Thursday, November 25, 2010

Something to do

Tom Wigley guest posts on Brave New Climate asking what if we stopped emitting CO2 by 2050.

Also an article in the NY Times about the consequences of sea level rise in Norfolk VA. Here, although the city is above sea level, in places it is barely, and small changes result in frequent flooding. This includes lunar tides. The sea does not have to rise very much for the costs to go pretty close to a hell of a lot, since many cities, and areas of cities are pretty close to sea level.

“The fact is that there is not enough engineering to go around to mitigate the rising sea,” he said. “For us, it is the bitter reality of trying to live in a world that is getting warmer and wetter.”
UPDATE: Eli missed this because he was reading Chris Colose's comments over at Curry's blog, but he has an excellent comment bearing on who is a denialist and what dogma is
As for “skepticism,” it’s an unfortunate circumstance that the label has inherently been given a bad name on the blogs. This isn’t because of intolerance toward debate as much as the large number of people who criticize the science, or even declare conspiracies and fraud, with an apparent willingness to mislead or ignorance of the subject. THIS EXISTS. It’s not dogmatic to point that out. It’s not dogmatic to point out that people like Pat Michaels or Tim Ball or Chris Monckton have lied to people, or that institutions exist to undermine credibility with no cares for advancing the science. Thus the term “denier” has formed. What’s more, it’s very easy to separate these type of people from a legitimate scientific skeptic, or a curious student, from the mere structure and flow of the argument upon casual inspection


John Farley said...

About 10 or 15 years ago, the cover of Science or Nature showed a future map of Washington DC, with big portions flooded because of a rising sea level. I assume the editors were hoping to grab the attention of Washington officials.

-John Farley

Anonymous said...

Little mouse thought that even if we stopped CO2 emissions today temperatures would continue to rise for some considerable time. Tom Wigley's graph shows temperature falling immediately after CO2 emissions cease.

Do we not hear that there is warming still in the pipeline for existing emissions?

We are still expecting nature to absorb a large proportion of what we emit. But paleo evidence is that once temperatures rise nature becomes a net source of CO2. Is it not inevitable that gamma will increase?

The article in the NYT shows how not to tackle sea level rise. Very expensive short term fix.

I am not a scientist, maybe I have it wrong.

Anonymous said...

Little mouse:

1) there has long been a confusion between "stopping CO2 emissions" and "stabilizing CO2 concentration". The former is actually much more stringent than the latter: oceans and ecosystems will continue to take up CO2 for a while after emissions stop, and therefore concentrations will drop to a level between that of today and that of preindustrial. If you look at the figure in the linked page, concentration itself peaks in about 2040, and has already dropped 10 ppm from that peak in 2050 when the last of the emissions disappears.

"warming in the pipeline" usually assumes constant concentrations, not zero emissions (though if CO2 emissions were dropped to zero tomorrow, and all other emissions were held constant, I'd probably expect a little bit of warming before it turned over and started dropping)

2) Don't forget aerosols: they are following the Level 1 scenario from Wigley et al. 2009, and may actually dominate short-term temperature trends.


BillD said...

Sorry, I don't understand this graph either. Should there be some units of time? Stopping emissions is not likely unless most humans are gone. My understanding is that it will take a drastic reduction in emissions just to stabilize CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

EliRabett said...

Bill, the x-axis is TIME/years.

Same Ordinary Fool said...

THE NYT MISSED IT..........The front line won't be at the water's edge, but at the city limits. Those who own land on high ground in the city can't escape the increased property taxes needed to pay for the consequences of actual sea level rise, and the reduction in property values, and the general economic decline.

People will still want to live there, but won't want to buy that hillside house that will probably continue to decline in value. Houses that can't be sold will still have significant rental value. So Norfolk will become a city of renters.

Anonymous said...

I think the second quote is pretty perceptive--and a healthy corrective to the abuse of "skeptic" as a label of pride for misinformed nonsense-- as a philosopher, I have too much respect for real skepticism to accept this abuse of the word. Following the back and forth even a little does reveal lots of telling asymmetries, so long as you have a decent nose for argument and evidence. Sadly, a lot of people are more sensitive to what appeals to them ideologically, arguments and evidence be damned. But the utter incoherence of views presented by deniers gives the game away even so (it's cooling, it's warming but the sun is responsible, it's warming but some unknown natural cycle is responsible, the 'greenhouse' effect violates the laws of thermodynamics, but somehow the energy radiated back to the surface by the atmosphere simply vanishes, there is a greenhouse effect but negative feed-backs make it negligible, &c ad nauseam). Somehow disputes don't arise between them: all their fire is directed at 'warmists', never on other factions of deniers. The conclusion is clear enough: there's no inquiry going on there, no effort to find out what's happening, just a desperate attempt to avoid some undesirable conclusions. As we learned long ago from Galileo, that's not how to find out what's going on out there...


Anonymous said...

If it is the same Bryson that I have read with such enjoyment, may I propose that as an author with such a tremendous outreach that you might bend your will to communicating the problems of climate chaos? Pardon me if I have got the wrong end of the "Bill".


J Bowers said...

How about... skeptick, plural skeptickz. It seems right at a glance, but on closer inspection it's very wrong.

And they can't use victim-bullyhood with denier.

PolyisTCOandbanned said...

This is OK, but I would also like to see a thought experiment of what happens if we stop emissions immediately. Granted it's impractical, but it gives us some feel for what we've done so far, how fast nature takes up CO2, how much warming is in the pipeline. The given example does so also, but confounds with a scenario of what we build up from now until 2050.

clearscience said...

Chris makes an excellent point. I can be tolerant of "true" skeptics but the word denialist is the way the rest SHOULD be described because they are in a state of denial when the accusations of fraud come out...

bob said...

there's a strange puzzle here, I haven't figured it out:

How to explain that strange recurring annual pattern in google searches for "carbon dioxide"?

Anonymous said...

Snow Bunny says to 'bob'

The chart of annual searches for "carbon dioxide" bears a strange resemblance to that of students doing homework.

seamus said...,+picture+frame,+school+bus&ctab=0&geo=all&date=all&sort=0

seamus said...

I get it now. JC's strategy is to get everyone bogged down in debate over semantics. What a waste of time.

wv: dednes

EliRabett said...

The spike at the end of 2009 marks the theft of the CRU emails. As to the rest it is as the peace of God to Eli.

Anonymous said...

Judith Curry adds another blog about climate change.

The nett result to advancing the decision about climate change? Absolutely nothing. All we see is yet another source of confusion.

Anonymous said...

J Bowers, I agree with Eli and Chris Colose. It is time and past time for the climate field to recognize and use the concept of denialism. It denotes something important about our world. Note that it does not mean total literal denial of something (as in "It is not happening, period.") But there is some conclusion (usually related to someone's profits) that no one must be allowed to conclude. If someone objects to the term, explain that it is a technical term used for good reason.

Re Climate, first recall the standard ABC of environmental denial:

A. It isn't happening.
B. (since not everyone will buy A) it is not our fault. [in the present case, the cause is anything but CO2]
C. for added confusion, argue ridiculously that it will be beneficial or at least harmless so why worry?

The absolute bottom line is that no one must be allowed to conclude that there is sufficient reason to do anything that might reduce fossil fuel profits.

Some think deniers are inconsistent because they argue A, C, and several versions of B. If you understand that the aim is not to reach a correct view of nature but to avoid a conclusion contrary to some other concern, you can view the deniers as consistent.

Pete Dunkelberg

Anna Haynes said...

> How about... skeptick, plural skeptickz.

Spellcheckers will re-confuse.

How about Potemkin Skeptics? akin to Potemkin heretics...

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

How about "idjits"? Dunning-Krugerites? Ideological wingnuts? Remember, folks, we are talking about folks who, with almost no knowledge of a subject, reject the wisdom of those with decades of experience in the field. That doesn't sound smart to me.

Anonymous said...


Sorry, I'm not Bill; 'Bryson' is my first name. Though I too would be delighted if he'd take it on... his 'Short History of Nearly Everything' was a lot of fun.


Anonymous said...

I've personally seen what a moderate Nor'easter does to the Norfolk area. It's pretty frightening. One important note though, for the NYT article, is that not all of the flooding is due to sea level rise. The particular neighbourhood featured has also sunk due to being built on landfill. By my hand-waving estimates about 4" is due to sea-level rise and 8" is due to the settling of the ground. Nonetheless, it is an important harbinger of things to come with regards to mitigating the effects of sea level rise.

For a frightening graphic, check out the storm surge map for the Hampton Roads (Norfolk) region: