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Posts Tagged ‘greenhouse effect’

Solutionizing And The Near-Death Of Watts Up With That

2012/01/17 19 comments

Recently, there’s been plenty of gnawing of climateblogging teeth for the silliest of reason. Simply, Willis “Rooster Cogburn” Eschenbach took umbrage of Tallbloke and posted at WUWT what was later revealed an act in some kind of psychodrama (with plenty of censored comments – my own comment to the latter, including a “GET A LIFE” exhortation, hasn’t has finally seen the light of day as yet).

Tallbloke has responded here and here. The end result has been that WUWT has apparently transmogrified into Climate Progress, after celebrating its 100M hit. Not sure how long I’ll hang around it, unless things change.

And the topic that has caused so much heating? If there is any gravitational explanation for the “greenhouse effect”. Cue millions of words written for nothing.

The actual problem as I see it is called “solutionizing”.

People tackle the problem of why bumblebees fly, some ideas are thrown around, those ideas are incomplete, so people come to the conclusion that since there is no solution to the problem, bumblebees don’t fly.

In the meanwhile, bumblebees fly. Back to square one.

In management circles, this is all pointed out as a fundamental error…the fact that you don’t have a solution doesn’t mean the problem is impossible to solve. It simply means you should concentrate on analysing the problem and in collecting more data, rather than immediately try to identify a solution.

For those harder in understanding, the observation is that independently from the composition of the atmosphere and the presence of a solid surface underneath it, every planetary atmosphere in the solar system has a “troposphere”, defined as the part where downward lapse rates are positive, i.e. temperatures increase as the distance from the top of the troposphere increase.

The same thing applies to any self-standing gas cloud anywhere in the universe. There is always a surface “below” which temperatures increase with pressure. Otherwise stars won’t ever ignite.

Now if this is because of whatever Hans has said, or N&Z, or it’s Tooth Fairies, that is not a question that will ever be answered in blogs (and especially, in their comment sections). But anybody stating that what the whole cosmos is alight by is “impossible”, they do have a problem telling truth from fantasy.

Do Climate Forcings Exist? Map And Territory In Climate Science

2011/09/22 2 comments

Some interesting ideas that are surfacing at Judith Curry’s “Cloud wars” blog post, leading to the conclusion that there might as well be no such a thing as a “pure” climate forcing.

A “pure” climate forcing (i.e. one that occurs only as a forcing to the climate system, not also as a feedback) is of course an independent input to the system. IOW it is an independent variable that will provide its “push” in a specific direction whatever the value of all other variables.

It sounds obvious (maybe not to the average Climate Believer) that a great deal of so-called forcings aren’t: clouds of course (both a forcing and a feedback, perhaps on different timescales); but also CO2 emissions (as noted by commenter Eric Ollivet), water vapor, and pretty much anything that happens in the atmosphere.

One is left with the influence of other planets, of volcanoes, and of course of the Sun. But are those true and “pure” forcings, really?

For example, who’s going to demonstrate that the atmosphere will respond predictably and progressively if the Sun input to it varies, and everything else remains equal? For all we know, the Sun could be a positive forcing up to a point, then negative, then positive again, or simply positive but by different amounts following a complex multi-step function that moves up and down, all according to the atmosphere’s initial status.

Actually, we can be pretty sure of all that complication, thanks to the Mpemba effect (and the Leidenfrost effect).

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Every reduction and simplification seems poised to destroy our ability to understand the climate itself. We might be ending up trying to apply statistics and/or computer models simply to distract us from the underlying truth: perhaps, in climate science, the only good map IS the territory. And the only hope to understand the climate, is by considering it whole.

Nuke The Toxic Humans!

2011/03/03 19 comments

Recent entries from the Warmist camp:

  1. Genghis Khan was good regarding CO2 emissions, in particular due to his mass-killing attitude
  2. Nuclear war is good for global warming, as it reverses it for a while (no prob there, we can start a new war when needed)
  3. Exploding people including children is good for action against global warming/CO2 emissions/climate change

Who’s going to join the dots and push the appropriate nuclear button, for the good of the planet of course?

The Weather Is Really Changing (In 1953) (plus Attributions and CO2)

2011/01/16 1 comment

Yes it’s another old New York Times article, this time from July 12, 1953. Stories of unusual weather, retreating ice caps, extreme events (at the time it was tornadoes). Yada yada yada.

Couple of interesting details. Journalist Leonard Engel provides a list of past attributions to human activities:

Unusual weather  inevitably stirs up speculation as to the cause, in part, no doubt, because we like to talk about the weather anyway. And prominent event coincident with the exceptional weather is apt to be blamed. Heavy rains during World War I were popularly attributed to artillery bombardments in France. During the Twenties and Thirties it was fashionably to lay abnormal weather (along with other odd occurrences) to changes in the sunspot cycle. Today the popular villains  of freak weather are atom-bomb tests and the activities of rainmakers.

Engel mentions also greenhouse gases and in particular the concentration of CO2

In 1850 the air contained somewhat less than thirty parts of carbon dioxide per 1,000 parts of air. In the hundred years since, industrialized, urbanized man has poured unprecedented quantities of carbon dioxide out of home and factory chimneys […] As a result, there are now thirty-three parts of the gas per 1,000 in the atmosphere instead of thirty.

Assuming Engel was just victim of some conversion mistake, and he meant 330ppm, it is curious to note that the figure is somewhat off Keeling’s original 1955 value of 310ppm.

A Crock At “Climate Crocks”

2011/01/08 2 comments

It’s all nice and dandy for “Climate Denial Crock of the Week” to mention a video with Isaac Asimov talking of the “greenhouse effect” as the “most interesting” scientific effect of 1988 (why, isnt’t that the year of the staged Hansen visit to the US Congress). It’s a different thing to forget what else The Good Doctor had to say, about science and everything. For example:

Science is uncertain. Theories are subject to revision; observations are open to a variety of interpretations, and scientists quarrel amongst themselves. This is disillusioning for those untrained in the scientific method, who thus turn to the rigid certainty of the Bible instead. There is something comfortable about a view that allows for no deviation and that spares you the painful necessity of having to think.

There is more, all of it blatantly incompatible with the mindset of consensus-obsessed AGWers:

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ (I found it!) but ‘That’s funny …’

Clarke’s First Law – Corollary: When, however, the lay public rallies round an idea that is denounced by distinguished but elderly scientists and supports that idea with great fervor and emotion—the distinguished but elderly scientists are then, after all, probably right.

I believe in evidence. I believe in observation, measurement, and reasoning, confirmed by independent observers. I’ll believe anything, no matter how wild and ridiculous, if there is evidence for it. The wilder and more ridiculous something is, however, the firmer and more solid the evidence will have to be.

Inspect every piece of pseudoscience and you will find a security blanket, a thumb to suck, a skirt to hold. What does the scientist have to offer in exchange? Uncertainty! Insecurity!

A New Treasure Trove Of 1970s “Global Cooling” Articles

2010/11/10 38 comments

Italian newspaper “La Stampa” has just put online its 1867-today archive (yes, it IS in Italian). What better chance (well, for me at least…) to explore the evolution of “global cooling” thinking in the 1970s beyond the usual English-speaking newsmedia? With the added bonus of plenty of names and other key words to use as…keywords for further research.

Very briefly: in the 15 articles I have found so far:

  • the popularity of scientists predicting an ice age is very clear up to the Feb 1979 meeting of the World Meteorological Organization
  • “upcoming ice age” is the meme du jour up to 1985 at least
  • there is a warmist slant in 1990 but strangely, the arguments of discussion are more or less the same still central to the debate in 2010

This collection strongly indicates that in Italy, like elsewhere, the average reader of newspapers would have had all the reasons to believe in a “global cooling consensus” for much of the 1970’s and even later.

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Here’s the article list:

1. June 22, 1976 (n.145, p.14): “Entro cento anni avremo una era glaciale” – “Within a hundred years we’ll get an ice age” by Umberto Oddone

  • Mentions Reid Bryson
  • “not all scientists agree”
  • a Cesare Emiliani from the University of Miami investigates 700,000 years of sea-shells Oxygen isotopes
  • icebreaker “Glacier” gets “stuck in the Atlantic”

2. June 27, 1976 (n.150, p.9): “Tra ghiacci e siccita'” – “Between ice and drought” by Umberto Oddone

  • Earth is “having a fever”
  • Bryson again
  • Cesare Emiliani and sea-shells analysis, again

3. Oct 19, 1976 (n.229, p.21): “Fra pochi anni inverni freddissimi – In Siberia spariranno i cereali?” – “Very cold winters within few years – will grains disappear from Siberia?” by Bruno Ghibaudi

  • 30 years of cooling trend
  • Not a new ice age but hard consequences expected for the USSR
  • Mentions Prok Nikola Volkov, Director, Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, Leningrad
  • Kara Sea temperature having dropped from -10C to -13C in 30 years
  • Nearby polar seas, decreases of 1 or 2C
  • Sea lanes to Murmansk and Arkangelsk closed by the ice in the early 1900’s, open in 1941-45, now 60% closed again
  • Two teams of French scientists complete research in the Antarctic.
  • Oxygen-isotope analysis indicates climate cycles, with a new cold peak in 3000AD and a warm peak in 9000AD
  • Mentions human influence, possible apocalyptic consequences
  • Recommends an international program to control climate

4. Feb 14, 1977 (n.29, p.3): “E’ giunta l’era glaciale” – “The ice age has come” by Alberto Rapisarda

  • Bryson again. Must have been very popular.

5. Jan 3, 1978 (n.1, p.3): “Si torna all’era glaciale?” – “A return to the ice age?” by Umberto Oddone

  • Mentions a new book “Climatologia” by Prof. Mario Pinna
  • Suggests getting warm clothes ready, for a few decades or for thousands of years

6. Apr 14, 1978 – (n.85, p.15): “Aiuto, arriva l’era glaciale” – “Help, the ice age is coming” (unsigned article)

  • “Many meteorologists” “convinced” about upcoming little ice age
  • Climate for 90% of the time warmer than at present
  • Causes of the cooling: disagreement
  • According to Juri Izrael, Hydrometer Service Director for the USSR: deforestation, landscape changes
  • According to James Hays of Columbia University and Nicholas Shackelton of Cambridge University: orbital changes
  • Hurd Willett of MIT mentioned as expecting lower temps
  • “Many meteorologists” of the opinion that “it’s all due to changes in the Sun”

7. Apr 27, 1978 (n.95, p.9): “Siamo alla soglia dell’era glaciale?” – “Are we on the edge of an ice age?” by Umberto Oddone

  • Mentions “18 known American climatologists” and a series of articles on Die Welt
  • North Polar ice cap increases from 1971 to 1978 by 12%
  • Antarctic ice mass increase from 1966 to 1967 by 10%
  • Global temperature down in 30 years by 0.5C
  • Mentions Bryson expecting a return to the little ice age
  • Mentions other climatologists as far more pessimist (“big” ice age) – work by the Impact Team headed by climatologist William Colby, former head of the CIA – “snowblitz”
  • Mentions Dansgaard
  • Mentions Calder as reporting the opinion of “not few” scientists

8. Jan 4, 1979 (n.3, p.4): “Sta per cominciare un’era glaciale – secondo meteorologi giapponesi” – “An ice age is coming – according to Japanese meteorologists” by press agency Ansa-Reuter

  • Mentions Junkichi Nemoto – University of Saitama – saying a “little ice age” is already underway
  • Mentions WMO conference in Feb 1979 in Geneva

9. Jan 9, 1979 (n.8, p.28): “Ma perche’ parlare di era glaciale?” – “And why all the talk of an ice age?” by Stefano Pavan

  • Mentions climate wars
  • Hubert Lamb, Alastair Woodroffe: snowblitz (snow accumulating by not completely melting by the end of the summer), 50cm/year

10. Feb 19, 1979 (n.48, p.3): “Cambia il nostro clima – Il mondo va verso una nuova era glaciale?” – “Our climate is changing – Is the world going towards an ice age?” by Fabio Galvano

  • Mentions the WMO Conference in Geneva
  • “400 climatologists” meeting to discuss how humanity can adapt to climate changes
  • Conference President – Robert White
  • Mentions some scientists as believing that Earth is moving towards an ice age
  • Mentions most scientists as believing that Earth is getting warmer due to human activities
  • Greenhouse effect from a sulphuric acid/ammonium sulphide “polar fog”
  • Mentions Stephen Schneider as expecting 2C-3C of increase in the temperate zones in 2050, as CO2 concentrations double. Mentions William Kellogg as expecting another doubling by 2100, with +6C
  • Mentions +20C at the Poles
  • Mentions the Amazon turning into a Sahara (Harry Knowles)
  • Geoengineering in the USSR proposed by climatologist Federov

11. Jan 20, 1982 (n.16): “Tranquilli, non e’ un’altra era glaciale” – “Keep cool, there’s no ice age coming” by James Wagner, National Weather Service

  • No ice age
from Piero Bianucci's Apr 21, 1982 article

from Piero Bianucci's Apr 21, 1982 article

12. Apr 21, 1982 (n.25, p. 3): “Questo freddo di aprile farà’ scendere i ghiacciai?” – “This cold in April will expand the glaciers?” by Piero Bianucci

  • Detailed temperature graph for the last 80,000 years
  • Mentions winter 81-82 as colder than 77’s, considered “coldest in the century” by “American climatologist”
  • Walter Orr Roberts and sun/drought link
  • Mentions Stephen Schneider, according to whom the “turnaround year” from a warming trend to a cooling one was 1972, a year with drought in the USSR, floods in Pakistan, and a delayed start of the monsoon season.
  • Mentions Lamb describing a “butterfly effect” on climate

13. Jan 30, 1985 (n.155, p. 2): “Dietro l’angolo c’e’ un’era glaciale?” – “Is there an ice age behind the corner?” by Stefano Pavan

  • Nicholas Shackleton, Cambridge University – shells analysis indicates a descent into an ice age – for 5,000 years, an accumulation of 50cm/year – “snowblitz”
  • Mentions Danish glaciologists as saying that summer insolation in the Northern Hemisphere has come down, and it’s lower than when 90,000 years ago there was a sudden cooling episode
  • Mentions Nigel Calder’s “The Weather Machine” with a long list of countries that would fall against the climate catastrophe

14. Oct 10, 1990 (n.436, p. 21): “Il clima cambia, ecco gli indizi” – “The climate changes, here’s the evidence” by Angelo Tartaglia
and
15. Oct 10, 1990 (n.436, p. 21): “I dati sono insufficienti” – “There is not enough data” by Stefano Pavan

  • Both articles could have been written yesterday, including skeptics at the MIT and computer models at the UK’s Met Office

Is This The Face Of Evil At The BBC?

2010/10/11 1 comment

 

He Who Questions Science

He Who Questions Science

 

Mukul Devichand…try to remember this name (well, it helps if you’re Indian, Welsh, or both)…why? Because Mr Devichand’s “The Spirit Level: the theory of everything?” programme on Radio4 tonight has surely been the most shocking BBC documentary since Oct 18, 1922.

You see, Mukul “Scourge of Science” Devichand HAS QUESTIONED A COUPLE OF SCIENTISTS’ THEORY.

The shock! The horror!

Yes, you’ve read it correctly. Rather than recording the usual regurgitated press release in order to reaffirm how any scientist that happens to be near a microphone is always right and always will be, Mr Devichand has done his job, what should be the normal job for every self-respecting journalist at the BBC and elsewhere: he has put forward interesting, probing, challenging questions to the scientists at hand, making sure the listeners understood the limits of the proposed theory, and going as far as to suggest some of the criticisms could be warranted.

Have you ever heard of a more evil person? (yes, I have)

The programme had no qualms in discussing the policy implications of the proposed theory, and didn’t try to paint opponents as anti-Science people. Finally, there was an open admission that (esp. in matters of public policy) things will always be interpreted according to one’s “heart”.

Is this an example of things to come? I HEREBY EXPRESS MY SUPPORT FOR THE PROMOTION OF MR MUKUL DEVICHAND AS BBC CLIMATE NEWS SUPREMO.

If only.

Just think, how many Jos Abbesses are out there, lurking in wait of another chance to metaphorically beat a BBC employee to submission at the first sign of doubt

A Genuine (Doom-laden) Website?

2010/07/26 1 comment

Connolley’s is just too algid. RC is just too onanistic. Tamino’s is just too quixotic. Skeptical Science is just too embarrassing (and for the wrong reasons). Desmogblog is just too self-contradictory. Greenfyre’s is just too impermeable to outside contributions. And so on and so forth.

Is there a genuine pro-catastrophical-AGW website out there where the basic tenets of debate and exchange of ideas are not seen as a backdoor for denialism? Perhaps there is: in “Science of Doom” one can even read about “why Global Mean Surface Temperature should be relegated, or mostly ignored“. And the post about the “lunar greenhouse effect” or lack thereof explicitly steers clear from the usual puerile mudslinging attempts of so many other websites.

Time will tell if SoD will slip down the activism route or provide a stable science-based counterpoint to Roger “I can’t believe my fellow AGWers behave so idiotically” Pielke Jr.’s.

Twenty Steps Of Climate Denial

2010/06/14 9 comments

Twenty Steps Of Climate Denial” is the title of my first-ever Facebook quiz. Ever wondered if you are a climate change denialist? Wonder no more! You’ll know it all in less than 21 questions!

And now for a bit of background: 99.9% of the questions and answers are inspired by the curious adventures of Roger Pielke, Jr., replying to a barrage of question by a “gonzo journalist” that is either quite disturbed or very good at appearing so (I prefer the latter).

For those that can’t stand Facebook, here’s the list of “questions”:

  1. Your mountaintop removal coal operation is filthier than a Tiger Woods text message
  2. You have considered at least once the possibility that global warming might be “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on mankind”
  3. You are a “junk science expert”
  4. After publishing an article of yours, the editor and half of Climate Research’s editorial board resign
  5. Your mission is to use arcane statistical analyses to break the “hockey stick”
  6. You are George Will, Roy Spencer, Marc Morano and/or admired by Glenn Beck
  7. You think global warming is basically a “political” issue
  8. You reluctantly admit that the earth is getting hotter, but insist that we’ll like the warmer weather
  9. You have called a gathering of activists in Copenhagen “Hitler Youth”
  10. Joe Romm dubbed you as the Most Debunked Science Writer in the Blogosphere
  11. You agree with this statement: “Post-normal science refers to situations in which knowledge is uncertain, values are contested and stakes are high.”
  12. You accept the scientific consensus on AGW, yet are often critical of climate scientists, for what you call “scientism” or “stealth advocacy”
  13. You have an article in Cato Institute’s “Regulation” magazine, or in “Energy and Environment”. Alternatively, you have worked for the George C. Marshall Institute or are a member of the House of Lords
  14. You are paid by the fossil fuel industry to lie
  15. You refuse to cap, trade, regulate or sufficiently tax carbon emissions
  16. Do greenhouse gases cause global warming?
  17. Does a hotter atmosphere mean more extreme weather?
  18. If not kept in check, will AGW be a source of increased costs of damage associated with hurricanes, floods, and extreme weather phenomena in the future?
  19. By dwelling on uncertainty, and implying that the science of climate change in some way is not “settled”, you have provided in the past a perfect excuse to do nothing
  20. You don’t renounce people like Anthony Watts

Venus Awakening

2010/05/07 9 comments

Steve Goddard in WUWT, May 7, 2010? Luboš Motl in the reference frame, same date?

Sure, but what about Omniclimate’s 4-part series starting Feb 27, 2008? (Here parts 2, 3 and 4)

Or Omnologos’ now ancient Aug 17, 2007 post?

Alas, there was some mention of it in a July 2007 Elsevier book. But who cares? What is important is that the stale orthodoxy about Venus’ “runaway greenhouse effect” is starting to dissipate.

As forecasted in “Venus Forecast” 35 months ago: “In a few years, the old ideas of Fred Singer will come back into fashion.

Venus’ retrograde rotation, incredibly massive atmosphere and relatively young (<500 million years) surface will be elegantly explained by the crash of a massive satellite half a billion years ago (with subsequent melting of much if not the whole crust, and humongous outgassing).

Current lead-melting surface temperatures will be just as beautifully explained by simple adiabatic processes.

The role of CO2 in the heating of the atmosphere via some “greenhouse effect” will be seriously reconsidered and almost completely dismissed.

UPDATE May 10: WUWT has a new post on Venus. Among the comments, a link to another blog making a similar point (Oct 7, 2009) and to a brief communication by Carl Sagan in the pages of the Astrophysical Journal (1967) estimating the surface temperature without a single mention of the “runaway greenhouse effect”.

‘Brain Farts’ And Other Tweets

2010/02/22 3 comments

(another collection of links from Twitter – this time not from my @omnologos account)

(this is for my reference as well as I have not read yet many of these links) Read more…

You’ve Read It Here First – Present-Day AGW Science Is A Walking Dead

2010/02/18 9 comments

Just had a pleasant conversation with a published European researcher of considerable experience. Can’t write any detail to back up my claim yet, but let me try to claim precedence. AGW theory is dead and I am not talking about politics here. A research institute is likely to let the wheels come off the wagon, at last.

Eventually, climate science will replace it with a new theory combining solar, orographic and hydrodynamical studies. The greenhouse effect will not be repudiated, rather downsized to a more appropriate status. When? Not before a lot of effort will come to nothing, and plenty of people will be killed, let to die or forced into poverty for no reason at all.

It took 80 years for the Ediacaran fauna to be recognized, 30 years for the Chandrasekhar limit to be accepted, 74 years for the Communist Party of the Soviet Union to relinquish power.

I envy the climate scientists of 2085.

Raypierre Still Doesn’t Get It

2010/02/15 11 comments

The guys at RealClimate have absolutely zero debating skills. That much has been known for a long time and has just been confirmed once again with a relatively weak blog containing incredible statements such as

Do the above issues suggest “politicized science”, deliberate deceptions or a tendency towards alarmism on the part of IPCC? We do not think there is any factual basis for such allegations

(stand-up comedy shouldn’t be far)

(yes, that blog is weak because it pivots on a mere handful of arguments, all of them at risk of being shown fallacious. The first one that goes, will carry the rest of the blog down with itself)

Those minimalistic skills are now spreading elsewhere, with the most simplistic of logical reasoning apparently beyond the grasp of “raypierre”, aka Raymond T Pierrehumbert. Next to Andy Revkin’s “Does an Old Climate Critique Still Hold up?” I had originally posted the following comment of Feb 10, 9:09EST (also available in my “Lacis, The IPCC, Simple Physics And Post-normal “Science”“)

34. Maurizio Morabito – February 10th, 2010 – 9:09 am
[…] (c) I’d suggest people drop the “Greenhouse effect is simply physics” argument. Simple physics shows that warm air moves upwards, and a room’s floor is generally colder than its ceiling. However, mountaintops are generally colder than sea-level locations. Why? Because the free atmosphere is a complex system where you can’t just apply simple physics (for a different example: think of anti-oxydants’ wonders in Petri dishes and the failure to translate that into effective anti-aging treatments in the real world) […]

I do think that the Petri dish analogy made my point extremely clear. Alas, not to all…

80. raypierre – February 10th, 2010- 9:20 pm
34. Maurizio Morabito —

No, Maurizio, we should not drop the argument that “the Greenhouse Effect” is simply physics. It IS simply physics. What needs to happen instead is that you and people like you either (a) take the time to learn a little physics yourself, or (b) lacking time, at least defer to people who do know the physics. “a” is by far the preferable option.

For example, mountaintops are colder than the lower altitudes because of the simple physical principle that gases cool when they expand rapidly enough. Convection moves the air upwards fast enough that the air cools. This kind of thermodynamics is taught in most good high school physics classes, and its atmospheric relevance has been understood since shortly after Horace de Saussure’s landmark studies of mountain meteorology in the early 1800’s.

The fact that your comment was recommended by 6 readers so far speaks volumes about the scientific ignorance of many of the readers who support your position.

Why oh why would the Louis Block Professor in Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago feel it necessary to demean himself with the last paragraph above, totally undeserving any reply, I will never understand. Obviously though, a career in Geophysical and Atmospheric Sciences may prevent people like raypierre from taking the time to learn a little cellular physiology.

Somebody did try to re-iterate my point:

88. Harry Eagar – February 11th, 2010 – 7:45 am
raypierre, a big time, scientifically qualified alarmist, sez: ‘For example, mountaintops are colder than the lower altitudes because of the simple physical principle that gases cool when they expand rapidly enough.’

I live on a mountain, 10,000 feet high. I’m at 1,500 feet. True, it’s colder at the top, but it’s warmer at 7,000 than at 1,500 feet (most of the time).

Climate and weather are possibly more complex that people like Raypierre would like hoi polloi to know.

No way…help for Prof Pierrehumbert was at hand next day:

109. Ivan Carter – February 12th, 2010 – 7:40 am

[responding to Harry Eagar] Raypierre says that mountaintops are cooler than at the bottom based upon known (and incontrovertible) principle of physics, and this commenter calls him out because ‘mountaintops are colder than the bottom’ because sometimes in between (thru short term warmth rising, I think, some of the time), the air is warmer than at the bottom.

Pierre didn’t give a full analysis of mountain climate, nor was doing so relevant. He simply gave an example of one specific point, correctly stated and which the commenter himself backed up, that was then manipulated into yet another irrelevant but apparently appealing attack upon RayPierre and scientists!

It is what is done on here, often more subtly, however, over and over and over again […]

By the way, Ivan: to state the truism that climate and weather are more complex than the individual effects at play, does not mean “to attack the scientists” any more than to point to the Ediacaran fossils didn’t mean “to attack the scientists”…just those scientists that prevented our understanding of Precambrian fauna for 80 years

And now for my latest reply. I have no hope raypierre, Ivan Carter or anybody thinking they’re characters in a Fort Apache remake will understand any of it. You see, even if they have lacked the time so far, surely they have never even thought of deferring to anybody that knows anything about movies, or Precambrian fauna…

115. Maurizio Morabito – February 14th, 2010 – 3:07 pm
raypierre (86) and Ivan Carter (109): my original point was that you cannot simply take one effect observed in the lab (for example, the greenhouse effect) and state that it will work as-is in the real world. In the real world, other effects will “sum up” to it, and the end result will be whatever it will be.

The existence of a GH effect is the _starting_ point in the investigation of what happens to climate due to GHG emissions, so it _cannot_ be used to _terminate_ discussions about global warming.

Hence my request to drop it as an argument, just like the existence of gravity doesn’t mean that flying is impossible.

Lacis, The IPCC, Simple Physics And Post-normal “Science”

2010/02/10 10 comments

There’s troubles with commenting at the NYT so I will re-post some of my notes to Revkin’s “Does an Old Climate Critique Still Hold up?” here:

(a) Given all the discussion taking place now, and the glaring mistakes obvious to all, it is apparent that nobody has ever read the IPCC report at a meaningful level of detail. A professional editor and a pre-established maximum number of pages should be there for AR5.

(b) I am not sure how to reconcile Dr Hegerl’s statement “We felt Andrew Lacis’ comment reflected that he couldn’t clearly see where statements came from, which is why we strengthened the pointers from the technical sections to the executive summary” with the note to Dr Lacis’ expert comment “Rejected“. Usually, rejected comments are not acted upon.

(c) I’d suggest people drop the “Greenhouse effect is simple physics” argument. Simple physics shows that warm air moves upwards, and a room’s floor is generally colder than its ceiling. However, mountaintops are generally colder than sea-level locations. Why? Because the free atmosphere is a complex system where you can’t just apply simple physics (for a different example: think of anti-oxydants’ wonders in Petri dishes and the failure to translate that into effective anti-aging treatments in the real world)

(d) Call me old-fashioned, but I find “post-normal science” a misnomer (almost, a case of reification). “Post-normal science” is not “science” and should be defined with a more appropriate moniker.

The Star That The Greenhouse Effect Forgot

2010/02/01 10 comments

And now for some relief from the “Gate du Jour” onslaught…

Obviously there will soon be a much better explanation, but isn’t it peculiar that regarding “what may be the coolest sub-stellar body ever found outside our own solar system” with “a temperature estimate of about 441° Fahrenheit (227° Celsius)“, the explanation for some strange “color” effect in different infrared pictures is that “the atmosphere is cool enough that methane and steam absorb the light coming from below“?

In my colossal ignorance, I had been led to believe that methane and water vapour were powerful greenhouse gases. And that they would make an atmosphere warmer than it would have been without.

Maybe only on Earth 😎

A Quick Note About Corbyn’s Solar Weather Technique Conference

2009/10/29 6 comments

Not many words out yet about WeatherAction’s “Climate Change, The Solar Weather Technique & The Future of Forecasting”, the conference organized by Piers Corbyn and hosted by the Imperial College in London on Oct 28. Amazingly, BBC’s Roger Harrabin just spoke about it during the midnight BBC Radio4 news, in rather neutral and very appropriate tones as far as I can remember (nothing has surfaced in the BBC News site as yet).

Myself, I have been able to get to the conference and back, just in time and only to hear Corbyn’s opening remarks, when he lamented the immorality of the mainstream obsession with CO2 and compared his work to longitude measurer Harrison, rejected by the scientific and political establishment for a long time despite being right and only winning acceptance by winning the acceptance and trust of users (the Royal Navy, according to Corbyn)

It’s All CO2! It’s All AGW!

2009/10/05 10 comments

There is a beautiful discussion going about “Hockey Stick Redux” (HSR), the Oct 1 entry of brand-new blog “Cruel Mistress – Being Human on a Harsh Planet” by Dr Ben Hale (I reached it by following Roger Pielke Jr.’s recommendation to visit “Cruel Mistress).

And that’s a great blog name, by the way…finally somebody recognizes how Earth is not made of fragile crystals and china…

Anyway…the beauty of the discussion is three-fold.

(1) Ben Hale is no AGW skeptic, and yet he has not imposed any censorship, whimsical or otherwise (by the way: let’s welcome Ben to the Joe Romm (dis-)Appreciation Society! – with Romm now openly toying with Fascist character-assassination techniques).

(2) For the time being, HSR is a place where AGW believers and skeptics can exchange disagreements rather than outright insults. One suspects, that is because of the absence of the “usual suspects”, the clique of self-appointed AGW True Believers, the Osama bin Climate‘s fond of censorship and coprolalia

(3) The HSR comment area is the best place where to see AGW skepticism at work, with plenty of nuances, disagreements, sentences at the opposite ends of some scales on the part of people that only agree that the AGW brouhaha is a wild overstatement. If that doesn’t disprove the cretin label of “Denialists”, I don’t know what will.

There are plenty of gems among the HSR comments (also some funny ones I have already written about). For example there is a great explanation by a PhysicsGuy (Oct 3, 10:31am) of what peer-review is and is not, and how it all went wrong regarding AGW, ending with the following:

To summarize, a pro-AGW paper being peer reviewed by other climate scientists is probably (like Briffa appears to have been) being considered favorably because of its results, is being reviewed by reviewers who know and often have co-authored with the paper’s writer, likely contains undisclosed data treatment that influences the result, is being reviewed by reviewers who do not have the mathematical background to spot subtle statistical errors, and is being judged on “conformity to accepted practices in the discipline” in a discipline that is evolving so quickly that the “accepted practices” themselves are not well validated.

I’m not sure that this kind of peer review means what many of us appear to think it does.

And now for one of my own little contributions. I have had an exchange with Ben Hale about my use of the slogan “It’s all CO2! It’s all AGW” as the defining one for the current scientific consensus/dogma on AGW.

Ben replied:

Are reputable people actually saying this? Even with my basic and flawed understanding of AGW, this is expressly not what people are saying. I call straw man.

That led me to elaborate more on the topic (see here and here and here). I am putting it all together below.

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The overwhelming importance in contemporary mainstream climatology of CO2/GHG warming, and of the human contribution to it, can be read in a Jan 27, 2005 blog (“What If … the “Hockey Stick” Were Wrong?” by stefan) on Real Climate:

The main reason for concern about anthropogenic climate change is not that we can already see it (although we can). The main reason is twofold.
(1) Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are increasing rapidly in the atmosphere due to human activity. This is a measured fact not even disputed by staunch “climate skeptics”.
(2) Any increase in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will change the radiation balance of the Earth and increase surface temperatures. This is basic and undisputed physics that has been known for over a hundred years.

The key words are main, concern, anthropogenic climate change, due to human activity. That is, RealClimate and (by simple logical extension) the scientific consensus on Climate Change, are concerned because human activities are increasing ghg’s (and especially, CO2) in the atmosphere.

What was the IPCC established for, after all, if not to investigate the warming effects of CO2/GHGs emissions from human activities? Here’s from the FAR (1990) as per Wikipedia:

…emissions resulting from human activities are substantially increasing the atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gases: CO2, methane, CFCs and nitrous oxide. These increases will enhance the greenhouse effect, resulting on average in an additional warming of the Earth’s surface…

The key words there are human activities, increasing the atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gases, additional warming.

Hence: “It’s all CO2! It’s all AGW!”…a slogan that has all the defects of a slogan (e.g. simplification), and yet conveys the two most important aspects of the AGW scare and dogma. “Most important” by a long shot.

Let’s look at how long a shot, from a purely logical point of view. What would happen if human activities would not be emitting CO2/GHGs? There would be no IPCC. What would happen had it been thought there were no AGW, Anthropogenic Global Warming? There would be no IPCC.

That is, CO2/GHGs and AGW are necessary conditions for the whole IPCC/AGW scientific consensus to exist.

What would happen if the only driver for climate change were human emissions of CO2/GHGs? There would still be an IPCC. What would happen if the only climate phenomenon of note were AGW? There would still be an IPCC.

That is, CO2/GHGs and AGW are sufficient conditions for the whole IPCC/AGW scientific consensus to exist.

Therefore, since CO2/GHG emissions and AGW are (together) necessary and sufficient for the IPCC and the AGW scientific consensus to exist, the IPCC and the AGW scientific consensus are for all intents and purposes exclusively dedicated to CO2/GHG emissions and AGW.

“It’s all CO2! It’s all AGW”. QED.

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That’s why, as remarked by another commenter “MrPete”, the “primary policy push” is about GHGs, and in particular about CO2.

In a saner world, in fact, we would have gone a long way already to eliminate that other, and shall I say even more established source of climate change and untold numbers of respiratory diseases and deaths, namely soot. And especially the soot generated by primitive cooking stoves.

It is one of the biggest tragedies of the AGW consensus: we could have in a month a 10-year worldwide plan to physically eliminate all human emissions of soot at a relatively minor cost…look instead how many person-years are being wasted for a Copenhagen deal that everybody well knows it will be ineffectual and costly at best.

But what can we do? After all…It’s all CO2! It’s all AGW!

When Is A Climate Satellite Not Exactly A Climate Satellite?

2009/09/17 3 comments

I have just been at a beautiful presentantion at the British Interplanetary Society in London, by Jessica Housden of EADS-Astrium about the upcoming ESA “EarthCARE” satellite (beautiful especially to us engineering boffins that is).

Designing a Spacecraft to Observe Climate Change

Understanding of the atmosphere is a continual process, with scientists all over the world endeavouring to determine how our atmosphere works and how it is changing. One such mission, EarthCARE, will be observing several processes which will help scientists. How will this be done and how will the spacecraft work?

Jessica Housden is a systems engineer for the EarthCARE mission, which will observe water content and aerosol distribution in the atmosphere.

Ms Housden said that EarthCARE, designed to look at clouds and aerosols, will be up there for 4 years from around 2013 (don’t bet your house on that though…there’s lots to learn before it can actually fly).

Upon hearing that I suddenly realised something confirmed during the Q&A session later: the climate-change EarthCARE satellite is not exactly a satellite to study the climate.

For a start, 4 years are way too short a time to see what climate is doing, let alone to see it changing.

You see, EarthCARE is a climate-change satellite. Its measurements will be used to (surprise, surprise!) help climate modellers improve their models (as everybody knows, clouds have been particularly badly modelled up to now).

After all, that’s what it “says on the tin” (“Spacecraft to observe Climate Change“, not “Climate“). Nothing to fault EADS-Astrium for…still, I suspect in the upcoming future one will have to be careful about this apparently minute distinctions.

What about the Climate then? Well, EarthCARE would be a good starting point. For example one of its instruments is designed to measure incoming and outgoing fluxes, thereby answering many of the questions we still have about the planetary energy budget.

But you’d need a constellation of EarthCAREs for proper climate research, perhaps 5 or 6, if only to observe a particular spot more than once a month. And you’d need also a steady supply, to have enough of them up there despite the relatively-short 4-year lifetime.

SciDev.net’s Plea: Get The Science Straight!

2009/09/16 2 comments

Questioning the soundness of climate-related science should not be the realm solely of climate skeptics. That’s what makes the following even more welcome.

Get the science straight on climate change and disease – Climate change’s complex links with insect-borne disease need solid research — not alarmism that distracts from other crucial factors

That’s the start of a courageous, no-holds-barred Sep 9, 2009 editorial by Sian Lewis on SciDev.net (“a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to providing reliable and authoritative information about science and technology for the developing world“).

In normal times, Lewis’ words would sound obvious in the extreme (and no: SciDev.net is not a hotbed of hard-core AGW skeptics – read also this). But these times of “climate porn” (see also here and here) are not normal times at all.

A few excerpts from Lewis’ article:

  • research agendas must both respond to social needs and offer good science
  • fulfilling the second condition is more tricky
  • There is clearly a link between insect-borne diseases and climate
  • But a whole host of non-climate factors also influence disease transmission…
  • So we mustn’t go overboard, reading too much into the role of climate change at the expense of research into other triggers of these major diseases
  • good science is crucial for good policy
  • The task is urgent — but this must not lead to short-cuts

The editorial is an introduction to

a series of articles [that] explore the evidence for (and against) the notion that climate change will worsen the burden of insect-borne disease, highlights gaps in our knowledge, and provides advice to policymakers

Interestingly, given that

how well models can predict these effects is a particularly thorny issue in the debate“,

then

the solution, according to Jonathan Cox, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, is to forget predictive modelling for the moment and focus on research with a better chance of improving disease control“.

“Forget predictive modelling”…if only!!

The Funnier Side Of Monbiot & Schmidt’s “Plimer Débâcle”

2009/09/15 11 comments

It is clear that George Monbiot has made himself the loser by not agreeing to publicly debate with Ian Plimer about global warming in London in November. The rule is very simple and universal: a no-show is invariably a loss.

The whole thing looks like an elaborate trap prepared by experienced debater Plimer with the goal of convincing Monbiot to run away from the debate. And it looks like it worked.

Talk about the elephant being afraid of the mouse. Yet again, one is glad not have the likes of Monbiot (and Schmidt) on one’s side! 😎

But wait…it gets even funnier. What I just wrote might have crossed a few minds already, of people unfortunately too eager to bite the bait, therefore missing the chance to take their own reasoning to its natural conclusions:

  • Take Schmidt’s blog on the topic, where he argues that Plimer’s list of questions “is quite transparently a device to avoid dealing with Monbiot’s questions and is designed to lead to an argument…” and then…marches on onto the device regardless!
  • Greenfyre defines Plimer’s questions as “pure juvenile bafflegab” that should not be “dignif[ied]…with repetition“. Perhaps. Why then repeat that very same concept FOURTEEN times? It certainly looks like dignifying them to me
  • Greenfyre even identifies as “possible answers…to answer them in the spirit in which they were asked…give answers equally convoluted and nonsensical“. If that is so, what is the meaning of going on and on with links to sites where Pilmer’s questions are taken instead at face value?
  • Likewise for Tim Lambert: “I suspect that this is a tactic so he can weasel out of answering Monbiot’s questions” before a link to RealClimate to respond to Pilmer’s questions nevertheless…
  • Chris Colose appears to have a vague idea that there is something going on: “all together this is jumbled up nonsense and shows that Plimer is intentionally trying to mislead others“. Mysterious cue then to “for other of Plimer’s questions, I’ll let commenters tackle those“. Isn’t that a way for Colose to participate in the misleading?
  • Tamino…well, Tamino is obviously too superior a human being to recognize a thing.

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Dear Schmidt/Greenfyre/Lambert/Colose: one suggestion if I may dare.

If you are debating with anybody, and they use any logical device of any kind, please oh please DO NOT follow through along the device, for any reason whatsoever.

Otherwise, it’s not going to look pretty…

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