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All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

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  1. One Planet Only Forever at 15:12 PM on 2 September 2014
    Keystone XL: Oil Markets and Emissions

    This issue highlights the reality that the currently developed global financial, industrial, and trade systems cannot be expected to 'lead to the development of a sustainable better future for all'. All signs point to 'something' needing to be done to change what is happening. Yet the decades pass without anything significant being done.

    The impacts of the XL pipeline would be irrelevant if it were determined that the Oil Sands are undeserving of being part of the buried hydrocarbons that are allowed to be burned.

    It is clear that to develop a sustainable better future there must be a limit on the benefits people can get for themselves in their time. But the system that has developed is all about encouraging the attempts of people to maximize the short-term benefit they can get without a concern for the future, or even a concernb for the current day impacts. The future is an easy target to harm because it has no vote, no buying power, and no legal recourse.

    As unpopular and unprofitable and impossible as this may sound one solution would be for the global community to collectively agree to an evaluaton of all the buried hydrocarbons we have located and know how to extract and burn. The evaluation would measure the impacts of each resource per unit of end-user energy obtained for comparison. The impacts would not just be CO2, they would be all impacts. The different resource promoters have already done a lot of the leg-work for the comparisons. All their internal data and their deceptive marketing pitches would contain the majority of the required data. All their information would just need to be evaluated by a team of scientists, like the IPCC. Then the resources could be ranked from least impact per unit of end-use energy obtained and the resources that add up to something like a 1.5 degree C limit would become the resources that can be extracted. And all the resources below that line would be quickly, but rationally shut-in with an expected impact of approximately 0.5 C as they are curtailed bringing the total impact to 2.0 C .

    This approach would mean that regions and investors that gambled on benefiting from the high-impact operations that don't make the cut would "lose their bets". Someone has to lose. Those who still have high-stakes gambles on getting away with high-impact actvity deserve to lose. Game-on.

  2. What I learned from debating science with trolls

    On a side note, "ideal temperature" differs by organism, by mass (larger prefers cooler), by metabolism (ectothermic prefers warmer up to about 40 C, endothermic prefers colder), and by specific adaption (polar bears prefer cold, thermophiles prefer hot).  Because different organisms will respond differently to changes in temperature, rate of change in temperature becomes a relevant factor.  For example, trees, ceterus paribus, do better with warmer than typical north american summer temperatures, but beetles do even better still so that the net effect of warming is devestating to trees - at least in the short term.  Consequently rates of change in temperature greater than 0.01 C per century sustained over multiple decades would be net harmfull to ecosystems regardless of whether or not they are net beneficial or harmfull after several thousand years of adaption.

    Given all of the above, the question "What is the ideal global temperature" is too simplistic even assuming it is intended seriously rather than as a rhetorical ploy.

  3. What I learned from debating science with trolls

    Ashton @39, the GHG contribution to recent warming (since 1950) has been 138% +/- 63% (90% confidence range).  The total anthropogenic contribution has been 108% +/- 19%.  The combined contribution of all non-GHG anthropogenic factors was -38% +/-54%.  Negative contributions indicate that the factor would have cooled temperatures in the absense of other effects; while contributions greater than 100% means that absent some cooling effect, the factor would have caused the warming to be greater than that observed.  The large uncertainties for GHG contribution and Other Anthropogenic (OA) contributions are not independent.  A larger GHG contribution implies a more negative OA contribution, and vice versa.  The PDFs of the three factors is plotted below:

    Like the figures for the total anthropogenic contribution in a recent Real Climate post, these figures are derived from the AR5 WG1 figure 10.5.  There figures differ slightly from mine.  They round the mean estimate of total anthropogenic contributions up to 110%, and give a 90% confidence interval of 80-130% compared to my 89-127%.  I am not sure of the reason for the difference.  It may be due to aggressive rounding of the 95% confidence interval mistakenly attributed (84.7-130.8% by my calculation), or to an error on my behalf.  The difference is not large enough to be relevant for internet discussions.

    This information has been in the public domain now for a year.  Sufficiently accurate equivalent information has been in the public domain since 2007 (AR4).  I do not see any skeptics/deniers accepting their "question" as having been answered.  Rather, I see either concerted efforts to obfusticate (a la Curry) or outright dismissal of the figures because they come from the IPCC.  The reason is simple - it is not an answer that sits comfortably with skeptics'/deniers' ideology. Granted a small percentage of skeptics/deniers may be simply scientifically confused, but polls show that most adhere to a right wing economic ideology - in many cases an extremist right wing economic ideology; and an astonishingly large percentage of their leading lights have direct connections with righ wing think tanks.  By objective measure, it is opposition to the findings of the IPCC that is politically motivated - not acceptance.

    I think this example, chosen by you, shows very clearly that AGW "skepticism" is not based simply on having some relevant questions unanswered.  That is only a plausible supposition if the questions have in fact not been answered.  

    Further, in this case, the straightforward answer of the IPCC that it is 90-100% certain (ie, "is very likely") that "More than half of the observed increase in global mean surface temperature (GMST) from 1951 to 2010 is ... due to the observed anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations"  is more than sufficient to give mitigating AGW a high policy priority.  Quibling because exact mean and range estimates are not given in executive summaries is plainly an obfusticatory tactic, ie, it is trolling.  This is particularly the case given that the more detailed answer can be obtained by simple maths from that same report.  (I assume that somebody genuinely interested in a more detailed result would do the maths themselves, or at least consult the figure to obtain the mean and 90% range of temperature contribution, which requires no more than a pixel count.)

  4. What I learned from debating science with trolls

    Ashton

    In this debate, it is not only the quality of the arguments that are important, it is also the quality of the questions asked. Your question, what is the optimum temperature has no meaning when you consider the temperature gradient across the planet from the equator to the poles, between the hemispheres and between the ocean and the land. Also,  the context of the question is important.

    Perhaps, you need to explain how increasing greenhouse gases are NOT going to warm the planet and change the climate? Also, you need to explain why these greenhouse gases are at least 40% above the norm of the past million years, even through the ice ages and inter-glacials,  particularly since we have seen this increase occur in under 200 years when normally, in the past, such a change would take thousands or tens of thousands of years. Also, you need to explain why we are seeing a change of 2 ppm annually, which again is unprecedented prior to the industrial era? What is different today that these changes are happening  if they are all occurring naturally? Magic or do you think all the scientists who have observed these changes are just fudging the figures? You could also answer, how burning all the known reserves of fossil fuels and increasing greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere back to the age of the dinosaurs, considering that the Sun's radiance level was at least 10% lower at that time, could possibly be good for the global climate considering that this was the climate that allowed us to evolve into who we are today?

    Answer those questions and show that it is all just natural and then perhaps you will be taken seriously.

  5. Keystone XL: Oil Markets and Emissions

    Oil and Gas are very hard energy sources to replace, but coal is the easiest but economically and politically it does not look so easy. For some reason some countries either produce a lot of it or use a lot of it and it employs a lot of people, and makes money for producers and consumers. I always felt that technologically coal was the easiest to replace, its a baseload power source and hence there are lots of suitable alternatives available such as wind, solar, solar thermal, nuclear, tidal, wave and gas etc but as they grow so does demand and globally coal usage is not slowing at the rates needed if at all.

    we need to clean up our grids to zero coal or CCS coal.

  6. What I learned from debating science with trolls

    In my experience, the Galileo Gambit most frequently arises in the context of the "science doesn't work by concensus" myth.  "The consensus in Galileo's time," trills the troll, "was that the sun went around the earth.  Galileo stood alone against that model."  My response takes a somewhat Socratic approach: "How do you know Galileo was right?  Have you yourself peered through a telescope and done the various orbital calculations?  I'm guessing not.  I propose that you learned he was right by reading science texts, which represent the aggregate opinion of modern astronomers.  In other words...consensus!" 

  7. What I learned from debating science with trolls

    It's isn't the science that's frequently in question.  The argument is about "selling newspapers," "garnering alliances," and individual and social power relationships.  Humans, chimps and baboons do it along with all other primates, and that's the dynamic in play.  For better or worse, factuality is frequently a wallflower in the great social debate.  It always has been.

  8. What I learned from debating science with trolls

    Ashton (or the fake skeptics he represents): "What is the optimum global temperature?"

    Optimum temperature for what?


    Before you respond, I'll point out that the question is irrelevant.  It's a rhetorical ploy designed for those who don't understand the central problem with global warming.  There is an optimum temperature range for life on planet Earth.  The danger from global warming is the rapidity of the change in temperature.  Now that you're included in the group the meme targets, perhaps you might want to do a bit more reading before simply acting as a parrot for those who design these sorts of ploys.

  9. What I learned from debating science with trolls

    Ashton @39.

    Good of you to volunteer to role-play for this thread on trolling. In citing Ólafsdóttir et al (2013) as some form of evidence for the existence of "long term cycles in natural phenomena such as in the NAO and AMO" that may or may not have played a significant role in recent warming, did you manage to read it? If not, you may find this bundle of 2 studies useful as it is open access and includes the Hvítárvatn study.

    Also note that the "clearly isn't 100%" message assumes all those devilish natural wobbles don't go and all cancel themselves out, which they probably would do at some point in time, just as they would at times produce a net cooling resulting in an embarrasing +100% AGW contribution.

  10. What I learned from debating science with trolls

    There's a few strawmen around in this discussion perhaps the most egregious of which are that sceptics/deniers claim there is no climate change and/or all climate change is due to natural causes.  Obviously I haven't met every sceptic/denier but based on the comments from those that  I have, the sceptics/deniers view on climate change is:

    "of course climate change is happening it has been happening since the earth began"  and

    "of course CO2 from the burning of fossils fuels is contributing to climate change in addition to the contributions from natural causes"

    A question  that sceptic/deniers often ask is what percentage of climate  change is due to the burning of fossil fuels.  Various scientific bodies have stated: "Humanity is the major influence on the global climate change observed over the past 50 years." (American Geophysical Union 2013}.  This doesn't of course specifically address burning of fosil fuels aa deafforestation and other activities are covered by this sweeping statement.  Others state "anthropogenic contributions are significant." (American Medical Association2013), "the dominant cause of the rapid change in climate of the past half century is human-induced increases in the amount of atmospheric greenhouse gases", (American Meteorological Society 2012) and the IPCC states "“Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely* due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations"

    Clearly these august bodies do regard burning of fossil fuels as contributing significantly (as indeed do the sceptics/deniers I have spoken to) but do not put any sort of a figure on how much this contribution is.  Consequently it seems a fair question from sceptics/deniers as to what percentage is due to human activities.  It clearly isn't 100% else unless the roles of the AMO and PDO and other natural factors is nil and taking the change over 50 years may not exclude long term cycles in natural phenomena such as in the NAO and AMO (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277379113001145)

    Another question asked by many of the sceptic/deniers I have met is"What is the optimum global temperature?"  Most sceptoics/deniers are aware the global temperature in  the Mediaeval Warm Period may well have been cooler than today but that doesn't answer the question of what is the optimum.  

    Naturally, I expect this post to be classed as trolling and if so, so be it.  But uncritically dismissing sceptics/deniers as trolls is perhaps not justified.

    I don't think that has been answered above.  Other questions are"What is the ideal global temperature

  11. What I learned from debating science with trolls

    It might be interesting to challenge deniers to try and convince us "warmists" that Co2 in the atmosphere isn't rising by 2ppm per year and the science that proves Co2 creates warming is false. Given that they won't be able to a more revealing question might then be to ask them why they would want to deny something so well proven. All weather forecasters should include current Co2 levels as part of their forecasts. At least that might start a few million people to actually start thinking about the issue. The biggest problem at the moment aren't the deniers, it is the total lack of interest the majority of people have in the subject. Those of us who argue about it are still a minority of the population.

  12. 2014 SkS Weekly Digest #35

    The link "The EPA’s limits on emissions are important but not enough" is broken

    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Link fixed. Thank you for bringing this glitch to our attention. 

  13. Temp record is unreliable

    Okay Tom, understood in the context your analysis.

  14. citizenschallenge at 14:56 PM on 1 September 2014
    What I learned from debating science with trolls

    Michael J. I. Brown wrote up at Broken logic:

    "There’s no reason for natural and anthropogenic climate change to be mutually exclusive, and yet climate change deniers frequently use natural climate change in an attempt to disprove anthropogenic global warming."

    ~ ~ ~

    It reminded me of a bit of a dialogue I had going with a contrarian --

    This character insists that: "The null hypothesis, is of course, natural climate change explains all observed climate change." ~~~

    my response: "To begin with this "null hypothesis" doesn't make any sense because if we look at the situation from a geophysical perspective there is nothing unnatural about today's increasing greenhouse gas levels causing our atmosphere's insulation ability to increase, in turn causing our planet to warm.

    It is only the source, human burning of fossil fuels, that is unique in the long varied history of our planet.

    It would be interesting if K or any other science contrarian can suggest a more meaningful null hypothesis, since his is broken." ~~~

    whatsupwiththatwatts.blogspot.com/2014/08/falsify-this-what-contrarians-ignore.html

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Everything humans do is acting upon "natural patterns" and there is nothing "unnatural" with rapidly increasing greenhouse gases sending the planet's weather system into higher gear.

    We are injecting extra energy/heat/moisture into huge geophysical entities, that we call "patterns" to help distance ourselves from the reality of what our planet's global heat distribution engine is all about. 

  15. What I learned from debating science with trolls

    chrisd3, I have had exactly the same result when using analogies.


    It's not just climate skeptics, but applies to anyone who has a view that can be easily demonstrated to be silly via an analogous concept.

     

    Another 'tactic' I have seen, is 'forgetfulness' (which may be intnetional or the brain protecting itself from dissonance). I've managed to extract concessions from skeptics at times, and then a week later have them repeating exactly the mantra that they acknowledged was flawed.

  16. What I learned from debating science with trolls

    Andy @ 33


    If you re-read my post (above) you will see that I said that the way to *start* is to determine what the sustainable population level would be if everyone had the same level as the European middle class. I don't think it's unrealistic to think that the third world would not aspire to that.

    Also, I don't think that bringing down the overconsumption (and who's to define that anyway) of the West to a hair shirt level is (a) necessary or (b) desirable and/or (c) remotely possible by democratic means.

    If a "sustainability study" had been done before the industrial revolution it might (and I'm just playing with numbers here) have come up with a population of say 5Bn. Starting from here and now, with the historical consumption of energy and resources, it might be 3Bn. In any case, I would bet quite a bit on it being well short of 9Bn odd.

    Frankly, efforts to reduce CO² emissions sufficiently to avoid tipping points are not going to work unless population is the prime target, or possibly unless the third world is to be kept at a very low standard of living.

  17. Temp record is unreliable

    scaddenp @320, I agree.  However, in caclulating the correlation coefficient, the mean of each time series is subtracted from each value in the time series.  Therefore the correlation of absolute temperature values and temperature anomalies will be the same.  That is why in calculating the comparison to closest neighbours (as in my third graph @311) it is important to use anomalies, as I did.  That is what I did do, although I failed to state it.  In contrast, in calculating the correlation coefficient (as in my second graph @316) it is irrelevant whether you use anomalies or (as I did) absolute temperature values.

    As I said before, I should have mentioned that I was using anomalies for the neighbour comparisons, but it is irrelevant for correlation coefficients (the point on which you raised the matter).

  18. Temp record is unreliable

    Tom, it's a subtle point, but temperature anomaly is difference between temperature and the long term average for the station. So a station on by the sea and a station high on a hill might have very different temperatures, but the difference from a long term average at each station will be very similar. That is what I think was missing from your discussion.

  19. Temp record is unreliable

    scaddenp @317, as the temperature anomaly is derived by subtracting a constant value from the temperature, the correlation of anomalies and temperatures is the same.  What is true is that the average of nearby stations does not predict the temperature at a given station, but the rather the average of the anomalies of nearby stations predicts the anomaly at a given station.  Although I did not specify it, I have used the anomalies in my neighbour comparisons.

  20. What I learned from debating science with trolls

    There are a surprising number of claims that the heliocentric model was not central to Galileo's trials. While Galileo definitely didn't do himself any favours via his combative style, the interpretation of the bible and Solar System was definitely central to his trials.

    For details see translations of the original documents (e.g., in "The Essential Galileo").

    A useful introduction is also available at http://vaticanobservatory.org/research/history-of-astronomy/54-history-of-astronomy/the-galileo-affair/370-the-galileo-affair

  21. Temp record is unreliable

    A very slight correction to Tom's work-

    "the correlation of temperatures with distance."

    It should be the correlation of temperature anomalies with distance.

  22. Temp record is unreliable

    Ashton @314, that report is certainly off topic on this thread, and introducing it looks remarkably like introducing a new line of attack to me.

  23. Temp record is unreliable

    Ashton @313:

    1) Scientific studies have shown that correlation between neigbouring temperature records are high out to a distance of 1200 km.  That is unsurprising given the average size of weather systems found on synoptic charts:

    In this case, the 10 "nearest" neigbours used were all within 55.1 kms of Amberley.  I have since expanded that to the twenty "nearest" neigbours, which are all within 93.4 km of Amberley.  Given that, it is hardly surprising that the running 11 year correlation between Amberley and the mean of the twenty nearest neighbours is 0.71, nor that the number would be significantly higher except for an excursion down due to the 1981 inhomegeniety and another around 1963 due to an inhomgeniety at UQ Gatton:

    You are are either simply mistaken about the distances involved, or you and your friends are misinformed about the correlation of temperatures with distance.

    2)  The distinction between weather and climate has no bearing on this topic as it is short term fluctuations in temperature we are concerned about.  However, it need not be daily temperatures.  My analysis with BOM data has beed done with annual means to make the analysis easier, for example.  Monthly means are more commonly used for this type of analysis.

    3)  We are given many reasons for the repetition of denier memes on this site, and the most common is "I was just asking a question/seeking clariffication".  Try as hard as I can, however, I cannot see the question or request for clarrification in the following (from your comment @305):

    "More questions regarding the treatment of temperature data by the BoM which is not coming across at all well in the MSM. It really does give one cause for pause in blindly accepting that what they say is gospel."

    (My emphasis)

    4)  I cannot comment on the Gaurdian, which I do not read.  The Australian, on the other hand has four types of stories on climate change.  They have the stories in which they report a denier/skeptical point of view in which the denier/skeptic is quoted but no comment is sort from mainstream climate scientists.  They have the report of major climate change news (release of IPCC reports etc) that they have to cover, in which the news is reported together with a denier/skeptic take on the news.  They have reports of mainstream science fed to them by a denier/skeptic with a ready made criticism by said denier/skeptic which is given most prominence.  And they have the reports on some stated (often inaccurate) problem with renewable energy.

    Sometimes they are subtle.  On one story on sea levels, there "mainstream" contact was in fact a "skeptic", and they failed to contact any genuine mainstream scientists on the subject, even though one of the world's top five scientists in that field is based in Australia.

    You may regard that as reporting "on both sides of the AGW debate" but I cannot help but notice that even on the mainstream news items, the denier point of view is given the most prominence.

    Further, we do not consider a newspaper reputable if it reports "both sides" of the 911 conspiracy theories.  In many cases in which The Australian reports both sides (including this one), the "skeptic" side which is given most prominence by The Australian has as little merit as 911 trutherism.

  24. What I learned from debating science with trolls

    Wol @28

    I disagree that cutting emissions is harder than reducing population growth. According to Hans Rosling we have already reached "peak child" or  at least "plateau child": there are more or as many children alive to day than there ever will be in the future. Population will continue to grow, perhaps to 9 billion, because today's children will inevitably become parents. The great news is that nearly every country is now appraoching low numbers of children per women. If this continues, then population should stablize around 9-10 billion.

    In contrast, emission rates continue an upward climb and nobody has a clue where the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere will plateau and when the rate of emissions will equal the rate of absorption in the oceans and biosphere. Population almost certainly will increase by 30-40% and then likely stop growing. CO2 concentrations could more than double and there is no sign of the growth curve bending downward yet.

    I agree that it is hard, probably impossible, to imagine 10 billion people in the future living the way we do in rich countries today. But it does not follow that that the lot of the poor cannot greatly improve, while the wealthy scale back our often wasteful and extravagant ways. Technology is no panacea, but, if history is a guide, there are grounds for optimism. The Malthusians have been wrong before and let's hope that they will be wrong again.

  25. What I learned from debating science with trolls

    My experience with trolls encompasses both climate change deniers and evolution deniers. Their most common tactic is to denounce any and all scientific, evidence based statements as religious justification for obtaining government grants which are themselves evidence of a gigantic conspiracy involving all the world's scientific societies as well as individual scientists. Anything you say in response will be attacked in similar terms. All this delivered with scathing invective and plenty of ad hominem rhetoric. There is simply no way to break through to them since they have already rejected the logical, evidence based way of reasoning that we take for granted. Whether they do this for personal, religious reasons or because they are in the pay of the fossil fuel interests is impossible to say and frankly, does not matter. Their object is to sway public opinion against science and scientists by relentless, unending assaults. Responding to them merely fuels the fire and may be seriously counter-productive.

  26. citizenschallenge at 23:48 PM on 31 August 2014
    What I learned from debating science with trolls

    About Galileo, if anyone is curious about what the Catholic historians have to say about that specific:  www.catholic.com/tracts/the-galileo-controversy

    ~ ~ ~

    The logic has always amazing me since Galileo was battling a dogmatic faith-based organization.  On top of that a little closer look reveals someone who was looking for a fight and found it... more a case of ego than the sanctity of science was involve.

    But then buried in there is the implication that science and religion are somehow synonymous - a balded faced lie they don't mind boostering with all the creative cynical word-play at their disposal. 

     

  27. PhilippeChantreau at 23:48 PM on 31 August 2014
    Temp record is unreliable

    Ashton at 313,

    There is no such as thing as "both sides" of the "debate." The so-called debate consists of on one side, the science, on the other, people saying the science is wrong without doing any of the work to prove it. Or people saying the science shows things that it doesn't show. Or people organizing harassment campaigns against scientists coming to conclusions they don't like. That is a far cry from a debate.

    I'm not sure what you're otherwise saying but it sounds like "I may be taken for a ride but what choice do I have?"

    Really?

  28. citizenschallenge at 23:34 PM on 31 August 2014
    What I learned from debating science with trolls

    I understand that SkS's REPOST feature is gone.

    But SkS still has the CreativeCommons and sharing/reposting policy in place... right?

    I'd love to repost this article - 

  29. What I learned from debating science with trolls

    One of the most curious tactics used by trolls, amongst others, is the absurd strawman. For example, claims that scientists have ignored the influence of the Sun on climate. It is trivial to disprove this by looking at the discussion of "forcings" in the IPCC reports.

    Examples of this tactic can be easily found on twitter: https://twitter.com/search?q=climate%20%22the%20sun%22&src=typd (although this search mostly finds unrelated material).

  30. What I learned from debating science with trolls

    I am in the same position as Christopher Gyles (above) and am as frustrated as he with the "tactics" (my quotes) of the deniers, most of whom seem completely devoid of any knowledge of the scientific method: indeed, seem proud of the fact.

    However, TV, the press, blogs and - shamefully, this site - almost without exception avoid the BIG elephant in the room: population.


    Far too many of what might be loosely called the "green" lobby are resigned to cutting the West's consumption of energy and raw materials generally. I think we are all approaching the resource, and CO² question from exactly the wrong end: surely the way to start is to ask what is the population that the planet can sustain indefinitely, with every member of the human race having a reasonable standard of living? ( Say, for the sake of argument, that of a middle class European's lifestyle.)

    I suspect that the answer would be far short of the 9Bn plus that is forecast for 2050 - and almost certainly far short of the present 7Bn.

    In this context, CO² and consequent global warming is only one of the massive problems rapidly approaching. There is no realistic prospect of Western communities volutarily reducing their lifestyles to that of the majority of the world's people and to be honest I don't see that would do any more anyway than kick the can just a few yards down the road.


    Controlling population is the key, but if you think cutting emissions is an uphill battle it's nothing compared with fighting THAT elephant.

  31. Temp record is unreliable

    Tom Curtis, this may well be struck out as off topic.  I'm in the UK at the moment where the Mail on Sunday, a widely read but sensationalistic newspaper has reported on Arctic sea ice.  I don't read this paper as I think it is a "rag" but as my attention was drawn to the report by local radio I looked at it on-line.  You yourself might care to do so to see just how the MSM can sway the climate change debate.

  32. Temp record is unreliable

    Tom Curtis.  Thanks for you very extensive comment, you certainly provide chapter and verse.  It is very impressive.  What I and possibly others, think about homogenisation is that in our daily lives we would not consider the temperature on a particular day from a site very distant from our own location as having any relevance whatsoeever on the temperature we ourselves will experience on that day.  I can see however that that comment shows I'm not distinguishing between weather and climate.  But in all of this particular debate it is the temperature on particular days that is the subject of discussion.  With regard to your comments to the moderator.  I haven't responded in detail as I don't have the experise that you clearly do,  to assemble the relevant data in a time frame that fits into my working life.  And as for shifting the "point of attack" as you put it, I don't have any "point of attack".  I read stuff in the MSM and from time to time, post my, admittedly superficial, observations hoping that those such as yourself will provide a more expert analysis of these obsertvations.  Mostly my hopes are realised.  However many readers of the MSM don't do this but accept what they are told without any further thought or follow-up. Should I follow their example? Perhaps I should and  perhaps that is why the more sceptical side of the climate debate is still not entirely convinced by the arguments put forward by its proponents.  Yes, I do read the Australian, a paper that reports on both sides of the AGW debate.  I also read The Guardian, a paper that reports on only one side of the debate.  I don't regard articles in The Australian as being any more accurate and relevant or, conversely,  more readily dismissable than those in The Guardian and  vice versa.   

  33. Temp record is unreliable

    Just realized I failed to include my footnote for the preceding post.  In it I referred to the "homogenized" data for BEST.  Strictly speaking BEST do not homogenize the data.  Rather, they break up records were they recognize an inhomgeniety, and treat the two records as distinct.  The resulting long term record is a "break point adjusted record".  Here, for example are the breakpoints for Bourke:

    And the breakpoint adjusted record:

    And the same for Gayndah:

    You will notice that except for the initial period, the adjustments to Gaynday reduce the trend.

    And finally, for Rutherglen:

    Those, with Amberley, are all the stations I have seen Marohasy cherry pick todate.  As this is clear evidence that a simple algorithm in fact produces results inline with those produced by application of BOMs distince simple algorithm (and the GHCN's algorithm, which is very similar to that of BOM, though differing on several points), no doubt Marohasy will now accept these adjustments in line with her comments about pre-1910 Bourke temperatures.  Or perhaps not.

  34. Temp record is unreliable

    Ashton @310, the article for which you provide a link just rehashes the same allegations, except for Bourke.  Curiously it draws attention to high temperature prior to 1910, as Marohasy notes in her address to the Sydney Institute, "Temperatures before August 1908 were apparently not recorded in a Stevenson screen".  Indeed, they may have been recorded on a Glaisher stand, or simply on a thermometer kept within the post office.   The site info notes only that an alcohol thermometer of unknown type was installed in 1871.  Ironically Marohasy suggests that "the Bureau could easily apply an algorithm to correct for this", but it is a bit hard to device an algoritm for temperature records from a thermometer of unknown manufacture, operated in an unknown environment, and read by various postmen of unknown training.  Further, (and here is the irony), we know how Marohasy responds to BOM algorithms that do not give her the message she wants to broadcast.

    As to the MSM, the MSM in question is The Australian, which has a well known inability to report accurately or fairly on climate science.  This is epitomized by the extended period when a cap and trade scheme was the favoured policy of the then Labor government in which for about a year, the Australian ran an article in the opinion pages on the issue every day, and managed to find next to zero such articles in favour of the policy (and less than 10% of articles by people other than AGW deniers).  On climate science (as on many issues) the appropriate comparitor for The Australian is the Soviet era Pravda.

    This propaganda approach to "reporting" is shown to be in full force by Friday's article, "Bureau of Meteorology told to be more transparent" in which Graham Lloyd reports the stale knews that a 2011 peer review told the Bureau to be more transparent about its proceedures, but neglects to report the 2 year old news that BOM published in 2012 a freely downloadable PDF detailing it homogenization process along with a host of other information about the ACORN network, and the review itself.  I assume supersleuth Lloyd only published on the review because he did not know about it prior to uncritically running Marohasy's story.  Don't, however, expect him to catch up to the 2012 developments, however, because they run counter to the angle he is pursuing.

    Speaking of the PDF on homogenization, it contains this fascinating figure showing a histogram of corrections to maximum and minimum temperatures as a result of the homogenization process:

    Does it not astonish you that with all her close scrutiny of temperature records, Marohasy has not managed to report on one adjustment that has lowered temperatures?

    Of course, the timing of the adjustments is relevant in one way, so they also show the adjustments by decade, which are about even, with a spike of positive adjustments in the 1960s, and a large spike of negative adjustments in the 1990s.  (That is right, the highest rate, and proportion, of negative adjustments is in the 1990s.)  In another way, the timing is irrelevant because the mathematical proceedure used in homogenization (which has been fully described in a scientific paper) does not look at the effect on trends.  It has an effect on trends.  It causes some trends to increase, and others to decrease (although the later entirely escape Marohasy and Lloyd's attention).  Further, overall, the effect does increase trends relative to the raw data.  But that effect is the result of a mathematical algorithm that is blind to trends.  The change in trend is not a factor in the algorithm in anyway.

    If Marohasy were interested in a scientific critique of the BOM's results, she would look in detail at that the algorithm used by BOM to make the adjustments.  She would try to show mathematically how it is not blind to trends.  She would look at the overall statistics of adjustments, discussing records which had the trends changes downwards as well as upwards.  When she doubted a particular adjustment, she would discuss it in detail - not merely handwaving about multidecade trends of just one nearby station (as she does for Amberley).  She does none of that - and the reason is that if you even start doing any of that you see she has nothing to argue.

    So she cherry picks, knowing that gullible fools will believe what is convenient without appropriate scrutiny.

    Speaking of cherry, picking, here is the 120 month running average of the Amberley Mean monthly temperure from BEST, minus the regional expectation (ie, the temperature estimated for Amberley using local stations, but not Amberley):

    As can be seen, the BEST "homogenized"(1) Amberley result sits comfortably above the regional expectation until the 1980s, when it drops like a stone and stays well below it.  This comparison is not how either BOM or BEST check for inhomogeneities in the data, but it clearly shows that in 1981 something extraordinary happened to the temperature record at Amberley.  (The spike at the end is an artifact of my not having as yet deleted the averages that overrun the data, as you can see by the data running on to 2012.)

    Using BOM's minimum temperature data for the 10 sites with reasonable length of records closest to Amberley, I calculated a similar value:

    These are annual values.  The erraticness of the line is partly due to the small number of comparitors, which drop down to for some time periods, but are around seven or eight in 1981.  Again the Amberley record plummets in 1981.  You will notice that the Brisbane Regional Office (Brisbane Reg) rises sharply around 1969, an inhomgeneneity that would require a downward adjustment if it were an ACORN site (it isn't in that period, although its data is used rather than Brisbane Aero prior to the 1940s). 

    More importantly, Brisbane Aero shows no inhomgeneity in 1981.  Rather, it shows a smaller inhomgeneity around 1987.  This is important because it is the negative trend of Brisbane Aero that Marohasy points to suggest the negative trend in Amberley minimum temperatures is due to a regional change.  That was unlikely in the first place because of the sharp nature of the change; but even the site Marohasy chooses as showing a similar change in tempertures does not show the change of temperatures at the same time.  Therefore they do not have the same cause.

    Had Marohasy been interested in a serious scientific critique, she would have investigated and shown that herself.  That she obscures the difference in timing of the reduction in temperatures between the two stations with handwaving rather than bringing it out shows her clear intent is to obfusticate and deceive.

    (To the moderator, Ashton has not replied in detail to the posts showing Marohasy's claims to be without substance.  Rather, he has merely shifted the point of attack to stations that have not been examined in detail.  It takes time to do the detailed analysis, so I am not going to do it station by station as Marohasy cherry picks her way around Australia.  I suggest that any attempt to simply publish another cherry pick by Ashton should be regarded as sloganeering.  I invite him to respond in detail, but simple avoidance should not be acceptable.)

  35. US State Department underestimates carbon pollution from Keystone XL

    Moving on to the question of the materiality of the oilsands on emissions. Proponents of new fossil-fuel infrastructure often like to emphasize to very small effect that any single project will have on global emissions and temperatures. Meanwhile, when looking at the benefits, these are looked at in local terms. We might hear that project X will provide (say) 20,000 new jobs in Alberta, Texas or Queensland. Never do we see that expressed as employing 0.0003% of the world's population. However, nobody sees anything wrong with saying that the emissions of (say) 100 million tons of CO2 per year are a mere 0.3% of the world's emissions, deeming it a drop in the bucket.

    Now, 20,000 jobs would be a significant boost to the Canadian economy and not something anyone would sniff at. If we look at the emissions in a Canadian context, however, they start to look significant, too. (These figures are taken from an article on my blog and are slightly modified from Environment Canada originals.)

    Note that these are just the upstream emissions from producing the oil sands oil, not from the combustion of the exported product. The projected increases from the oil and gas sector swamp any progress to be made in electricity generation.

    Here is what it looks like relative to Canada's own emissions targets.

    The black line shows the expected emissions. The dashed green line (added by me) shows where we would be going without further oil sands expansion. The brown line shows the government's own target. The red line shows what might have happened if we imagine that Canada had a government that was even more environmentally reckless than Stephen Harper's. 

  36. US State Department underestimates carbon pollution from Keystone XL

    Russ,

    I certainly agree that there should be an end to all fossil fuel subsidies. However, most of the direct subsidies occur outside of developing nations and are focussed on petroleum products and gas. All theses images are from Brad Plummer.

    None of this is within the political control of our governments and is well beyond the influence of climate activists. People often scold anti-pipeline activists for a lack of attention to coal. Coal is the big beast of climate change, it is true, but removing direct fossil-fuel subsidies would do little to affect coal consumption, because the subsidies are so small.

    Once we start to look at the full subsidy, by including a $25 per tonne of CO2e charge for climate damage, then we start to see much bigger numbers and much bigger slices attributable to rich countries (blue) and bigger amounts aimed at coal.

    Applying this tax and getting rid of the effective subsidy is within the theoretical power of our governments and would make a big difference to emissions. In fact, if this policy was in place globally I would likely drop my opposition to new oilsands infrastructure. Probably, whatever I decided to do would be moot, because a global carbon tax would reduce demand and price new carbon-intensive bitumen projects out of the picture.

    Now, you are rightly concerned about tax leakage, as one country charges a carbon tax while its trading partners get a free ride and a boost to competitivity by not charging one. This would not be easy to solve, but a border fee could be imposed on imports within WTO rules, at least according to this presentation via the Citizens' Climate Lobby.

    Having said all of that, getting a carbon tax introduced with our current governments in advanced economies appears to be a very long shot, although I will continue to lobby and vote for it. In the meantime, I will continue to focus part of my energy on stopping individual infrastructure projects. At least we have a fighting chance to score a win there on KXL and the pipeline projects through BC to the Pacific.

  37. Temp record is unreliable

    Tom Curtis and KR you ar eboth quite correct and I apologise unreservedly for my sloppy assessment of the piece I read.  That said, have you read the piece in the Weekend Australian (http://tinyurl.com/l3r5zs4)?  More questions regarding the treatment of temperature data by the BoM which is not coming across at all well in the MSM.  It really does give one cause for pause in blindly accepting that what they say is gospel. There does not appear to be any affiliation with the Heartland Institute or the fossil fuel industry.

  38. US State Department underestimates carbon pollution from Keystone XL

    KR@ My question was more about ,what will these green eng built with?

  39. US State Department underestimates carbon pollution from Keystone XL

    I rather think Russ R is referring to subsidies as identified by IEA, and frankly I agree. I think you also need to tax the external cost of CO2 damage with pigovian tax on carbon. You dont need to make other jurisdictions follow suit - you just impose carbon tax at the border unless the importer can show cast-iron guarantees that the good is carbon-free or carbon tax paid at same level as domestic.  That way, large consumer economies like the US become a force for change in countries that export to them.

    It doesnt need to be perfect to be effective.

  40. Christopher Gyles at 06:25 AM on 31 August 2014
    What I learned from debating science with trolls

    As a science-friendly layman, I must admit I am pretty disillusioned by the whole commenting experience, especially on popular media sites such as Yahoo Science, which seems now to be almost exclusively occupied by trolls,  human or otherwise, spewing a wide variety of psuedo science, homespun homilies, and flawed arguments.

    Is there any reason not to be pessimistic after reading Popular Science's comments discontinuation rationalization, Brossard and Scheufele's NY Times piece, the Monbiot pieces on industry-financed and computer-generated trollery? How does one debate a computer program or even know the difference? I began commenting for the possible benefit of any impressionable casual readers who might have been getting misinformed otherwise, but if it's true that just one firmly stated ad hominem or negative implication by a denier can pretty much invalidate the whole logical component of the debate, what's the point of persisting with it - especially against such great numbers?

    In my Southern California community, the "skeptivist/denialist" propaganda strategy is clearly working. In our junior college it's practically impossible to find anyone in a trade department who doesn't believe that AGW is nothing more than a political ploy and tax-raising scheme. One automotive instructor even spends a whole lecture period each semester railing angrily against the evils of "emotional tree huggers" and "politicians," and utilizing every denialist talking point imaginable to convince his students of the "massive fraud" of global warming.

    I would like to believe I can make even a small a difference, but it's getting increasingly more difficult.

  41. What I learned from debating science with trolls

    The Ostrich
    As a species I sometimes wonder if we most resemble the ostrich. If we duck our heads, ignore the problem for long enough, it will just, maybe, hopefully, please, go away. Or perhaps our approach is more like Bill Clinton's solution to gays in the military - don't ask, don't tell! After all, if nobody talks about it, it isn't there, is it?
    My brother-in-law, a house painter and his friend, who is working in the Alberta oil patch sum it up this way: "it's been about 150 years since the Industrial Revolution and we've done this much damage to the environment. We might get another 100 years out of it all."
    At a church luncheon, a fellow parishioner relates to me his experience of reading about the poisoning of the St Clare River at Sarnia. "I was there the night the company put that stuff in the ground and supposedly sealed it off." There was pain in his eyes and no doubt, in his heart and in his soul. I stated that it was amazing how many people I speak with, ordinary people, blue collar workers, who understand that we are gradually destroying the planet. He casually observed, "there will be a revolution."
    It's hardly unlikely that for some inexplicable reason, I am the only guy who has these conversations. It is more likely that most of us see the truth for what it is. We are gradually, speeding up, speeding up, speeding up, destroying the very planet that gives us life. Suicide or madness? Take your pick, I can't figure it out.
    I wonder who our political leaders talk to? Do they have these conversations or are they shielded for their own protection? They don't appear to be losing much sleep about it all as the oil companies drill away, as the auto manufacturers continue to turn out the gas combustion engine, as poisons are released into our rivers, lakes, oceans, landfills - anywhere the millions upon millions of barrels of poisonous waste can be hidden for awhile. Long enough, they hope, to finish making the money, packing up and leaving the deadly stuff behind. Perhaps, like Chernoble, the animals will have another paradise, free of humans, in a future that may be as inevitable as the prediction of my house painter friend - a hundred years or so.
    Is it possible to change a future that is rushing towards us virtually unhindered except for sporadic demonstrations and vocal minorities who are often perceived as "radical", "inhibiting progress", "tree-huggers", "terrorists", "trouble - makers", etc? Most days are like today - I simply have no idea whether we have the rational or empathetic ability to slow down, stop and possibly reverse the race to the "end of the human race."
    Joe Wiseman
    Citizen

  42. US State Department underestimates carbon pollution from Keystone XL

    RussR @9:

    "Here's one that I would be strongly in favour of: Stop ALL government subsidies. All of them. Every single one. When people pay the full costs of their consumption, they'll consume less."

    OK, let's start running through the subsidies:

    1)  Restrained government borrowing to keep low interest rates is a subsidy of large borrowers (corporations primarily). 

    2)  "Limited Liability" is a subsidy of investors at the expense (primarilly) of small business, subcontractors and employees.

    3)  The low inflation economic target (as opposed to targeting neutral inflation over the business cycle, including periods of deflation) is a subsidy, again primarilly of investors at the expense of wage earners, retirees and people who save by deposits in banks or matresses.

    4)  Corporations are a subsidy for investors at the expense of all other sectors of the ecnomy by allowing investors to bargain as a monolithic block, thus greatly enhancing their bargaining position.

    5)  The requirement to prove harm to obtain compensation from anybody or corporation who dumps substances into public space (including the atmosphere) is a subsidy for polluters.

    So, Russ, have you signed up to get rid of these subsidies?  Made your local member of congress aware that you won't support them unless they eliminate corporations and limited liability from the statute books?  Or is this talk of opposing "all subsidies" just more hypocritical libertarian claptrap that really just comes down to opposing only those subsidies from which they are not major beneficiaries?

  43. PhilippeChantreau at 03:48 AM on 31 August 2014
    US State Department underestimates carbon pollution from Keystone XL

    Russ R says: "Stop ALL government subsidies. All of them. Every single one. When people pay the full costs of their consumption, they'll consume less."

    This is obviously nonsense. Since the resources of the goverment comes from the people, the people do pay for all of their consumption, one way or another. It works more this way: people pay taxes, some of that money is given to private companies producing something that these comanies can then sell cheaper than if they weren't receiving government money, making them viable or competitive enough to exist.

    My experience is that, regardless of political belonging or ideological leaning, the ones who run the companies benefiting from subsidies are always in favor of these subsidies and never believe that "smaller government" should imply less subsidies for them.

    I note this about the tar sands: we are trying there to squeeze out every little last drop by any mean imaginable, including the total destruction of surface landscape in the case of the tar sands. That's called desperation. Anybody with a clear mind can see that it is already past time to move away from a no longer viable solution when desperation sets in. Of course, some will want a chunk of whatever wealth can be derived from desperate measures. Others will advocate for it out of obscure ideoligical reasons. It doesn't make it right.

  44. Climate Change Impacts in Labrador

    The Ostrich
    As a species I sometimes wonder if we most resemble the ostrich. If we duck our heads, ignore the problem for long enough, it will just, maybe, hopefully, please, go away. Or perhaps our approach is more like Bill Clinton's solution to gays in the military - don't ask, don't tell! After all, if nobody talks about it, it isn't there, is it?
    My brother-in-law, a house painter and his friend, who is working in the Alberta oil patch sum it up this way: "it's been about 150 years since the Industrial Revolution and we've done this much damage to the environment. We might get another 100 years out of it all."
    At a church luncheon, a fellow parishioner relates to me his experience of reading about the poisoning of the St Clare River at Sarnia. "I was there the night the company put that stuff in the ground and supposedly sealed it off." There was pain in his eyes and no doubt, in his heart and in his soul. I stated that it was amazing how many people I speak with, ordinary people, blue collar workers, who understand that we are gradually destroying the planet. He casually observed, "there will be a revolution."
    It's hardly unlikely that for some inexplicable reason, I am the only guy who has these conversations. It is more likely that most of us see the truth for what it is. We are gradually, speeding up, speeding up, speeding up, destroying the very planet that gives us life. Suicide or madness? Take your pick, I can't figure it out.
    I wonder who our political leaders talk to? Do they have these conversations or are they shielded for their own protection? They don't appear to be losing much sleep about it all as the oil companies drill away, as the auto manufacturers continue to turn out the gas combustion engine, as poisons are released into our rivers, lakes, oceans, landfills - anywhere the millions upon millions of barrels of poisonous waste can be hidden for awhile. Long enough, they hope, to finish making the money, packing up and leaving the deadly stuff behind. Perhaps, like Chernoble, the animals will have another paradise, free of humans, in a future that may be as inevitable as the prediction of my house painter friend - a hundred years or so.
    Is it possible to change a future that is rushing towards us virtually unhindered except for sporadic demonstrations and vocal minorities who are often perceived as "radical", "inhibiting progress", "tree-huggers", "terrorists", "trouble - makers", etc? Most days are like today - I simply have no idea whether we have the rational or empathetic ability to slow down, stop and possibly reverse the race to the "end of the human race."
    Joe Wiseman
    Citizen

  45. US State Department underestimates carbon pollution from Keystone XL

    @Russ R: Do you have any coincern about the ecological damage being done by the mining and processing of the bitumen in the Alberta Tar Sands?


  46. What I learned from debating science with trolls

    Other patterns of troll behaviour include the 'look over there' response to unwelcome evidence, and the zombie-like reemergence of refuted claims and arguments.  Together, they create a simple-minded dance whose steps always circle back to the same conclusions: telling new evidence forces trolls to change the topic, but once the new evidence has faded from the headlines, the  zombie claims it had refuted revive to walk the land again, befuddling new victims and reinforcing the convictions of people with strong commitments and short memories.

  47. US State Department underestimates carbon pollution from Keystone XL

    Russ said, "Here's one that I would be strongly in favour of: Stop ALL government subsidies. "

    That's a very nice sentiment, but you know as well as the rest of us, that's probably the least likely approach be implemented. Tell us which politician is going to stand up to say, "My constituents want no more government subsidies for any projects!" Yeah... right.

    Let's talk about solutions that actually are viable, like a revenue neutral carbon tax. Tax and dividend. This very likely to be the one and only politically viable solution. Still not easy, but one that is genuinely viable.

  48. US State Department underestimates carbon pollution from Keystone XL

    Andy,

    "I have estimated the effect of the oilsands on the climate in this post based on the paper by Swart and Weaver. Please let me know if you have a problem with it."

    At least you admit that the entire oil sands' impact would be "barely visible", and even that's over the many centuries it would take to extract the entire resource.  The Keystone XL pipeline, over its entire useful lifetime, could carry only a fraction of the oil sands.  So, a fraction of barely visible is indeed... to small to measure.   So it sounds like we're in agreement.

    "Could you a) Point us to a decision that would produce a climate effect big enough to measure and; b) let us know if you would be in favour of it. "

    Here's one that I would be strongly in favour of:  Stop ALL government subsidies.  All of them.  Every single one.  When people pay the full costs of their consumption, they'll consume less.

    "My guess is that the only policy decision that would produce a big effect is if one of the the big emitting countries introduced a hefty carbon tax. I would be heartily in favour of this, but my recollection is that you are skeptical of the efficacy of carbon taxes."

    As for carbon taxes, when you tell me how you plan to solve for carbon leakage to jurisdictions that aren't going to impose such taxes, maybe I'll agree with you.  Alternately, tell me how you intend to get every jurisdiction to agree to a uniform carbon tax.

    With that issue solved, I'd happily support a carbon tax (really any consumption tax) in place of an income tax.

  49. What I learned from debating science with trolls

    @christd3

    The proper response to the "fires occur naturally" meme is to suggest they light a bonfire in their own living and then report back on how that went for them personally. This actually IS a correct analogy.

  50. What I learned from debating science with trolls

    @Chris #21

    At what venue might an analogy assist then?

    I negotiate the maze of twisty passages, all alike, in the perhaps naive belief that some people read that stuff who aren't dyed in the wool "skeptics". Am I in fact wasting my time?

    My first Arctic map was carefully cloned from (un)Real Science, where Steve/Tony unaccountably neglected to paper over the "Pole hole"!

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