel around the bottom rim of your toilet you will find a bunch of little holes and one big one. When you flush, the water is forced into the rim and through the jets into the bowl. The big one is aimed slightly to one side or the other of the standing water in the bowl, which is what causes it to rotate rapidly. If you actually looked when you flushed you would see this jet of water cross the bowl and twirl the water. The direction of the big jet determines clockwise or counterclockwise. The other jets wash down the surface and rapidly build the volume until siphonic action strikes. Your crapper at work.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Gore right again

Sadly, one often has to write that line, because Al Gore has become the Cassandra of the modern world, almost always right on policy and facts, but always ignored. The latest is the nine judge flap, well covered at Deltoid (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Eli has been aware of coral bleaching since the late 1980s, especially in the Caribbean, and well aware that a primary cause is warmer oceans with a well stirred mixture of other environmental stresses. Everything in ecology short of a bulldozer or major asteroid strike is a necessary but not sufficient condition. John Quiggin has returned from the Coral Reefs Future Forum and brings us word on the obvious

First, it’s noteworthy how opinion has solidified on the point that bleaching (corals expelling their associated symbiotic zooxanthellae ) is a response to higher temperature driven by general warming of the seas, rather than being due to locally specific causes. Al Gore’s claim to this effect, listed as an error in the recent court case that has been exciting the delusionists, has the full support of everyone I talked to there. Given the regular claim that any scientist who accepts the evidence on global warming must have been bought off by the prospect of grant money, let me observe that the problems we already had with coral reefs are enough to keep every marine biologist on the planet gainfully employed for life without inventing new ones.
This reminds Eli of a coal science conference he went to in the early 1990s, where everyone was, in Quiggin's words, staring at their shoes in gloom, having realized that increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was a show stopper. Scientists are by nature realists. Belette and the judge might wish to amend

7. The IPCC reports predict that, if the temperature were to rise by 1-3C, there would be increased coral bleaching and widespread coral mortality unless corals could adapt or acclimatise, but while there is increasing evidence for climate change impacts on coral reefs the IPCC concluded that separating the impacts of climate change-related stresses from other stresses such as over-fishing and pollution was difficult.

Not my thing.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Not getting it

There appears to be a confusion about in the land that An Inconvenient Truth (AIT) was the long awaited prequel to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), and as such should contain nothing that is not nailed down and written in stone. This opinion, held by some whose opinion Eli values has loosed a plague of dyspepsia, the results of which can be observed on the floor around here.

It is a film folks and it has a purpose, to bring the issue of climate change into public discourse and provide information about climate change to those without much previous information, or whose information has come from media owned by Rupert Murdoch. Anyone want to debate that AIT has not been successful in meeting that goal? Brian Schmidt can hold your bet for a nanosecond before he sends the money to Eli. Wonder why the film and Al Gore have been so heavily attacked. Hint: It ain't because a couple of scenes are technically imperfect, or because in some things Gore goes beyond the AR4 (which, as has been pointed out by several is the most penurious reading of the evidence) or even, horrors, exaggerate beyond what the particular sufferer from bad tummy believes.

The film was didactic and anyone who has taught beginners knows that you have to highlight, simplify, omit and stretch things to get the basic principles across. You go back later and fill in the details, but again, several of the illuminorati think that you provide the details up front, which accounts for the snoring.

Now what to say to those predicting the backlash driven by whatever errors there are in the film? Well, as Enrico Fermi said about ETs, where is it? As time passes, the increasingly accepted POV is that the film gets the big things right, has played a vital role in bringing the issue of climate change to the fore, and is bringing large numbers of people to the realization that action on climate change is needed asap. Public discussion of many of the issues has become more detailed and nuanced, but could only become so when a large number of people got the basic things which the film talked about. These are major accomplishments for which Gore deserves serious praise and for which he won the unprecedented Oscar/Nobel Peace Prize double. AIT combines art and policy.

So what is a perfectionist to do. Perhaps say things like, the film got the broad things right, but there is more depth that one needs for detailed understanding and here are some places where, if you have the time there is more to discuss. . .cue Kilimanjaro, Chad, Tonga, etc. . . . . Order matters. Start the discussion by pointing out that glaciers pretty much everywhere are retreating at rapid levels not previously seen. Then point out that local conditions can have an effect, but the general trend is driven by warmer temperatures and use Kilimanjaro as an example where a combination of things any one of which would not have been sufficient, INCLUDING global warming, has contributed to an extremely rapid decline

In closing, the response from Gore's group pretty much nails what a bunch of folks are too stubborn to acknowledge

The process of creating a 90-minute documentary from the original peer-reviewed science for an audience of moviegoers in the U.S. and around the world is complex. Vice President Gore has studied this issue for over 30 years. He regularly seeks the advice and feedback of scientists to understand the latest research. It's not easy, even for Ph.D.'s, to explain the concept of the "non-linearity" of the climate system even after decades in their respective fields. Imagine trying to translate that complicated scientific evidence into a clear and compelling message with only a single slide and 20 seconds to make your case. It isn't simple. In many cases, particular points had to be truncated and shortened from the original research. A movie inherently cannot reflect the depth of the science as the 3 volumes of the IPCC and other sources from which it draws. The original science cannot speak to moviegoers. And, as is not made clear by the Fact Checker, the judge stated clearly that he was not attempting to perform "an analysis of the scientific questions" in his ruling.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Cluster growth

Those whose memories extend back further than the latest Nobel award may recall that since at least 1960, cosmic rays have been repeatedly invoked as causing cloud formation and thus driving climate change. This conceit has been knocked down innumerable times but keeps arising. While on its face it is reasonable to think that ionization of molecules by cosmic rays will drive formation of small aerosols, there has been very little (and here Eli considerably exaggerates) on the relative importance of ionized aerosols and neutral ones.

Now comes Markku Kulmala, Ilona Riipinen, Mikko Sipilä, Hanna E. Manninen, Tuukka Petäjä, Heikki Junninen, Miikka Dal Maso, Genrik Mordas, Aadu Mirme, Marko Vana, Anne Hirsikko, Lauri Laakso, Roy M. Harrison, Ian Hanson, Carl Leung, Kari E. J. Lehtinen, Veli-Matti Kerminen in Science 318 (5847), 89 - 92 (2007) who have hiked into the Finnish forest sherpaing a large amount of new instrumentation including a Neutral Cluster–Air Ion Spectrometer (NAIS), a UF-02proto Condensation Particle Counter and a Grimm nanoDMA and Faraday Cup Electrometer preceded by a unipolar charger and emerged to write on Toward Direct Measurement of Atmospheric Nucleation.

Atmospheric aerosol formation is known to occur almost all over the world, and the importance of these particles to climate and air quality has been recognized. Although almost all of the processes driving aerosol formation take place below a particle diameter of 3 nanometers, observations cover only larger particles. We introduce an instrumental setup to measure atmospheric concentrations of both neutral and charged nanometer-sized clusters. By applying the instruments in the field, we come to three important conclusions: (i) A pool of numerous neutral clusters in the sub–3 nanometer size range is continuously present; (ii) the processes initiating atmospheric aerosol formation start from particle sizes of 1.5 nanometers; and (iii) neutral nucleation dominates over the ion-induced mechanism, at least in boreal forest conditions.
If the rate of cosmic ray driven ionized nuclei formation is much too low to drive aerosol (and thus cloud) formation then cloud formation will not depend on cosmic ray fluxes. This result is from a forest, and will certainly be followed up on

Recently it was suggested that the formation of new atmospheric aerosol particles is connected with the existence of thermodynamically stable 1- to 2-nm clusters, formed in the atmosphere by some nucleation mechanism. From a physical standpoint, two very different cluster types in the sub–3 nm size range can be distinguished: charged (air ions or ion clusters) and neutral species. The existence of atmospheric ion clusters as small as 0.5 to 1 nm in diameter has been known for decades, and measurements with ion spectrometers, such as the Air Ion Spectrometer (AIS) and Balanced Scanning Mobility Analyzer (BSMA), have demonstrated that such clusters are present almost all the time. The production rates of ion clusters are, however, generally too low to explain the observed aerosol-formation rates.

In view of the insufficient numbers of ion clusters, the keyto understanding atmospheric aerosol formation is clearly the presence of neutral clusters.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Shellenberger and Lomborg

This important (and somewhat rambling) post by Sylvia Tognetti. There are many good links which you should be sure to read. And be sure to watch the video of the Colbert Report which she mentions

and follow the link to Judith Curry's comments on Lomborg in the Washington Post. Tognetti is cross with Lomborg

What I find particularly annoying are Lomborg's repeated accusations and mischaracterizations of the views of unnamed environmental groups or just plain "people." Environmental organizations and individual advocates, and scientists who also "want to put out the fire" are quite a diverse bunch who, unlike Lomborg - or Luntz, or even Nordhaus and Shellenburger, can disagree with each other in a number of ways without setting themselves apart from and attacking all "environmental groups" and who have been trying to have an honest and sensible conversation about how best to address the climate crisis in time to avoid a catastrophe.
Eli is cross with Lomborg, Nordhaus, Shellenburger, and others to be named later.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Stalinism, climate change denial and totalitarian wanna be's

Tim Lambert at Deltoid points to the blather from a mob of denialists. Eli notes that one of them, a Scott Johnson, lead off with this beauty:

Today's award to Al Gore and the IPCC "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change" fits in with a subset of cosmopolitan frauds, fakers, murderers, thieves, and no-accounts going back about twenty years.
The interesting thing here is the use of the word cosmopolitan. While most bunnies are not old enough to remember, Eli was himself a young, though very aware, coney during Stalin's last years. Lest you are wondering who these cosmopolitans are, Eli, who remembers some of the code words, is quite unhappy to fill you in:
Rootless cosmopolitan (Russian language: безродный космополит, "bezrodniy kosmopolit") was a Soviet euphemism during Joseph Stalin's anti-Semitic campaign of 19491953, which culminated in the "exposure" of the alleged Doctors' plot. The term "rootless cosmopolitan" referred to Jews; however, since a state policy of anti-Semitism conflicted with official Marxist principles such as the fraternity of peoples and proletarian internationalism, the term "rootless cosmopolitanism" was used as a code phrase
The right wing in the United States today seeks to emulate Stalin, even to using the same imagery and tactics. Konstantin Azadovskii and Boris Egorov in an essay published in the Journal of Cold War Studies describe the tactics used by the Stalinist regime

Over the next few years almost every area of science and culture was embroiled in grandiose campaigns to do away with "groveling before the West," "anti-patriotism" (later "anticosmopolitanism"), and generally anything "non- Russian."

One simply has to exchange American for Russian in the article to understand the tactics of the extreme right in the US

The demarcation of Soviet society into "Russian" and "non-Russian" as well as "patriots" and "antipatriots" sparked tension, caused neighbors to be suspicious of one another, and evoked the specter of the "enemy." Newly available evidence confirms that this is precisely what Stalin sought. Public fear of an "enemy" suited his goals in the Cold War. Unlike in World War II, when the main enemy was unmistakably Germany, the anti-Western/anti- cosmopolitan campaigns were directed against abstract foreign foes on the one hand (e.g., global imperialism,) and against specific groups and nations within the USSR on the other.

Simply do a global replace of "the war on terror" for global imperialism. We know who today's specific groups and nations are too.

The campaign in the late 1940s against internal enemies was intended to place the blame for the continued enormous hardships of Soviet life on "fascists," "American imperialists," and other "alien elements" and to keep the populace in a constant state of tension.

But inevitably all minorities will be targetted

Increasingly, as discussed below, the anticosmopolitan campaigns took on an overtly anti-Semitic tone. There is no longer any doubt that Stalin himself was directly responsible for this policy. In private conversations he had openly expressed his desire to eliminate "Jewish influence" and to help a "native" (i.e., non-Jewish) intelligentsia gain sway in the Soviet Union. 6 Stalin's daughter, Svetlana Allilueva, later acknowledged that the murder of the eminent Jewish actor Solomon Mikhoels in Minsk in January 1948 was undoubtedly sparked by "[her] father's well-known tendency to see 'Zionism' and plots everywhere." 7 Konstantin Simonov, one of the writers who had met with Stalin in 1947, recalls that "in the very last years of his life Stalin held a position on the Jewish question diametrically opposed to the position he espoused in public." 8 At Stalin's behest, Jewish writers, artists, and academics came under attack in 1949. Everything possible was done to "expose" them, remove them, and ultimately replace them with "real" Russians of known loyalty to the regime.

Scott Johnson and Powerline are indeed Stalin's true heirs.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Norwegian Nobel Committee

has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 is to be shared, in two equal parts, between the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Albert Arnold (Al) Gore Jr. for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.

Indications of changes in the earth's future climate must be treated with the utmost seriousness, and with the precautionary principle uppermost in our minds. Extensive climate changes may alter and threaten the living conditions of much of mankind. They may induce large-scale migration and lead to greater competition for the earth's resources. Such changes will place particularly heavy burdens on the world's most vulnerable countries. There may be increased danger of violent conflicts and wars, within and between states.

Through the scientific reports it has issued over the past two decades, the IPCC has created an ever-broader informed consensus about the connection between human activities and global warming. Thousands of scientists and officials from over one hundred countries have collaborated to achieve greater certainty as to the scale of the warming. Whereas in the 1980s global warming seemed to be merely an interesting hypothesis, the 1990s produced firmer evidence in its support. In the last few years, the connections have become even clearer and the consequences still more apparent.

Al Gore has for a long time been one of the world's leading environmentalist politicians. He became aware at an early stage of the climatic challenges the world is facing. His strong commitment, reflected in political activity, lectures, films and books, has strengthened the struggle against climate change. He is probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted.

By awarding the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 to the IPCC and Al Gore, the Norwegian Nobel Committee is seeking to contribute to a sharper focus on the processes and decisions that appear to be necessary to protect the world’s future climate, and thereby to reduce the threat to the security of mankind. Action is necessary now, before climate change moves beyond man’s control.


If you google

Gore nobel 2007
seven hours after the prize was awarded you get 3,490.000 hits. Substitute IPCC for Gore and you get 398,000. That means there are probably ~3,000,000 denialist wingnut heads that have exploded. Please watch your step.


Congratulations to the IPCC and Al Gore for winning the Nobel Peace Prize. The award fully fulfills Nobel's intent as expressed in his will

"The whole of my remaining realizable estate shall be dealt with in the following way: the capital, invested in safe securities by my executors, shall constitute a fund, the interest on which shall be annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind. The said interest shall be divided into five equal parts, which shall be apportioned as follows: one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery or invention within the field of physics; one part to the person who shall have made the most important chemical discovery or improvement; one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery within the domain of physiology or medicine; one part to the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction; and one part to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses. The prizes for physics and chemistry shall be awarded by the Swedish Academy of Sciences; that for physiology or medical works by the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm; that for literature by the Academy in Stockholm, and that for champions of peace by a committee of five persons to be elected by the Norwegian Storting. It is my express wish that in awarding the prizes no consideration be given to the nationality of the candidates, but that the most worthy shall receive the prize, whether he be Scandinavian or not."
R.K. Pachauri"s statement on behalf of the IPCC
While receiving this news about the award of the Nobel Peace Prize for this year, I would like to pay tribute to the scientific community, who are the winners of this award. The experts and scientists are the backbone of the IPCC and they provide the knowledge, which has contributed to the success of the IPCC.

I would also like to thank the governments of the world who support and facilitate the work of the Panel. I hope, as the Chairman of the organisation, I am articulating the sentiments of the entire scientific community in acknowledging the enormous appreciation implied in the award of the Nobel Peace Prize and this would energize all the scientists and experts involved in the IPCC to do even more in the future.
Gore's statement
I am deeply honored to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. This award is even more meaningful because I have the honor of sharing it with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change--the world’s pre-eminent scientific body devoted to improving our understanding of the climate crisis--a group whose members have worked tirelessly and selflessly for many years. We face a true planetary emergency. The climate crisis is not a political issue, it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity. It is also our greatest opportunity to lift global consciousness to a higher level.

My wife, Tipper, and I will donate 100 percent of the proceeds of the award to the Alliance for Climate Protection, a bipartisan non-profit organization that is devoted to changing public opinion in the U.S. and around the world about the urgency of solving the climate crisis.

Since Eli cannot resist irony, it is also interesting to note that
On November 27, 1895, Alfred Nobel signed his last will in Paris. When it was opened and read after his death, the will caused a lot of controversy both in Sweden and internationally, as Nobel had left much of his wealth for the establishment of a prize! His family opposed the establishment of the Nobel Prize, and the prize awarders he named refused to do what he had requested in his will. It was five years before the first Nobel Prize could be awarded in 1901.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A very thin reed

Tamino has an interesting post on Arctic and Antarctic ice extent. Now if you stare at the stuff long enough you realize that the maximum is pretty much always the same

but after a bit of thought, you realize that the Arctic is a closed ocean and it pretty much freezes completely over each year (PS the above only goes to 2000 and does not show the 2000 - 2007 decline. Tamino has the more recent information). Still, this is not completely the case, and analysis shows that even in the winter the ice area is declining.
we can learn even more by looking at maps of the maximum ice concentration from the National Sea Ice Data Center. The map on the left is from Feb 1979 and the one on the right from Feb 2007.

The major differences are in the areas north of the Norway/Russian border. But when we look at the minimum extent from 2007 we see that it is the area between Alaska and Siberia that is relatively clear of ice.

So, we still need to decide whether our bet with Belette is in carrots or in pounds. Hmm, maybe we are looking at the wrong thing. During the autumn and winter the Arctic freezes over, but HOW THICK IS THE ICE. The thicker the ice, the more heat needed to melt the stuff in the summer. The thinner the less.

There are not very many measurements of ice thickness trends for obvious reasons. The best come from Rothrock at the University of Washington who analyzed data from nuclear submarine cruises (Al Gore played a key role in getting these released). Here is what he came up with.

What is a bunny to do? Well we will chew a few carrots and keep a close watch on how rapid the freeze is and try and figure out how deep.

Monday, October 08, 2007

If you want a piece of Nordhaus to go with your Stern

Nordhaus and Shellenberger will be on line at TPM Cafe discussing their new book, Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility. Joseph Romm has already cut a slice.

What do Michael Crichton, Bjørn Lomborg, Frank Luntz, George W Bush (and his climate/energy advisors) have in common with Michael Shellenberger & Ted Nordhaus? They all believe 1) new “breakthrough” technologies are needed to solve the global warming problem and 2) investing in such technology is far more important than regulating carbon. . .

Why two people who say they care about the environment, Shellenberger & Nordhaus (S&N), embrace it, I don’t understand. Their instant new bestseller, unhelpfully titled Break Through — has already been endorsed by Roger Pielke, Jr. and Gregg Easterbrook and The National Review — ’nuff said. You can read all the misinformation you want from them online in their landmark essay, "The Death of Environmentalism” and recent articles in The New Republic (subs. req’d) and Gristmill (here and here).

S&N simply don’t know what they’re talking about. Worse, their message plays right into the hands of those who counsel delay. For that reason, I will spend some time debunking them. Here is the most dangerous S&N falsehood, from TNR:

"Over the last ten years, a consensus has emerged among energy policy experts–one no less important than the consensus among climate scientists that carbon emissions are warming the earth. What’s needed, they say, are disruptive clean-energy technologies that achieve non-incremental breakthroughs in both price and performance."

Uhh, no. Energy policy is my field, and I have talked to virtually all of the leading energy policy experts over the past few years. A few believe as S&N do (mostly academics), but the majority do not – especially those who are actual energy practitioners or who have taken the time to educate themselves on climate science. Yes, they all want much higher funding for clean energy R&D — who doesn’t??? (other than the phantom “pain- and-sacrifice-loving” environmentalists that only S&N seem to have met).

But the energy practioners know that meaningful breakthroughs rarely if ever happen in energy (a key point I will return to in the next post). I can say that with very high confidence since I ran the federal office responsible for doing the vast majority of the research into new carbon-free technologies.

Nordhaus and Shellenberger get their pony.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Those who don't remember history are doomed to repeat it.

UPDATE: For those not coming from there, Real Climate has started the ball rolling, gathering together all comments on the latest OISM paper. Please add your contributions there.

The bunnies at the bar (Eli has discovered a nice new one within walking distance of the lab, with Hoegaarden, Guiness and Pilsner Urquell) were wondering why the Robinsons have once again taken pen in hand. The Robinsons, as you may recall, together with Sallie Balliunas and Willie Soon are the major authors in the genre of climate fiction and fantasy. Their mangnum faux pas was the center piece of the Oregon Deception Project. As we mentioned yesterday they have done it again, without Sallie, who may have some limits. Mark Chopping brings word in the comments to Eli's post on the Oregon Deception Project .

They are still at it! I received a packge today (October 5, 2007). You would think that they might do a little research before mailing -- clearly they have $$ to waste. I will have to spend some time thinking about what to return in the postage-paid envelope.
So, debunking this thing with as much publicity as possible becomes an urgent matter. Into the scribitorium young mice. Eli is going to have another beer

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Before there was E&E there was JPANDS

The mice have spotted an undated version of the Soon Baliunas, Robinson and Robinson paper the Fred Seitz had mailed to accompany the OISM petition. This treasure appeared in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons under the name of the Robinsons, Art and Zach, father and son. How Idso of them. Sally and Willie are not on the paper, which leaves us with the hope that there was not enough money to pay them this time. If you miss them you can find the original at the Document Hotel a service of

Eli has downloaded the paper and is reading the thing (for this you should pay me big time), but here he just wants to point out that before Energy and Environment took over the title of Journal of Denial, JPANDS was there. It is open source, because they have to give the thing away.

JPANDS is the journal of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, an outfit founded in 1943 to fight the evil of socialism and especially anything that threatened the income of US physicians, the older brother of the John Birch Society as it were. The executive director, Jane Orient, is a Clinical Lecturer in Medicine at the University of Arizona, Tucson, and (hold on tight) Professor of Medicine for the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine. It appears from the description on their site, that like the Robinsons she bats from both sides for the wingnuts that hide in Arthur and Zachary's barn:

Professor Orient serves as medical advisor for the Institute's projects involving human health and disease. She is author of numerous books, including Sapira's Art and Science of Bedside Diagnosis, a widely used primary physician's diagnostic reference work.

Dr. Orient is President of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness and of Physicians for Civil Defense. In those capacities, she has worked extensively on Institute projects on civil defense. She is also author of two books on grammar and spelling included in the Robinson home school curriculum and of several sections of the curriculum's course of study, especially examinations in reading comprehension, grammar, and vocabulary.

BTW she pulls down $150,000 per year from the AAPS for 25 hours/week of work according to their tax returns, teaches at the University Medical School and is Professor of Medicine at OISM. Good work if you can get it.

FWIW, the version of the OISM SBRR (Stoat Syndrome warning) at VN appears to actually have been published in an Inter-Research journal called Climate Research. Inter-Research is another odd little group, but at least on its face serious. Have to grep the sucker against the uroriginal.

The sparrow brings word. .

Aethon and his friend the sparrow (thanks Jack) took a day trip to NYC and came back looking ashen. The bunnies are taking over.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Some new textbooks on-line

The folks at ODU who brought you the Stratospheric Ozone Textbook are busy little bunnies and have three additional offerings,

Monday, October 01, 2007


Jennifer Marohasy sheds the usual climate croc** tears for Pat Michaels, no longer UVa Climatologist and Eli gets mixed into the middle of it. He tried to post over there, but the guardians are chewing over his entrails and it was such a good thing that it bears repeating

Just to be clear, Eli has always been in favor of the State Climatologist Program, and has always said that it should be a fully funded program run by NOAA. What we got now is a bunch of folk jackassing a different program in each state by scratching up support when and where they could find it. When UVa was forced to pony up the funding, they said no thanks, see you later. This has a lot more to do with the sorry state of base science funding in the US than with Pat Michaels.

If you want to see Eli's views on State Climatologists you can in comments 14, 24, 29, 34, 47, 52, 60 and 64 on RP Sr.'s blog (now just an archive). You will be impressed by the non support the program has among the climate croc denialist crowd. As the Rabett said:

However, there are many places where the State Climatologist was simply appointed by a university Department Chair, often someone who managed to scare up the funding. Very often there are ad hoc arrangements. To the extent that State Climatologists represent themselves as speaking for an agency of the state on a policy matter they are bound by the policy of the state.
and, among other things
As for the State Climatology program IEHO it was a bad mistake for NOAA to have defunded it in the seventies. AASC would be a very good thing if, together with NOAA, it results in a unified data reporting system leaving enough room for special state interests.
Lord the kid can write. You know, practically no one, including RPSr. was at all interested in fully funding the State Climatology offices except yours truly. NONE of the regulars, including RP hisself cared about putting the State Climatology Offices onto a permanent safe footing, which made it crystal clear that they wanted the issue and not the solution. Fast forward to the surface sites harrumphing and you see the same thing. These are climate crocs** folks.

**To paraphrase Steve Pastis about our crocs, they are proud members of Mora Fora Meea, a fraternity dedicated to the destruction of every one but them, the crocodiles are our blogging neighbors. Stupid, slow and barely articulate, these particular crocodiles are a disgrace to their species.

Aethon has a new name and a new food source

That's all folks

From ufobreakfast a remarkable description of dinner (ok breakfast) with Eli's favorite denialists. Since you really should go there and read the whole thing (it is only a riotous paragraph long), Rabett Run will tease you with the last two sentences

Pielke Jr. and Sr. took the opportunity to note that politicizing science was a bad idea and Ebell asked Komanoff why he hated poor people. Crichton urged Ebell to “lambast the son of a bitch”, which woke Peiser, who agreed that Tim Lambert was indeed a son of a bitch. The debate went downhill from there.