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While the idea has been the central thesis of many of Nassim Taleb's writings over the last several years, the publication of TheBlackSwan1 could not be more timely. Further, the more we look around us, the more we see Black Swans in today's global commercial and financial complex, as well as in the world at large. Many readers in the commodities sector are no doubt familiar with Taleb's popularization of Black Swans. For those who are not, the premise goes back to the formerly accepted Euro-centric idea that all swans are white. That is until the Europeans first traveled to Australia and discovered this was not the case. Contemporary economics, short-term thinking, and the need to quantify and compartmentalize our ideas in order to make sense of them, all serve to remove the 'gray area' from our sense of reasoning; unfortunately, the gray area is the source material from where the highest potential for discovery lies. Saying all swans are white was correct, until the first documentation of a black-colored species. Previous models become useless, and the world view changes in an instant. Extending this to other areas of contemporary markets, most of the major financial risks were assumed to be properly hedged, until the recent collapse of the banking system. Weather has these Black Swans too. It follows that blindly assuming continued warming climate trends will lead to the observation of slightly warmer temperatures year over year may work for a while, until a cold snap like the one that hit the eastern US at the beginning of last winter produces one of the coldest starts to winter in many years. This is the example that will be discussed in this brief paper.
Observations show that the globally averaged surface air temperature has increased +0.6*C +/-0.2*C, over the last 100 years2. This is documented through a careful analysis of the surface temperature recordings obtained from tens of thousands of locations around the world. But what does a globally averaged increase in surface temperature really mean? As it turns out, not very much. An increasing linear trend is, just that: a line drawn through a series of data points. Most of the data points will fall somewhere in the vicinity of the trend line. Some, those within one standard deviation, will be slightly above the trend line, while others will be slightly below. These cases will still be considered by most to be part of the normal distribution. Other data points, fewer in number, will be found further above and below the trend line; these, depending on location and time of year that the observation took place, may raise some eyebrows, but will still be included in them. Finally, we get to what statisticians love to describe as the outliers; those data points that are well outside of the distribution, and therefore conveniently 'ignored'.
With climatological analysis, there will always be extreme cases that will be recorded and will appear well outside of the majority of the histogram. Ignoring these data points, however, is the absolute last thing a careful observational scientist should do. The most interesting answers are usually found in the tails. When we are trying to understand the physical mechanisms that lead to these values, it is plain foolishness to smooth the data, minimizing peaks and troughs, and in the process diminishing the importance of these outliers; doing this masks the opportunity to learn something new about climate behavior.
A few examples follow. The 1993 floods in the Midwest were a once in a lifetime weather event; that is until the spring of 2008. Ice cover for the Northern Hemisphere has been steadily decreasing3, which has been more pronounced since the early 1990s; that is until the winter of 2007/08 saw the largest build in ice cover over the last 30 years.
Here is another similar example with snow cover. The areal extent of Northern Hemisphere snow cover has been reduced since around 20014, but every once in a while, nature evens things out and shows a build, even in the midst of a broader warming trend.
If we assume trend line climatology, we might get away with being right by extending a line via regression for a few consecutive years, or even decades. But when the pattern changes for reasons that are unexpected, we are not usually prepared to react. This can be viewed as a risk, but a proper and proactive risk management strategy may be able to use these events as opportunities.
Regardless of the causes of climate change, one factor is not subject for debate: year over year global climatic variability is getting more unpredictable and more extreme. Speculating on these extremes (via directly in weather futures, or indirectly in the energy and agricultural futures space) may be dangerous, but disregarding them as unlikely events can lead to financial disaster.
A simple yet very clear example can be described by arecent weather event that influenced the US energy market, and this scenario should be relevant to many readers. The figure below displays November Heating Degree Day (HDD) values for New York City, between 1992 and 2007. HDDs are a measure of heating energy demand, and are calculated as a deviation of the average temperature below 65*F. For example, if the average daily temperature on November 1st was 60*F, the HDDs for that day would be five. If the average daily temperature on November 2nd was 55*F, then the HDDs for that day would be 10, and the cumulative November HDDs would be 15. Therefore, the lower the average temperature, the higher the HDD value (cooling degree days, or CDDs, work in a similar fashion with respect to temperatures above 65*F).
Now even though the temperature trend for New York since the early 1990s has been warmer, a closer look reveals a cyclical heating demand pattern. While it can not be modeled precisely, every few years, a cold November in the east bucks the trend of early warm winters, and this leads to spikes in HDD (as well as energy futures) which are much higher than what was seen during the winter transition of the previous year (eg., 1992, 1995, 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2007).
Not anticipating these spikes can blindside the energy market. Many energy analysts and risk managers do one of two things when setting upcoming seasonal energy demand estimates: (1)they look at the broader trend and extend their projections, or (2)they plan demand requirements off of last year's observations. Both approaches are dangerous, and can lead to losses when an 'unexpected' weather event materializes.
A demand manager who may have used either of these approaches entering into the 2007/08 winter would have been wrong, and depending on how well they were hedged (if at all), a look at the change in energy futures over the subsequent months highlights the magnitude of financial risk. As a quick analysis of the last 17 years demonstrates, these pattern changing events occur at somewhat regular intervals, and anticipating these changes can make the difference between staggering losses for buyers forced to purchase at spot market prices, and healthy gains resulting from early strategic pricing or long term weather hedging.
The figure below highlights this danger of following the trend from a futures perspective. We are certainly not advocating that the run in energy prices that we have seen over the last year was solely a result of weather, but it should be noted that crude oil and heating oil futures were approximately 30% higher at the end of last winter than they were before the 2007/08 heating season started. The early season demand in the central and eastern US was certainly a constructive factor in supporting these markets during and following the 07/08 heating season.
To summarize, regardless of the broader climate trends, nature has a way of correcting herself. The Earth is a complex system, demonstrating properties of balance, emergence, and resilience. Climate does change -- it always has and always will, so even though we may be in a warming period with lower trending winter HDDs, we should not be surprised when we witness a change in the pattern that does not neatly fit an analysis via linear regression. Empirically, these patterns should not be considered Black Swans. But as we all (should) know, the true efficient market is a myth, and subjectivity will always lead to inefficiencies that can be exploited by those who are looking for opportunities via nontraditional analysis.
1 The Black Swan, by Nassim Taleb, 2007.
2 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 2007.
3 University of Illinois, Urbana - Champaign, Polar Research Group
4 Rutgers University Global Snow Lab
For information on purchasing reprints of this article, contact sales. Copyright 2013 CyberTech, Inc.
"Observations show that the globally averaged surface air temperature has increased +0.6*C +/-0.2*C, over the last 100 years2. This is documented through a careful analysis of the surface temperature recordings obtained from tens of thousands of locations around the world."
I believe you are far too generous above. I suggest a trip to www.surfacestations.org. There you will discover that the careful analysis to which you refer is being lavished on data from a large number of poorly positioned and maintained stations. It is my belief that the "significant" warming you mention is based on a large number of readings containing insignificant figures. The "data" which is reported has been massaged and is no longer fit to be called data. Not only is the surface station temperature record a "house of cards", but the cards are "marked".
Otherwise, I agree with your assessment. It is unwise and unproductive to rely on linear projections of past trends when one does not understand all of the factors which produced the past trend and all of the factors which might act to alter that trend.
Ferdinand E. Banks 1.16.09
"A look at the change in energy futures....highlights the magnitude of financial risk." Hmm. The boss of the Federal Reserve System, Ben Bernanke, looked at the change (or level) in oil futures, following which he made an absurd statement about what to expect from the oil market over the next few years. So much for proper hedging: if he had been the CEO of Goldman Sachs instead of the Fed, a large number of people would also be walking out of their building carrying cardboard boxes.
By the way, wasn't The Black Swan the name of an Errol Flynn movie? Maybe it also had something to do with the curse of globalization.
Jim Beyer 1.16.09
That was Tyrone Power (1942). I think it was about pirates, which the believers of the flying spaghetti monster (FSM) regard as intimately tied to global warming. (Don't ask....)
I have noticed that when talking with someone skeptical of the belief in global warming/climate change (one really needs a less loaded name for these folks as skeptic or denier seem too harsh) that no proof ever seems to be enough. One can say "If the Arctic Polar ice completely disappears in the Summer, is that enough?" They will usually say no, it could be due to something else, sunspots, whatever. Then the debate will drift toward "Well, there probably isn't much that can be done anyway, so if it is true, we are all screwed anyway."
Global warming skeptics accuse the believers of irrational, non-scientific behavior in pushing this agenda, which in some measure is correct. But I submit that the skeptics are just as irrational in dragging up issues such as the placement of some temperature monitors. This in no way affects measured losses of pack ice and ice melts from Greenland. Picking at nits does not constitute an alternative hypothesis. The skeptics have had ample time to present a thorough, comprehensive, alternative hypothesis to global warming. To date, one has not be produced, at least one that passes any muster. I'm not saying that the global warming theory could not be wrong or badly flawed. It could very well be. I AM saying that the global warming skeptics, for all their complaining about Al Gore, the IPCC, etc., have not presented a comprehensive alternative explanation that explains the observed phenomena in an adequate fashion.
I see the skeptic argument moving toward the "nothing we can do about it anyway" phase in the next few years.
Ferdinand E. Banks 1.16.09
Thanks Jim. I have a paper coming out somewhere about emissions trading, but the point is that it's about emissions trading and not global warming. If someone were to ask me about global warming - where someone here means my wife - I would say that I buy the argument for, but the truth is that I never think about it. Why should I? I don't have the time and the motivation - or maybe I should say the ability - to dig into the issue the way I was ready to dig into electric deregulation.
At the same time I don't mind telling anyone willing to listen that I don't want to hear about that topic or any topic in economics or science by the likes of Michael Chricton, Paul Johnson, Bjorn Lomborg, and maybe even Al Gore.
Jim Beyer 1.16.09
You have indirectly raised a very important point, namely that the horse has already left the barn (or Elvis has left the building....). The issue is no longer being debated by the powers that be, including oil companies and major utilities. I will admit being jaded enough to believe they have done this not because they necessarily believe in it, but that the real politique has indicated that it is pointless and even harmful to fight at this point. They will simply work on how they can best push these added costs onto their consumers. (Gee, I AM jaded....).
All of which goes to show how costly it will be if the global warming people are proved wrong. And the enormous value of any effort or research that could prove them wrong. But what do we get? Fluff about how plants "NEED" CO2 and gripes about the size of Al Gore's house. Ridiculous. If the global warming advocates are not scientific, then the global warming skeptics are positively infantile.
BTW, Fred, no more worries about comments from Michael Crichton.....
Ferdinand E. Banks 1.17.09
What we are getting is what's available: fluff and gripes. Just turn on your TV set some day. And about the rest of it, my new paper begins with a PLEA for carbon taxes by none other than the CEO of Exxon-Mobile. Of course that's OK with me, since as I said, I don't think about warming any more.
John K. Sutherland 1.17.09
Jim, Greetings from my minus 35 degree celsius, 120 year, record breaking cold interval. Though Global Warming is now called Global Climate Change in some quarters, even this can now be blamed on increasing carbon dioxide and thus upon the idea behind Global Warming. Orwell would have been proud to have learned more doublespeak from this.
All that we skeptics want is good science, not the usual blathering attacks; ad hominems, smoke and mirrors, and political massacring of opponents of the faith,. We even see some rebelling IPCC scientists - many of whom have, and are leaving the sinking IPCC ship in disgust over the unscientific treatment of their science and writings even within the IPCC, and are joining the skeptics camp. Many of the others like the money and the power and influence so they will put up with it until it is obvious that allying oneself with such corrupting of the scientific process will adversely affect their futures.
By the way, and as you saw in my recent article on this site, which you struggled to read and obviously did not understand, there is plenty of good science out there to demolish the IPCC summary view of things, written of course by a handful of Politicians, 'Green' NGOs and other assorted environmental cranks, who managed to change the science, behind the backs of the scientists, and didn't tell them.
Arctic ice levels are now at the same extent they were in 1979. I am willing to bet you that it will not disappear this coming summer. The entire Northern Hemisphere seems to be in a record cold snap, including northern Europe. People are freezing to death. Hell, polar bears could even die of cold and starvation if they cannot find open water or holes where seals breath. A pod of Narwhals were already culled when they got trapped in an isolated 'pond' and would die as it froze over.
Global warming was supposed to see winter temperatures ameliorate, not get worse, so breaking a 120 year cold record; and many such records have recently been broken, is a tad inconvenient. I guess it is more of the so called Gore Effect, whch is why he only likes to speak about AGW in mid-summer, rather than have the blizzards and other nasty weather dog his heels, while he beats the Global Warming drum. A tad embarrassing..
I see that you still throw unscientific woolly statements around, without addressing such inconvenient, real-world things such as minimal sunspot activity and its correlation with colder weather - possibly for the next couple of decades; El Ninos; La Ninas; Pacific decadal Oscillations, North Atlantic changes, etc.
Try addressing the science Jim. Until you do, the egg will continue to build on your face, and your present nattering will come back to haunt you.
Len Gould 1.17.09
John: Equating your local temperature condition in a given one or two year period with anything significant regarding climate is just the sort of non-science Jim is on about. ...
"demolish the IPCC summary view of things, written of course by a handful of Politicians, 'Green' NGOs and other assorted environmental cranks" ??
One question remains forefront to sceptics. Explain to me how increasing earth's GHG levels by 50% or 100% can NOT have a serious effect on earth's climate?
[Ahh, what's the use?]
John K. Sutherland 1.17.09
Your gloating comment about the late Michael Crichton was unworthy, even of you.
However, I understand your discomfort with what he said when he was alive, and especially in the intelligence squared debate in New York of a year and half ago. Nicely, the second debate - just gone - had the same flood of believers becoming skeptics after the talk. The truth always and only, hurts those who cannot handle it.
The costs of ill-advisedly addressing AGW are already helping to drive us deeper into this Global economic morrass. You should worry more about the IPCC being revealed even more solidly as corrupt and incompetent, than about warmers being proved wrong, though I would relish it being more openly revealed than it is, as it has already happened. The IPCC has already cost us Trillions of Dollars down the black hole of 'no return on the money'. If the IPCC was abolished we would all benefit - even you.
We Anthropogenic Warming skeptics (it warms and cools enough without any significant influence of man) want the world to wake up to what the science is really saying, to save us from the IPCC boondoggle and the Global UN incompetence and graft.
John K. Sutherland 1.17.09
Len, I knew you would leap in here, as you are generally predictable on this topic, but not so fast. As for your statement:
'Explain to me how increasing earth's GHG levels by 50% or 100% can NOT have a serious effect on earth's climate? '
... Len, if the GHG you are talking about is water vapor, I will mostly agree with you, but then you didn't mean that did you? You are mentally stuck only with Carbon Dioxide, which is a major error on your part as carbon dioxide cannot do it. It never did in the past, and the physical properties of carbon dioxide have not changed since I last checked. Clearly you did not understand the Paleo-Climate Graph covering earth's climate history over the last few billions of years, that I published in my recent article on this site.
You, and Jim, obviously had difficulty reading it the first time. It is just as true now. Even with carbon dioxide levels ten times what they are today, the world's climate did not become destructive of life, in fact it thrived, so your all embracing statement of GHG (meaning only carbon dioxide to you) is pointless and sidetracking nonsense.
Stop throwing smoke screens up Len, it is not worthy of you either.
Jim Beyer 1.17.09
I meant no disrespect to the late Dr. Crichton with that comment. I made the comment to inform Prof. Banks that he had died, of which Prof. Banks was apparently not aware.
(Besides, any disrespectful comment concerning Dr. Crichton would have to mention his great interest in the scientific field of spoon bending.)
Let's see, working backwards from your comments:
1. No, I never said that CO2 levels ten times today (that would be 3850 ppm) would be destructive of life, though NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) recommends levels below 1000 ppm for indoors, stating:
"(1000+ ppm of CO2) indicates inadequate ventilation; complaints such as headaches, fatigue, and eye and throat irritation will be more widespread; 1,000 ppm should be used as an upper limit for indoor levels"
Obviously (a word I seem to use a lot in posts responding to John...) higher CO2 levels will not be destructive to life in general, but will be highly disruptive to life that has had a few hundred thousand years to be adapted to the levels we've been experiencing in the recent past.
For the umpteenth time, water vapor tracks CO2 levels. It is in effect a multiplier of the effect of CO2. Why is this so? Because the average stay time in the atmosphere for water vapor is on the order of 30 days, versus the stay time of CO2 of 90 years. This is a tired canard that has been addressed many times before.
From the graph provided in this paper, one can see the ice pack is still much smaller than it was in 1979, even with this recent cold snap.
I thought I made pretty clear that a poor decision made with respect to climate change (either way) will be disastrous for humanity. That includes, obviously (that word again) effecting remediation that is unnecessary. When are all these anti-AGW scientists going get their data together and publish a concise counter-thesis in Science? Or any other refereed journal? (Oh, yeah, there's the huge scientific CONSPIRACY that prevents that from happening. Or maybe they just don't have anything to publish....)
FWIW, I don't think either side has adequately proved their case. But I do feel that both sides bear the burden of proof. The believers bear the burden because of the large expense they are imposing on us. The non-believers bear the burden as well, because they need to show that the high CO2 levels (highest in 600,000 years) are NOT harmful. Whenever you buck the status quo (in terms of either budget or CO2 levels) then you bear the burden of proof.
And then of course, my recommendation of building nukes (perfecting IFRs, then building them) is rejected by John not because it's a bad idea, but it's a good idea for the wrong reason.
Like I said earlier, the political horse that is the belief in global warming/climate change has already escaped from the barn. The best way to move forward from here is to find out more about the issue of higher levels of GHGs. If it turns out these concerns are not warranted, then hopefully it will come out in the science.
John K. Sutherland 1.17.09
Jim, you said you meant no disrespect to Crichton and then you go at him again ad hominem with this nonsense of spoon bending (SB). I don't know what he said on that, but I can assure you that I would not judge his comments on climate change, or his undoubted high intellect, by anything he said about SB. After all you continue to speak nonsense on AGW, yet I do not let that influence me about your often valid comments on Nuclear Power.
You sound like Disreali after he said that half of the politicians in the house were asses. When called upon to retract his comment, he said exactly the same thing a different way 'I withdraw my comment that half of the house are asses. Half of the house are NOT asses.'
I do NOT reject building more nuclear power. I reject using the stupidity of alleged AGW to try and justify it. Big difference!
Your comment 1: I was responding to Len, not you. You should read more carefully. Also I didn't see anything more than a comment 1.
Interestingly, I now detect in you a cautious and mildly qualified distancing of yourself from the IPCC position. Keep learning Jim, and you will soon be a skeptic and worth listening to.
Jim Beyer 1.18.09
Any similarity between me and Benjamin Disraeli would be greatly appreciated!
I mentioned this in another posting, but I don't think nuclear power is economically justified without considering the carbon emissions implications. A 1500 MW coal plant costs $3-4 Billion or so. A nuclear power plant of the same size is $10 Billion. (Listening to Crichton on Charlie Rose, he stated he felt a carbon tax should have been implemented years ago.)
I do think, with time, that nuclear power can compete with coal, even without the carbon implications. But it's not there yet; not even close.
I am indeed cautious about the global warming issue. Always was. What differs me from you is that I feel there is a burden of proof on the part of the skeptics to show that elevating CO2 to levels not seen in 600,000 years is not a problem. I think there is a burden of proof on the part of global warming believers as well, due to the economic costs involved.
Where we also differ (I think) is that from the standpoint of practicality, what is to be done in the meantime, as this proof may not be in the offing anytime soon. I say in the meantime, work further on nuclear power to displace coal, even though it may not be presently economical to do so. If the believers are wrong about global warming, then we still have a better nuclear power capability, which is not a bad thing in of itself. We need to further electrify our transportation as well, but this is being pushed by peak oil anyway. No real conflict there.
What the skeptics don't seem to understand is that reasonable remediation techniques (in this present era of non-proof either way) need not be that economically problematic, and would involve things we should be doing anyway. Even Crichton (again, from the Charlie Rose interview) advocated most of the measures that global warming believers want to do anyway.
What I find sad is that I'm not sure what the skeptics are even holding onto. Truth be told, if the belief in global warming has allowed the nuclear power industry in the West to become reborn, then that's a tremendously positive step. It might be odd that a media-driven fear (nuclear power) was itself driven off by another media driven fear (global warming) but so be it. Prof. Banks I believe, shares this frank pragmatism.
That being said, I do believe these GHG emission concerns are valid. I have no doubt that we will understand the situation much better in the next 10-20 years. The real issue is what do we do, or not do, in the meantime.
Let me try to put it another way. Any global warming skeptic demands proof that global warming is occurring (due to manmade GHGs, etc.) Well, given that, should not the global warming believer demand proof from that skeptic that it ISN'T due to these man-made sources (but instead due to something else; sunspots, etc.)? Note that this really isn't proving a negative, as the answer, when it arrives will point out a likely cause and by implication, dismiss other causes. I can't think of anything else that would be more fair.
Jim Beyer 1.18.09
Here's a good video showing the climate change debate in the form of a Pascal's Wager
Ferdinand E. Banks 1.19.09
Exactly what I didn't want to hear, Jim - I don't mean about carbon, but about the cost of a 1500 MW nuclear plant. $10 billion, WOW! Makes me think that I should contact Tam Hunt asap and beg his pardon for...for something or other.
But, in the long run I think that I can get that figure down. Providers of private capital pass from the scene, but governments are forever, and so they have got to do what Tam and his friends don't want them to do and blatantly subsidize a few of these plants until capitalists and the capital market get into step.
Of course, what looks like a subsidy may not be a subsidy. The big plant in Finland will probably end up costing close to $10 billion, but even so I'm afraid that I might be forced - forced mind you - to argue that it was not subsidized, even if the Finnish government representatives came down to the construction site every month (or day) with a bag full of hundred dollar bills and passed them out to workers and capitalists.
Just a gut feeling (this thing about subsidies), but I think that I have it right. Unfortunately, putting together an argument that would be understood by Joe the Millionaire is quite another matter.
Len Gould 1.19.09
John: I'm weary of tracking down random references to questionable work of sceptics. Let's see references to refereed journal publications from now on.
Len Gould 1.19.09
Ialso would note that the amount of peak reduction of northern hemisphere snow cover in the past 20 years is almost exactly equal to the amount of solar thermal collectors we should install in order to a) mitigate earth's loss of albedo and b) eliminate further use of fossil fuels.
Collectively, it would coast us nothing, in fact, given future reductions is availability of importable petroleum and N Gas, would save us money. The ONLY problem is that some powerful individuals would loose money on their ill-planned past investments.
Len Gould 1.19.09
And sure, reduce the solar collector installation by the amount of nuclear baseload which is fouind to be able to compete economically, if any. No difference to me.
John K. Sutherland 1.20.09
Len, Referenced? Refereed, meaning Peer reviewed? Ah yes, the dreaded referenced or stringently peer reviewed! I am sure you cannot mean 'referenced' or peer reviewed with the same quality as the climatology publication school as shown by McIntyre here:
…which shows the stupefyingly incestuous nature of climate science. This is NOT adequate referencing, or peer review, as it is entirely circular. Or how about the quality of disclosure, as exposed here:
There are even a few high quality refereed studies in there for you.
Chose almost any other science discipline and the words 'Peer reviewed' mean something. When you add to that, the fact that AGW scientists, even the tops in their climatology field are censored out of the print media because the editors are; you guessed it, the same guys who are protecting the turf of the AGW myth mongers, you get a feel for the incestuous circular reasoning and cross referencing to each other. ‘An old boys club’ kind of effect.
Try this comment on for size.
'This Lady is the tops in her field, but dare not speak out until she retired, for fear of losing her job. Says it all, I would say.
One of the most disturbing aspects of the global warming scam is the number of prominent people and entire segments of society bullied into silence. Consider the case of Dr. Joanne Simpson described as follows. “the first woman in the world to receive a PhD in meteorology, and formerly of NASA, who has authored more than 190 studies and has been called “among the most preeminent scientists of the last 100 years.” Then consider her statement. “Since I am no longer affiliated with any organization nor receiving any funding, I can speak quite frankly….As a scientist I remain skeptical...
The main basis of the claim that man’s release of greenhouse gases is the cause of the warming is based almost entirely upon climate models. We all know the frailty of models concerning the air-surface system.” No, we don’t all know the frailty of the models! Certainly most of the media and thereby the public and politicians don’t know, otherwise the latter would not be planning completely unnecessary, incredibly expensive and society altering policies. But the opening comment is actually frightening and speaks to why the scam has progressed so far. “Since I am no longer affiliated with any organization nor receive any funding, I can speak quite frankly.”
Undoubtedly, there are positions and times when people are muzzled; national security is a good example. I sympathize with young people starting out on careers. I understand the pressure of maintaining a family and paying mortgages. But none of this should apply to science. It’s a measure of the degree to which climate change has become political. It’s also a measure of the degree of bullying that has occurred. Why would a scientist in an organization directly involved in climate science not feel free to speak out?
But they are not the only ones who have kept quiet. Entire segments of society have either remained silent or taken evasive action. Few had the courage to even ask for a full and open debate. Now everything is changing as the claims of warming are offset by the realities of cooling. (Tim Ball, CFP)''.
And Jim, the Socially destructive costs are in the hands of the AGW alarmists, not those of the skeptics, so you need to get the science right the first time about AGW, and it ain’t there yet, and it probably will not be for some time with the world having seen a cooling trend now since 1998. Had it been warming, the record lows we have now seen in abundance, would have been most unlikely, yet the AGW steamroller just keeps blindly rollin’ along.
Graham Cowan 1.20.09
Hansen has promised record hot years in Obama's first term.
2008 having been the coolest year since 2000, AGW skeptics might have been able to make some money if they had been willing to take the bets climate scientists were offering a few years ago.
The fifth graph here shows the cooling trend in red.
Graham, I like the way Hansen sticks his neck out. I don't think Obama will let his first few years be dictated by such a fearmonger.
The fifth graph, which you refer to, of GISS data, on Tamino's site (aka Grant Foster I believe; a defender of 'realclimate' smear tactics of Schmidt) does not look like the GISS data and other data on this site (Anthony Watts):
I do not need to wonder why not, as you did something dishonest. You drew a line in there for one year of data spread, which is a no-no, and is not worthy of you. Look at the several satellite graphs from the various 'reputable' (maybe) collators of climate data, and what I said about cooling in the past decade is then shown more honestly.
Don Hirschberg 1.20.09
see reported usage of all fossil fuels continuing to go up. Almost every year we set a new world record production of CO2. I see about one new coal burner going on stream daily. I read that India is desperate for more coal and is opening new mines in an effort to keep existing plants running and to supply new ones being built.
I read of a forthcoming comprehensive Pentagon project which projects 80% of energy in 2030 will come from fossil fuels, 1% from wind, solar, et al. That’s about the percentages we have now, but everything shifts up 50%. This study would have to be widely in error for CO2 emissions to be less in 2030 than they are now.
Perhaps we are like thinkers in the Middle Ages debating how may angels can dance on the head of a pin?
Jim Beyer 1.20.09
Peak oil will keep the economy from recovering to those projected levels unless and until it can be removed as a major driver for our economy. Until that happens, we will have a undulating growth and decline pattern as our economy recovers enough to demand more oil than can be produced, and then sputters again when supply-demand forces drive the price of oil to growth destroying levels.
I don't see the climate change debate in terms of angels dancing on pin heads. Maybe it's like two sailors on the Titanic arguing how fast the ship can change course. A ship that is 'Unsinkable', some would say. So it doesn't matter if it turns at all; it would just waste fuel to turn it.
Ferdinand E. Banks 1.21.09
Where nuclear energy is concerned, the bottom line is getting more, and probably more important, not losing the capacity that we have.
If the politicians, decision makers, movers and shakers, shot-callers and so on wabt something done about global warming, then - if asked - I stand ready to tell them that more nuclear is the way to go. I don't see why 'morality' has to be brought into this, or even why a slight discussion of warming must take place, but if they want to discuss nuclear requirements in terms of warming, then I am ready to put my arrogant shoulder to the wheel.
If I remember correctly however the global warming 'thing' became interesting to me because of the way that people like Paul Johnson feel that they have an inherent right to pronounce scientists fools, while praising to the high heavens the likes of Bjorn Lomborg, and bringing the late Michael Crichton into the picture.
Going back to the cost of nuclear. When I say that the cost figures don't make sense to me, I'm inevitably told about the shortage of engineers and technicians and this-and-that. No, I'm not ready to buy any of that. The mobilization of engineering and technical talent should be duck soup for the industrialists who should be in charge of President Obama's energy program. The likely reason that it isn't duck soup is that dreamers and incompetents and 'debaters' have too much to say about the design and structure of the desired energy future.
Adrian Lloyd 1.21.09
Whether a new nuke costs $5 billion or $10 billion is now largely irrelevant. Many people hoped that the Finnish reactor would reduce the perception of the construction over-run risk of nuclear, but unfortunately the reverse has happened. To this you have also got to add the anticipated fall in electricity prices as industrial demand collapses and the fact that none of the remaining solvent banks seem to trust any other bank. My conclusion therefore is that for the next few years it will be very difficult to form a club of banks that is both willing to accept the risk and big enough to fund a new nuclear plant, unless there is substantial government support.
Whether such support is acceptable in the current economic climate is open to debate. The public is pretty hostile to the current level of support to banks, even though this is intended to prevent the collapse of the financial system rather than preserve bank profits. My guess is that any form of nuclear support which is based on the taxpayer underwriting bank risk is likely to be unacceptable to the electorate. Likewise, I am not so sure that a direct government subsidy to a utility wanting to build a nuke is feasible either – as well as the usual anti-nuclear campaigners, it would probably be opposed by coal producers and other utilities. The last thing they will want to see is government financed new capacity coming on line as demand falls.
We can all advance rational arguments why new nuclear capacity is needed now (AGW and/or Energy security), but I have this queasy feeling that no one will be listening for some time to come.
Len Gould 1.21.09
Related to nuclear: I'm a lurker on theOilDrum.com website, occasionally rebutting some of the worst anti-nuclear posts from the doomers who often post there. They habitually rabidly trash anyone who suggests nuclear energy could make a rational substitute for declining petroleum, and have honed their arguments to a sharp edge. However, yesterday, an editor there, Gail the Actuary, submitted an excellent article by Charles Barton on why the world should move to building "Liquid Fluoride Thorium" nuclear reactors. They do a terrific job of posing reasons why this system overcomes ALL the arguments the doomers use against nuclear energy. To wit:
1) long-term future fuel resources - they identified sufficient fuel resource economically available (without mining) to last hundreds of years into the future. Also eliminates the argument that "mining for uranium ruins the environment" [100-300 times more fuel efficient than LWRs]
2) EROEI - they demonstrate that this reactor cycle can self-sustain its fuel cycle simply by recovering thorium from coal ash.
" burning coal at the average 1000 MWe power plant produces about 13 tons of thorium per year. That thorium is recoverable from the power plant’s waste ash pile.
One ton of thorium will produce nearly 1 GW of electricity for a year in an efficient thorium cycle reactor. Thus current coal energy technology throws away over 10 times the energy it produces as electricity. This is not the result of poor thermodynamic efficiency; it is the result of a failure to recognize and use the energy value of thorium. The amount of thorium present in surface mining coal waste is enormous and would provide all the power human society needs for thousands of years, without resorting to any special mining for thorium, or the use of any other form or energy recovery."
3) Nuclear Waste - They illustrate, with some detail of the nuclear chain reactions involved, how this reactor can be operated to leave very little radioactive waste per unit energy produced.
Their own quick summary of advantages are as follows:
[QUOTE]Adoption of the thorium fuel cycle would offer the following advantages:
- Increased nuclear fuel resources thanks to the production of 233U from 232Th;
- Significant reduction in demand for the enriched isotope 235U;
- Very low (compared with the uranium-plutonium fuel cycle) production of long-lived radiotoxic wastes, including transuraniums, plutonium and transplutoniums;
- Possibility of accelerating the burnup of plutonium without the need for recycling, i.e. rapid reduction of existing plutonium stocks;
- Higher fuel burnup than in the uranium-plutonium cycle;
- Low excess reactivity of the core with thorium-based fuel, and more favourable temperature and void reactivity coefficients[/QUOTE]
From what I've seen so far, the only argument against it which the doomers could come up with is that "it encourages an increase in earth's human population", which IMHO is clearly an error since as soon as humans get access to sufficient low-cost electrical energy, they stop having large families.
I cringe to see you refer to the public output of GISS as "data". The actual data has been "massaged" through multiple "black boxes" before it is published. I would have been fired for claiming such "massaged" results were "data". I suspect you would have been as well.
The survey records published on www.surfacestations.org make it quite clear why the "massaging" is essential. However, there appears to be insufficient motivation to improve the data collection process.
Jim Beyer 1.21.09
Interesting comments about the Thorium plants. And how James Hansen (a name hated about as much as Al Gore's) has asked President Obama to seriously evaluate this technology.
I'm seeing two camps here. I see the AGW believers (or at least conditional believers) that are seeking out ways to address this problem with minimal economic repercussions. A crash program or programs to develop IFRs and/or Thorium reactor technology, and then use these reactors to displace coal plants as they age and retire, would in my opinion, be minimally invasive economically. Far less than has already been given out to the banks with the TARP bailouts.
And then there's the other camp that devotes all their energy to questioning the validity of the climate science. To what end? Because they simply hate silver-spooned democrats like Al Gore?
At the end of the day, even if climate change concerns prove to be overblown, a carefully orchestrated alternative energy plan including new reactor designs, will prove to be a major improvement to our economy as a whole. It's win-win.
On the other hand, griping about Gore and Hansen will contributing to stifling necessary electricity generation improvements needed anyway due to peak oil problems, and the required further electrification of the transportation sector. Worse, should the fears of the climate change believers be justified, we might be in a very bad place in the next 20-30 years. It's lose-lose.
If coal was this wonderful fuel that only had the problem of CO2 emissions, then it would be a different story. But it's not. Burning coal has dumped mercury into the Great Lakes, Sulphur in the air, and released more radioactive particles than all nuclear power plants combined (save Chernobyl, and maybe even including Chernobyl). It destroys the environment with it's mining, and ties up huge rail resources with its transport. And this is a technology that is worth saving? I disagree.
And worse yet, the AGW skeptics are questioning the pragmatism of the wise Prof. Banks. How dare they! :)
Malcolm Rawlingson 1.21.09
Well Adrian I am sorry to burst your bubble but new nuclear plants are being constructed all the time and will continue to be. India, China, Japan and France, Romania and others are steadily adding to their nuclear capacity and have been for years. Unfortunately for many if it ain't happening in America it just ain't happening no longer holds true. While the US has not constructed a nuclear plant for years the rest of the world has. I am sure that for western countries the banking problems may pose some added difficulty in raising funds but that is not true around the world. And of course implicit in your writings is he concept that nuclear power is a bad investment that banks should shy away from. On the contrary they are one of the best and most predictable investments. Indeed one of Canada's major pension plans owns a one third share of a large nuclear facility. They are not known for their reckless use of pension funds now are they!!
Malcolm Rawlingson 1.21.09
Like my good pal Fred I am convinced that trying to convince the IPCC lunatics they are wrong is about as useful as talking to the trees in my back yard. The results of their incorrect, manipulated and just plain wrong predictions are doing wonders for nuclear energy which of course is the long term solution to the energy demands of the people who live on Planet Earth. So I am eternally grateful to the IPCC for being so screwed up. I could not have wished for a better outcome than a huge resurgence in the development of nuclear energy. A technology that makes more fuel than it uses...you gotta like that. But while I like Fred's pragmatic approach I am concerned - as John Sutherland is - that the integrity of scientific principles has been thrown right out of the window. And that ought to be very worrying for a society that is so heavily dependent on accurate science and technology.
Indeed the very best discoveries often come out of the Black Swans. We should be wondering why in a world where we THINK temperatures are rising that in fact they appear to be going down again. Perhaps we do not know everything we need to know about our climate.
Malcolm Rawlingson 1.21.09
Worthy of note and discussion. I was listening to a radio broadcast by Gwyn Dyer on this climate change (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation - Radio One - Ideas) nonsense. One of the scientists was going on about the danger of "feedback loops". He contended that as the white ice melts it reflects less and less of the Suns energy back into space and as the darker sea takes its place (in the Arctic Ocean) it will absorb more and more of the Suns energy and the climate will then run out of control. Sounded plausible to me. Then he went on to say that the ice covering the Arctic had not been this small in area for XX years (can't remember the number but not relevant anyway). So the question arose in my old noggin that if his theory was right then when the ice was so sparse in previous era's then why did we NOT get the very feedback effect he said was inevitable. He seemed to miss the entire stupidity of what he had just said. Sounds like another black swan to me. Climate scientists should be asking the question why more often. It is much more likely that the earth's climate is dominated by the Sun's activity much more than anything mankind can do. I am also disturbed by the continued reference to CO2 as being some kind of bad poisonous. It seems that trees and plants do very well in high CO2 concentrations so plant productivity should be going up I'd suggest. But the amount of the total CO2 in the atmosphere that is generated by people is a tiny fraction of the total out there....a fact generally ignored by most people. Water vapor is the biggest greenhouse gas by far and it exists in quantities far far greater than CO2.
So lots of bogus science and good feeds in tropical locations reached by carbon producing jet transportation on the backs of taxpayers...why would you admit you're wrong and give it all up for the sake of scientific accuracy.
That would be inhuman.
Malcolm Rawlingson 1.21.09
Sorry that should be bad poisonous "GAS" and no am not referring to an Al Gore speaking tour.
Graham Cowan 1.21.09
I guess thorium reactors are OK, but In my most recent boron paper I outline what I think a reactor really should be like, if it is to be a fuel production reactor. I think I found a design that would start up on natural U and thereafter burn U or Th indiscriminately. Is that cool or what?
Coal ash has long been recognized as a source of fissionable materials, though probably on an emergency basis. There is plenty of the real stuff available, despite what some people think. But whether thorium reactors will achieve any popularity with the TV audience remains to be seen. The folks in Germany who coined the expression 'electricity facists' are unlikely to be impressed by any kind of reactor.
The situation in Finland doesn't look good for our booster club, but I don't worry about it. There is plenty of intelligence in Finland, but I am not sure of how much imagination, and the same is true of Sweden. It is likely that there are plenty of people in Finland who have been given the opportunity to drag their feet in this nuclear thing, and they are doing exactly that, but eventually that plant will be up and running. Expensive? Not to me it isn't. The Finns bought US fighter planes instead of Swedish, and they are members of the EU. Doing the math tells me that without those burdens, they could have bought a couple of new plants.
And, if the world were the way that it should be, when that Finnish plant is ready the recruiter general in the US would be there to sign up everybody who worked on it to help build new plants in California or Florida or somewhere warm. If, as they say, Americans have forgotten how to build nukes, they can build apartment houses for those 'mercenaries'.
Eric Christenson 1.22.09
I heard that if you write an article arguing that global climate change, acidification of the oceans, polar melt, the end to biodiversity, and a rise in extreme weather aren't really happening, you can get people to waste their time arguing back.
Don Hirschberg 1.22.09
Eric Chistenson I am not at all confident that I understand your message. A scant ten thousand years ago we were coming out of an Ice Age. I am vulnerable to correction but if I remember my geological history fairly most of North America, Europe and Asia had been covered with deep glaciers. I also have read and seen data that the CO2 content of our atmosphere has been far higher than at present. Perhaps CO2 emissions during the last two hundred years have contributed to global warming. But we have no idea whether this has been significant among the noise of other causes. Minor or significant?
Edward Reid, Jr. 1.23.09
Atmospheric CO2 concentrations began to rise in ~1750, when annual global anthropogenic emissions were 1/2000th of current levels. Therefore, logically, halting the increase in atmospheric concentrations would require reducing global annual emissions to pre-1750 levels, or by 99.95%. This might, or might not, also halt global climate change.
I have not noticed that the massive herd of scientists who have "consensed" regarding the causative link between CO2 and global climate change pointing out this rather obvious, though horribly "inconvenient" reality.That might be because they realize they would immediately become laughingstocks.
It appears to me that a 99.95% reduction in anthropogenic CO2 emissions globally would require complete elimination of all fossil fuel use, universal adoption of a vegan diet (since all meat animals exhale CO2) and global population reduction (since we exhale CO2 as well).
I don't plan to hold my breath until that happens. (Pun intended!)
Jim Beyer 1.23.09
Ed is making the rational case for "There's nothing we can do about it anyway."
I don't know if that means we should just keep steaming ahead as usual. I also disagree that scientists do not understand how hard the remediation problem is. They have argued that we need to reduce emissions to somewhere around 5-20% of present levels.
The second half of his post gets ad hoc and snippy. Not particularly constructive.
But, in an effort to take this thread somewhere meaningful, let's say global warming is real, but there is little that can be practically done about it. What then? That might be an argument instead to develop 'survivable' technologies that could survive political and social upheavals that may occur in the event of substantial climate change. To me, this means more local in nature, and further, locally sustainable.
Edward Reid, Jr. 1.23.09
Which scientists have "argued that we need to reduce emissions to somewhere around 5-20% of present levels."? And, is "we" the US, or the globe. The largest global number I've seen is the IEA 50% number, which was accompanied by a $45 trillion price tag.
I acknowledge that the second paragraph is "snippy". That was not an accident.
The third paragraph is an accurate portrayal of the requirements to achieve a 99.95% reduction. If you cannot accept that, suggest an alternative approach to the necessary reductions. I suggest you not try to hold your breath while you are working out the alternative approach.
By the way, we are not even talking about remediation yet. We're only talking about moving toward stabilizing atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Remediation is a whole other problem.
Jerry Toman 1.23.09
A perfect example of the "Black Swan" parable can be found here.
However, in this case it might be better referred to as "The Swan that Lays the Eggs of Gold."
Jim Beyer 1.23.09
This paper recommends reducing CO2 emissions to 5%-25% of present levels:
Caldeira K, Jain AK, and Hoffert M I. "Climate Sensitivity Uncertainty and the Need for Energy Without CO2 Emissions." Science 2003;299:2052-2054.
This would be global emissions.
The third paragraph is NOT an accurate portrayal of the requirements for such a reduction. For one it is vague in terms of actual numbers, and for two, its merely a list of invective actions designed to make the concept of evening thinking about emissions reduction appear ludicrous. That's fine, but don't try to claim its any kind of thoughtful, scientific commentary. Where are YOUR papers?
Most scientists today are trying to agree on what would be an acceptable maximum CO2 level which would not cause further problems. For awhile, this number was 450 ppm, but more recently, some scientists feel that we need to be at 350 ppm, which is lower than the present value of 385 ppm. No one that I have heard of has talked about needing to return to the levels of 1750, or about 280 ppm.
This also indicates your view of 99.95% reduction is flawed. Had we been at, say 10% of emissions in 1800 and stayed there, we would have stabilized at some lower level, maybe 300 or 320 ppm. This is because some amount of increased CO2 sinking occurs with higher partial pressures of CO2 including more plant uptake and increased dissolution within the oceans.
I find it interesting that you question my figures. I try at all times not to simply be talking out of my @ss, pardon my French. Perhaps I'm questioned in this matter, because, in my opinion, many of the AGW skeptics do. (Not necessarily you Ed, you are one of the more thoughtful ones, which is why I replied to your comment in the first place.)
Edward Reid, Jr. 1.23.09
My paper is here: http://www.utilitiesproject.com/documents.asp?grID=111&d_ID=4646
I am not talking about reducing atmospheric concentrations to 1750 levels. I am talking about reducing emissions levels to or below the emissions level at which atmospheric concentrations began to increase, to halt further increases in atmospheric concentration. Reducing emissions rates to 5-25% of current levels would slow the increase of atmsopheric concentration, but likely not stop it.
My point is merely that the US, or even the entire developed world, cannot solve the "problem" as identified. The sooner we realize that and begin addressing the issue realistically, the sooner we can develop a plan to deal with it. The rest is cowpaddies!
Don Hirschberg 1.23.09
Here we are blithely talking about how low we have to take CO2 emissions - as if someone knows. The answer is not in the back of the book. When the Kyoto Protocol meetings were held we were told we have precious little time to act. The Kyoto numbers were based on the CO2 rates of 1990. I believe we are now emitting about 30% more CO2 now than then. We haven’t even managed to put a bend in the CO2 growth rate curve. We not only hear that CO2 rates must be drastically reduced but that it must be done now or we will surely fall over the cliff. Times up. Is everyone in denial? Almost daily a new coal burner goes on line, new coal mines are being developed and population keeps on increasing. So, how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?
Malcolm Rawlingson 1.24.09
One of the interesting conundrums of modern life is that coal burning power plants do indeed emit more radioactive material into the atmosphere than nuclear power plants do. So closing coal plants and replacing them with nuclear plants reduces both the Carbon Dioxide emissions and radioactivity emissions.
And lest we not forget that digging billions of tons of carbon out of the ground to burn in these plants kills thousands of miners every year around the world and without fail do the same in 2009.
Note these are not possible hypothetical deaths but real people who are here now and will not be here in 2010 because we burn coal and their job is to mine it.
To me the reason to reduce coal plant use has nothing to do with Carbon Dioxide reduction and the possible - maybe - don't really have an answer-doomsday scenarios described above but everything to do with preventing real deaths that occur by the thousands every year - most notably in China. Even in countries like Canada and the US where regulations and safety practices are about as good as they get deaths in the coal industry are still far too common.
So if your desire is to reduce CO2 emissions (who cares why), reduce emissions of radioactivity, prevent deaths and have a cleaner environment I suggest build lots of nuclear plants. You will achieve all of those goals and I am sure the families of those that will not lose their loved ones will thank you for it.
Good grief I think I have become an environmentalist....but then I always was one that's why I am in the nuclear business.
Malcolm Rawlingson 1.24.09
A note on Thorium fuelled reactors and Graham Cowans post above. Natural Uranium CANDU reactors have been designed to operate on a Thorium 233 cycle. I believe AECL did that research many years ago now. The problem is that Uranium is such a small part of the cost of a nuclear plant that there is no economic incentive for developing a new fuel cycle. Uranium would have to increase in price many times to really make a dent in the operating costs of a nuclear plant. Most of the cost is labour to operate and maintain the plants - not fuel. Of course that is the great advantage of nuclear plants - a couple of truckloads of fuel keeps you going for months. There is no doubt that new fuel cycles are possible which will extend the range of fuel reserves from several hundred to several thousands of years of operation and that is without reprocessing any of the used fuel. That makes the electrical output costs very predicatable over time. No worries about gas supplies from less than friendly nations. No worries about oil supplies. Indeed the Japanese have even developed methods to extract Uranium from seawater.
So even without Thorium there is plenty of fuel for every one and it is not going to change any time soon.
Electric cars, electric trains, nuclear plants making methane and fresh water from the sea as well as electricity...that sounds like a much better future to me. No CO2 emissions either and enough fuel for a thousand years or more.
Graham Cowan 1.24.09
Gross emissions of CO2 obviously are very hard to reduce. Fortunately net emissions are easier. The earth's mantle minerals contain plenty of alkaline earth silicates, and enough mantle outcroppings exist that the removal of a few hundred cubic km can be done unobtrusively; and of course, that much alkaline earth carbonate makes a very thin layer if deposited over much of the Earth's surface. Google (olivine|serpentinite schuiling).
Here y'all go again--a veritable love fest on the virtues of nuclear power. Much of it is based on setting up a straw-man argument with coal-based power generation as the bogeyman.
This is a false dichotomy. Coal is obviously bad, but going for nuclear energy in a big way will make all (or maybe only some) of us slaves to our (perceived) energy needs, in addition to putting the safety of future generations at risk.
There are cleaner and cheaper methods than these two (see posting above).
Since this article is about "Black Swans" and such, what part of "Paradigm Shift" is it that you folks just don't understand???
Don Hirschberg 1.24.09
I don’t know whether CO2 is a major, a minor, or perhaps even a negligible factor in global warming. What I do know is that the anthropogenic problems on this planet are simply too many people. The Chinese do not emit the most CO2 into our atmosphere because they are wicked or stupid. The Indians do not need to build many more fossil fuel power plants because they are wicked or stupid. When someone is hungry we don’t say, “Wait ten years and we will feed you.” But this is the promise of nuclear power plants, wind farms, solar plants. Sure, let’s by all means build nuclear plants, etc. but that does not treat the problem. How do we get rid of billions of people? We don’t have the vaguest idea. Therein lies the problem.
Jeff Presley 1.25.09
Predictions based on feedback cycles are notoriously difficult or completely inaccurate) as Mr. Ferrari so eloquently put it above. When things are relatively static such as manpower budgets for ongoing projects that are in their end-life projections are easy, but the converse happens when one is trying to accelerate a project (read the book, Mythical Man-Month for an amusing treatise on this). Software development is one thing, but building a complex nuclear reactor quite another. And yet the same mistakes are made in both, starting with the budgeting, accounting for all the meaningless things and forgetting to account for the important ones, let alone the unforeseen. As WPPSS showed, there is NO such thing as a large nuke coming in on time and under budget, so the $10Billion numbers aren't that far off, not because they are inherently that expensive but because they exceed the managerial capacity of humans to implement them properly. Just like a software project falling victim to "feature float", new nukes carry the added burden of too many bells and whistles on top of an already complex task.
I can and have said plenty about the Chimera that is AGW, and have posted on this site the German scientists who have publicly stated that we are heading into a cooling period, to that I add the following from Dr. Easterbrook
I was not offered the same "wager" that some AGW skeptics (such as the esteemed Dr. Singer), but would have instantly and gladly taken it, assuming of course that REAL data gets a fair shake in the process. Where I live, which is undoubtedly thousands of miles from others on this forum, we are experiencing our 4th year in a row of record cold and our snowfall this year has shattered all previous records. Winter for us began in September and it is not letting up. People I've talked to across this country and in Canada have had similar experiences, so we're all watching carefully to see if the "data" honestly reports what our own thermometers as well as the news outlets are reporting.
To Mr. Gould who seems to believe that CO2 is such a multiplier, how then does he explain the tremendous cooling that occurs over a desert at night? The CO2 is all still there, didn't you say it would stay there for 30 years? What is the difference? Oh yes, over a desert there is negligible H20, the REAL greenhouse gas, which acts as a blanket keeping the heat near the surface, but only if present in sufficient quantities. The CO2 isn't doing squat because there isn't nearly enough of it, as a simple experiment can and HAS proven, but that doesn't sell newspapers or pay for excessive grants, so you aren't seeing that published.
As you may have guessed by my absence real world concerns are consuming my time lately so I'm not going to post as often here, but still enjoy reading the articles and commentary. Keep up the good work. :)
Jeff: "The CO2 isn't doing squat because there isn't nearly enough of it," -- Is simple proof that atmospheric water vapour is a) very powerful controller of temperature and b) a controlled variable based on other effects on atmospheric temperature such as CO2 and methane.
Ferdinand E. Banks 1.26.09
Len, what are the capacity of those reactors, and any others that you know of constructed within that time frame?
Jim Beyer 1.26.09
I think they are 728 MWe apiece. And, is it just me, or is there something rather Canadian about those reactors? ;)
Both of your references (a cool desert, and winters in Germany) are not in any stretch a scientific sampling of a global effect. Time and again, the AGW skeptics accuse the IPCC of being unscientific and then mention a few locales with contrary effects as "proof" of their point.
If you are concerned about AGW being the 21st century version of Eugenics (now THERE'S a catchphrase for you -- and no charge!) then get some papers published in refereed journals. And don't give me any crap about editorial bias and a conspiracy of the grant writers. Beyond that tired excuse rests, in my opinion, a lack of a consistent, coherent, counter-argument and some just plain laziness.
Jeff Presley 1.26.09
Len, those are SMALL nukes, but you make an interesting point. Perhaps the solution isn't a small number of large nukes but a large number of small nukes. Of course that introduces other issues like securing all those facilities...
H2O is NOT a controlled variable by ANY definition of the term. Its concentration in the atmosphere ranges from 0-4% and it is almost constantly changing. It doesn't give a rats rear end what the methane and CO2 around it are doing. Again, this is easily demonstrated in the lab, hence the reason the AGW "scientists" prefer to use mathematical models instead.
Jeff Presley 1.26.09
Are you being purposely obtuse or are you just ignorant? Or perhaps I should give you the benefit of the doubt and say you didn't read my post with your spectacles on? The reference to the desert was a thought experiment, hence your apparent difficulty in following along? At NO TIME did I talk about winters in Germany, I referenced a previous post wherein I gave the URL of A SCIENTIFIC REFEREED JOURNAL PUBLICATION, wherein two GERMAN scientists predicted global cooling and documented the reasons why. Apparently you didn't click on THAT link at the time, and if you're like Len and rarely if ever click on a link, I see no reason to repost it here.
I also gave the Easterbrook paper that had been partially published on a site that gave ready access to it, but since you're being a smart@ss and claiming you ONLY read refereed journals, I'll give you the complete list of REFEREED journal publications from Easterbrook's own website for your perusal. Of course those REFEREED journals require PAYMENT, so I know damn well you aren't going to follow up on them, you'll just make the same specious claims you made in your idiocy of a post and pretend you've accomplished something.
When you're ready to meet the issues head on and stop hiding behind legalities I might be interested in having a discussion with you, but I also know from experience that you'd far rather make the "discussion" go away, and pretend you "won". Anthropogenic Global Warming is going away scientifically, if not politically, because reality is refusing to follow the "predictions" being made. Even the sycophant press will stop sopping up the sky is falling stories as the reality of what is happening outside the windows trumps the surreality of what mocked up computer programs are saying. The new drum beat will be for "Climate Change" instead. But of course the climate ALWAYS changes, so that likewise belongs in the rubbish heap of discredited science.
Meantime because of political expedience, $trillions will be purloined from the public in the form of hidden taxes under the guise of "Climate Change", which will accomplish nothing but lining the pockets of politicians and corporations. The Climate will continue to change regardless.
Jim Beyer 1.26.09
I apologize about not reading your posting more carefully. My mistake.
Prof. Easterbrook, like Prof. Sherwood Idso, are older researchers who have basically retired. Some of the papers on Easterbrook's site have few or no footnotes, and contain paragraphs like this:
"All of these problems will be exacerbated by the soaring human population. The current world population of about 6 ½ billion people is projected to increase by almost 50% during the next 30 years of global cooling (Figure 2). The problems associated with the global cooling would be bad enough at current population levels. Think what they will be with the added demands from an additional three billion people, especially if we have uselessly spent trillions of dollars needlessly trying to reduce atmospheric CO2, leaving insufficient funds to cope with the real problems."
This may all be true, but making policy pronouncements within a supposedly scientific paper is rather extraordinary.
clarifies how much of the alleged links between sun spots, etc. and climate has not been borne out by the data to date, and how poor data handling caused problems with the theories of such adherents.
A major change that AGW seems to be pushing is re-awakening the nuclear power industry. I hardly believe that was a hidden agenda of the leftist politicians.
Jeff Presley 1.26.09
"making policy pronouncements within a supposedly scientific paper is rather extraordinary "
Jim, Are you KIDDING ME? Have you ever READ one of the IPCC papers? They do nothing BUT make policy pronouncements, as do Hansen and all the rest of the circus clowns. I also find it amusing you quote Damon Laut from 2004 while studiously IGNORING all the Climate Audit posts. AGW protagonists look for the SLIGHTEST flaw in a so-called denier's research, but REFUSE to even divulge sources to McIntyre when he calls them into question! He's CRUSHED them so many times it isn't even funny anymore and their only response is to refuse to deal with him or allow their data to be examined AT ALL! Even the so-called peer reviewed publications have refused to cooperate with McIntyre when he asks for background information AGAINST THEIR OWN PUBLISHED POLICIES! Mann used "filters" also, just to change the "interpretation" of the graphs, which is what Damon Laut want you to do, don't look at that raw data, look at our MASSAGED data.
There IS something very akin to a conspiracy here, by any and all definitions of the term, and it is aimed against the "denier" crowd. It is indeed a shame that the political environment is such that a professor must have tenure AND be close to retirement or emeritus status until he is allowed to stand up to the non-science that AGW has become. Unfortunate indeed. Furthermore analysis of the graphs on Damon's paper vs the ones Easterbrook uses show they aren't from the same sources, therefore even IF Damon/Laut are correct, it is irrelevant to Easterbrook's findings. As I said on this site 2 years ago on this same subject, I VASTLY prefer the work of geologists to climatologists because they have a far greater background and understanding of epochal events.
AGW=nuclear power promotion? Don't think so, maybe on THIS site, but the rest of the unwashed masses are just as stupid today as they were yesterday, and are just as fearful of nukes as they were before. Obama may or may not push for nuclear, but as a betting man I'll happily take odds that he won't. Wind, solar yes; nuclear no.
Jim Beyer 1.26.09
As I've said to Ed Reid, I'm all for getting to the bottom of the AGW issue as well. And if there is a counter-argument to be made, by all means it must be made. But it involves getting papers published. That's the way science works at this point -- good or bad, that's the way it happens.
I had papers published, some peer reviewed, many not. One important paper (explaining why the Hydrogen Economy is problematic) I could not get past a peer review. Very frustrating. But not a conspiracy. Though sometimes it might SEEM that way.
Don Hirschberg 1.26.09
I get a little squeamish and annoyed about categorizing papers as to whether they were peer reviewed or otherwise blessed by high academic authority. Two examples should give one pause. Every one of my geology books absolutely ridiculed the idea of continental drift, sea floor spreading, and Alfred Wegener was held to be a complete buffoon by those deciding correct geology. Those in the continental drift camp could not get published and for a period and those espousing these ideas were denied post grad degrees. Wegener was not a geologist so he had no business talking about geology. Linus Pauling was not an MD so he had no business talking about vitamin C. Luis Alvarez was not a geologist so he had no business talking about the demise of the dinosaurs.
Seems to me the giants of geology have been amateurs, engineers, weathermen, or chemists. Not a bad lot.
Today Plate Tectonics is as fundamental to geology as Evolution is to Biology and Science in general and the enlightenment of the Alvarez’s (son and father) is basic science. Academia now seems to have conveniently forgotten they were never members of the club when they made their discoveries.
A little light reading for your edification and amusement.
Think about the implications of anthropogenic carbon emissions being "stopped". They are somewhat more stringent than the 99.95% reduction I have suggested would be necessary to halt the increase. I feel like such a piker!
Jim Beyer 1.27.09
I appreciate your sentiments, but I submit you are cherry picking a few gems from a sea of nuts. For every Wegner, there are 10 EESTORs or 10 Hydronium advocates. (Note that it would be great if these proved viable, but like Ed, I am not holding my breath.)
It is probably proper that a new, radical, and correct idea is initially rejected, as the contrary would mean lots of other wrong stuff would get in without being properly vetted.
(And you should learn to add links; if Jeff could teach me, anyone can learn it.)
Anyway, the fine print states "if CO2 is allowed to peak at 450-600 ppm".
Edward Reid, Jr. 1.27.09
I didn't miss the "fine print". We will get to 450 ppmv, because most of "we" have no intention of stopping or even slowing emissions. It may take somewhat longer, though, if some of "we" reduce our emissions.
I missed Jeff's class on posting links. Most comment boards are set up to allow it to happen "automagically".
Jim Beyer 1.27.09
Yes, Energypulse is remiss in that area, as well as not allowing you to view posts before submitting them. Here's a guideline:
The href is the one you'd most likely use, though I'd be curious how Len got the photos in.
Graham Cowan 1.27.09
I had papers published, some peer reviewed, many not. One important paper (explaining why the Hydrogen Economy is problematic) I could not get past a peer review. Very frustrating. But not a conspiracy.
What could be more conspiratorial than anonymous reviewers? They're probably all in luxurious secret headquarters atop the North Tower.
I was able to get a few slams in against hydrogen -- mostly without naming it -- in my paper, and it still came out in a hydrogen-energy periodical.
The folks who burned up Thorium Carbide/Uranium Carbide (5.5:1) fissile and Thorium Carbide/Uranium Carbide (18.5:1) fertile fuel particles in the Peach Bottom HTGR between 1967 and 1974 and in the Fort St. Vrain HTGR (4.25:1 fissile) between 1976 and 1990 have an interesting 2002 paper available at: http://gt-mhr.ga.com/gtmhr1_all.html
For those interested in more current energy production progress, Matt Migliore, editor of the trade magazine Flow Control offers "Corn-Based Ethanol Goes from Boom to Bust" in the January 2009 issue. Some of the references he mentions for peers to review are:
1. "An Ethanol Bailout", The Wall Street Journal, December 24, 2008.
2. Environmental Working Group, Farm Subsidy Database, farm.ewg.org/farm/progdetail.php?fips=00000&progcode=com.
3. "Hunger Facts", Bread for the World, www.bread.org/learn/hunger-basics/.
4. "Energy at the Crossroads", Vaclav Smil, Global Science Forum Conference, May 17-19, 2006.
5. "Biofuels make climate change worse, scientific study conclude", The Independent, February 8, 2008.
Don Giegler 1.27.09
http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epa/epat8p2.html is also current with an update of the very informative Table 8.2. All, of course, for peers to review.
Graham Cowan 1.27.09
Len Gould says,
... the amount of peak reduction of northern hemisphere snow cover in the past 20 years is almost exactly equal to the amount of solar thermal collectors we should install in order to ... mitigate earth's loss of albedo ...
That would imply the Earth has gained albedo, and needs to have it mitigated back down. Near-zero albedo, near-zero whiteness, is a job requirement for solar thermal collectors.
Hi Graham. I wasn't advocating using solar thermal collectors to reduce earth's albedo, just showing an interesting conparison of relative areas. Sorry for the confusion.
It looks like several could use help in posting links here. The way Graham Cowan showed me is as follows, replace the [ at front with a "caret" / "less than sign"
[A href="http://www.etc">document title
Jeff: H2O content in atmosphere is definitely a controlled variable, controlled by atmospheric temperature when all else is equal, and GHG's independently control atmospheric temperature... ergo...
Jim Beyer 1.27.09
Fred & Len,
I was just thinking it's probably easier and more economic to build nuclear power plants in a country that can say to 1,200,000 of its own people: "Hey, we're building a dam here, move!".
That being said, the favorable numbers for the Qinshan plants probably indicate a lower bound in terms of cost that we can at least strive for.
Michael Pinca 1.27.09
Some amusing comments here gentlemen. Last evening PBS televised the story of J. Robert Oppenheimer. RE: The Manhattan Project and Los Alamos. Truman kicked Oppenheimer out of his office, because Oppenheimer felt too much guilt. At the same time Oppenheimer fullfilled his duty as an American Scientist, he struggled with the slow, roast of those refusing to issue his security clearance, suspected a communist, by those not familiar with the exact sciences involving mathematics and physics.
All of you know, the exact sciences are those most manipulated and Steller and Straws were major manipulators, today we are where we are because of it. Then, two major allies, raced to build the most thermal nuclear weapons. Look back, all so silly, yet related to the economics of both governments. August of 1945 was not that long ago in Earth years. Fortunately, we realized, thank God, how not such a good idea the nuclear weapons race was, in time, and won the race to the Moon.
However, there is more manipulation than ever. Why did US stop building NSSS's? Many answers, of course, none of them, acceptable. I gave twenty years of my life a an exact science product. I can't help it, the exact sciences deliver good things IN ALL LANGUAGES. We are so well understood, yet roll around like marbles, when the "manipulation" tilts the table, one hundredth of a degree! plus or minus.
In the 70's before deregulation; FACT: investing in electric utility stock was the most stable, it always rose in value, but over time not fast enough for supporting wall sreet. Good investment, slow yield, but guranteed yield because it supported industrial development.
FACT: Detroit Edison, big coal/load shifting utility giant, for example, must have had the same view mentioned above about the Titanic, they have an unsinkable ship (coal fired, simulatneous online/off line capability, re: Monroe, MI) why be so concerned about how fast we can steer to nuclear? re: Fermi. Making their answer easier, Fermi I was boron vaulted. Fermi II, mothballed for two years, until I arrived 77-79. That was one heck of a puzzle with one GE P.O.
Black Swan or no Black Swan, I'm glad Mr Truman kicked Oppenheimer's arse out of his office. Because Mr Oppenheimer was showing signs of being mentally manipulated not with a water board either. In the end, he did experience peace, when the world realized, math exists globally. One can't imagine, the anxiety when the Einsten's survive their lives with catnaps only, you know like with one eye open, hoping the rest of the world doesn't wake up top abruptly.
Graham Cowan 1.27.09
To advocate solar thermal collectors, on Earth, is to advocate reduction of the Earth's albedo.
You may not remember the good time. Few now live who do.
The very laws of nature were somehow different, in a way that is impossible to describe ... All of the heavies were light as a feather ... if one could describe it, I sometimes think that would bring it back. But it all ended the moment I screwed up my HTML on this forum. So take care.
Len, you're spouting the company line, but that line has been debunked.
CO2, at 380 parts per MILLION is by NO MEANS in the driver's seat versus H2O vapor at concentrations HUNDREDS of times higher! If I post a dozen or so peer reviewed articles that refute your position, will you A) read them at all? or B) change your mind?
The conspiracy discussion at < a href="http://climatesci.org/2009/01/22/real-climate-gavin-schmidt-response-to-the-climate-science-post-comments-on-real-climate%E2%80%99s-post-%E2%80%9Cfaq-on-climate-models-part-ii%E2%80%9D/">Climate Science (a REAL science site) versus Real Climate (a real politics site)
Ed, here's a better explanation of how to do a link, I'll do it twice once substituting the "[" for the "<" character and once giving you a direct link. As you know much of the hype surrounding AGW is based on climate models, which I've always stated were flawed. Gavin Schmidt disagrees, because he has hung his hat and professional reputation on the validity of them, albeit with poor convergence to reality.
[a href="http://climatesci.org/2009/01/26/a-new-paper-from-model-based-parameterizations-to-lookup-tables-an-eof-approach-by-leoncini-et-al-paper-2008/">Parameterization peer reviewed paper [/a> Parameterization peer reviewed paper
Len, as I stated before and as the paper above demonstrates, the models predict CO2 FORCING atmospheric temperature because they were PROGRAMMED TO DO SO! They do NOT follow physics, which is why you've run into problems at physorg. Atmospheric CO2 is NOT a catalyst to weather processes, but is a catalyst to photosynthesis, something necessary for ALL life on this planet.
Someone above was asking how to put a picture into these comments. As long as the picture already has a web address, it can be inserted with this line (change all "[" in my exmple to "left caret") I've showed the command on three separate lines for clarity but they can be grouped onto a single line.
For regular website address references, you can use the following for red text in standard background again change all "[" in my exmple to "left caret", or play with the text colours, three hex numbers indicating RED GREEN BLUE. As Graha demonstrates, there is also a command one can use within the "SPAN" to control the background colour.
[A href="add web address here in quotes" [SPAN style="COLOR: #ff4040"> [/SPAN>
Len Gould 1.28.09
In the second command, the Title you'd like to appear for readers goes in between the right caret of the colour comman and the left caret of the /SPAN.
Jim Beyer 1.28.09
I know I've said this 100 times as well. We just seem to be talking past each other.
1. It is true that H2O vapor is much more common in the atmosphere, and thus is a very large warming component when it is present.
2. It is also true that water vapor typically stays in the atmosphere only about 30 days or so.
3. CO2 on the other hand, stays in the atmosphere about 90 years.
What this all means is that H2O vapor is really a multiplier, that intensifies the effect of CO2 and other GHG concentrations.
Jeff Presley 1.28.09
Ed, the "[" needs to be replaced with a "<"
also the "/" character means "end this" so if you've started something, like "a hypertext reference" (a href), you end it with a "/a" inside the left and right carets.
Here's your link fixed: [a href="http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/01/27/james-hansens-former-nasa-supervisor-declares-himself-a-skeptic-says-hansen-embarrassed-nasa-was-never-muzzled/#more-5352"> call it something here [/a>
It can be a pain to get these all right, and even with practice (or in spite of it) I often make mistakes as I did myself on the conspiracy link above.
Jeff Presley 1.28.09
Ed, I've now READ your link and it is FANTASTIC! Thank you thank you thank you. Virtually EVERYTHING I have been saying is documented by PEER REVIEWED SCIENTISTS in that article. Hansen is a phony, and his comeuppance is coming up. I've been saying it, McIntyre has been saying it and now his ex-boss at NASA is saying it. The AGW house of cards is indeed tumbling down. The comments below the article are pretty funny too, especially the jawbone one.
BTW Hansen and Gavin Schmidt are co-conspirators on the "real climate" website. My link above repaired.
Jim, your 3 statements are non-syllogistic. You might as well state
1) Jim is a man 2) Jim has brown hair 3) All men have brown hair
It is utter nonsense.
CO2 is an interesting molecule, you can make a laser out of it for instance, but that laser is terribly INEFFICIENT, it isn't producing power, but consuming massive amounts to produce a relatively weak effect (albeit useful). You can also make a laser from H2O and according to Charles Townes, you can even make one from pudding. I wouldn't go so far as to call pudding a GHG however.
The mystery for people who didn't pay enough attention in science class is that heat is NOT being produced by GHG's but a slight amount of it is being RETAINED. The heater is called the SUN, and everything else pales into insignificance. Climate is infinitely more complex than Hansen and others let on and too many such as yourself forget that the Earth is 70% water. Needless to say there aren't a lot of monitors floating on that vast expanse of sea, so the water vapor above it is regularly ignored in favor of the minority vapor above the land masses. In what other endeavor can you safely ignore 70% of your input?
Jim Beyer 1.28.09
Well, Jeff, you seem to be intent on ignoring 100% of facts shown to you, so I guess that other endeavor would be your commentaries.
If the three points are utter nonsense, then which of them is false?
You comment about CO2 and lasers is completely random.
Yes, heat is not produced by GHGs, but by the sun. I actually knew that!
Anyway, a bit more about Hansen's ex-boss, this Theon guy. Most notably, he retired in 1994, so he couldn't really comment on any post-2000 "muzzling", one way or another.
Hansen must be the least effectively "muzzled" employee in the history of the federal government.
Edward Reid, Jr. 1.28.09
Check this out.
a href=http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/01/25/the-hardest-part-is-trying-to-influence-the-nature-of-the-measurements-obtained/#more-5295>Note blink comparator in graph[/a>
Edward Reid, Jr. 1.28.09
Jeff, Check this out.
[a href=http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/01/25/the-hardest-part-is-trying-to-influence-the-nature-of-the-measurements-obtained/#more-5295>Note blink comparator in graph[/a[
Edward Reid, Jr. 1.28.09
Jim Beyer 1.28.09
Let's try this.
(Coal piles in China photographed by Edward Burtynsky)
I think a good caption would be:
"Gee, I'm sure glad I recycled that plastic bag from the grocery store!"
Jeff Presley 1.28.09
Jim, I don't know or care if your hair is brown, even if true it doesn't necessarily follow. If CO2 is in the atmosphere for a long time, what difference does that make if the PHYSICS doesn't hold up your argument? This is really very easy, it can be done in a lab under completely controlled conditions, a tiny bit of CO2 does a TINY bit of heat retention, PERIOD. Water vapor gets recycled true, but there is a LOT of it, and MOST of the planet is made up of water so there's a LOT more where THAT came from. Which part of THIS are you having a hard time understanding? Not to mention that laboratory test prove that water vapor is FOUR times more effective than CO2 at heat retention and we have a compelling case. To pretend that a tiny bit of CO2 mixed heterogeneously in the atmosphere has a multiplier effect on the H2O is just that, a pretense.
Ed, you really need to SUBSTITUTE the less than sign for the left bracket, and the greater than sign is the closing piece like this < something in the middle >
also you need to get rid of the space between the less and greater than signs and the hypertext commands, because that is what failed me above (I think) with this site's parser.
Jim, about Hansen's boss. I've been someone's boss before but because of the vagaries of the system, only their direct supervisor (several rungs below me on the totem pole) were allowed to give them their annual reviews, but I had to Ok the budgets etc. Therefore Hansen was within his sphere. Furthermore Theon was certainly in a position to know NASA's policies concerning public statements and even your ad hominem attack site did nothing to refute THAT point.
The website you chose was more than pathetic, especially concerning geezers, something I'm personally offended at. Those old people took us to the moon, and as I've stated before, if we had to go TODAY we couldn't get it done in TEN YEARS, guaranteed! I certainly hope the folks who write that tripe get to die before they get old, the sooner the better apparently.
Ferdinand E. Banks 1.29.09
That's funny Michael P., I've been going around all these years telling people that they put the blocks to Robert Oppenheimer because he was rich, famous, was a good dancer, had done a fantastic amount of traveling in Europe before the war, was attractive to the ladies, and in spite of those disadvantages was smart as hell.
Oppenheimer agreed that the bomb should be used on a Japanese city rather than in a demonstration, which - ex-post - a lot of military people, to include perhaps Eisenhower, thought made more sense. As far as I'm concerned the firing of Oppenheimer was a disgrace, a scandal, but life is like that. He should have just used some gutter language and shrugged it off. After all, as General Groves pointed out, nobody could have kept those prima donnas at Los Alamos in line except Oppenheimer, and that's what the US government wanted him to do.
Edward Reid, Jr. 1.29.09
You will enjoy this, even if I screw up the link process.
Jeff: "To pretend that a tiny bit of CO2 mixed heterogeneously in the atmosphere has a multiplier effect on the H2O is just that, a pretense. " -- You seem to be having a really difficult time with this very minor bit of obvious science. Water vapour is a controlled variable in GHG heat retention. CO2 and methane and other GHG's are controlling. Let's see, how else to explain it?
Take a unit 100 cubic meters of air near the earth's surface and near a body of open water. The amount of water vapour in that air depends entirely on the recent history of the temperature of the air, eg. from to 0 barg line in tha graph above (dark blue line), if the coldest overnight temperature to which the air was last subjected was 10 degC, then the air will hold (by eyeball, approx.) 1 kg of water vapour. Any additional water vapour the air may have contained (perhaps it cooled overnight from a warmer daytime temperature when it collected additional moisture) will have condensed out as dew / hoar frost, which we're all familiar with. If the coldest overnight temperature to which the air was last subjected was 23 degC, then the air will hold (by eyeball, approx.) 2 kg of water vapour.
IIt is obvious then that the water content of air is entirely dependent on the air's temperature (and pressure). Taking atmospheric pressure as not an issue of significance in this discussion since it will be essentially the same for both a natural climate and a GHG-induced warmer climate, we can see that, for a given condition, all else being equal, if we add jenough CO2 / methane / etc. to a 100 cu meter vertical column of earth's atmosphere sufficient to cause it to retain enough additional heat to increase its minimum overnight temperature from 20 degC to 21 degC, then that 100 cubic meters of air will INCREASE its water vapour content from 1.8 kg to 1.9 kg. THEN, the additional water vapour content itself will make an additional contribution to the radiant heat retained, further increasing the minimum overnight temperature, thus further increasing the amount of water vapour retained, etc. etc. in a circle.
Of course I've chose temps and pressures to simplify my example, reality is a lot more complex, but still works approximately as described. That's why politicians and rational people listen to specialist climate scientists rather than amateurs like myself (or yourself).
Len Gould 1.29.09
correction - change the "to a 100 cu meter vertical column of earth's atmosphere" to "to a vertical column of earth's atmosphere containing the same mss of air as 100 cu meters at1 barg"
Don't worry Ed, practice makes perfect. And I'm sorry my pic was so big it widened the whole page; got mess with that 'width' parameter, I guess.
To add on to Len's point, unlike water, CO2 (or methane for that matter) does not rain out of our atmosphere. So when it does get cold, like at night, much of the water leaves the atmosphere. The next morning, the rate at which things will heat up again depends on the ground albedo and any extant GHGs, namely CO2 and methane. The water vapor follows the heat, not the other way around.
Len Gould 1.29.09
Ed: You got your links ALMOST corrrect, just change the leading "[" to "<" wherever they occur.
Len Gould 1.29.09
I still have an error in that correction. Trying again.
correction - change the "to a 100 cu meter vertical column of earth's atmosphere" to "to a vertical column of earth's atmosphere containing the same mass of air as 100 cu meters at 0 barg"
Len Gould 1.29.09
Agreed, Jim, width parameter on the "link images" command works strangely. I can't figure out what the 100% refers to, the image or the page in which it is displayed. It appears to me so far that it refers to the image itself IF the image size is wider than the page displaying it (hence your high-res picture increased the page width), else to the page (hence my graph above got stretched). Wierd.
Malcolm Rawlingson 1.31.09
The clear and unequivocal lesson from Quinshan is that large nuclear (I would hardly call a 730MW x 2 plant small) reactors can be built on time and on budget. So what was different about about Quinshan than the rest is the question we should all be asking. It quite clearly CAN be done and therefore is well within the capability of humans to manage such projects.
1. No stopping the project halfway through. 2. Once approved politics stays out of it. 3.A workforce dedicated to completing it. 4. A terrific design that can be built in modules.
THAT is why Quinshan was a success.
AHEAD of TIME ON budget VERY reliable VERY safe NO CO2 NO pollution LOW fuel costs
Where did you see THAT major accomplishment in the newspapers or TV?
I defy anyone to say that is not preferable to humungous greta big piles of coal, or tens of thousands of windmills or damming up rivers and flooding vast tracts of land.
Of course large nuclear can be built on time and on budget. Just allow the people who know how to build them do their job.
Ferdinand E. Banks 2.1.09
No they cant be built on time and on budget, because THEY don't want them built on time and on budget. That's the point. THEY are dreaming of soft energy options which, of course, will have to be constructed some day, but optimally their construction is going to require what - I think it was Joseph Somsel - called "extra energy". But don't try to explain that to them.
Jeff Presley 2.1.09
Len, I understand your graph and the concept behind it, but don't agree that a microscopic amount of CO2 can have the effect you attribute to it. Now if you'd said the CO2 could raise the temp .0003 degrees I'd be in complete agreement, almost. Of course the other issues are the asymptotic curve as the air reaches humidity saturation and the other issue is the albedo effect of the clouds sure to form in the higher altitudes, I'm sure your engineering site talks about it also.
Ed, the easiest thing to do might be for you to click on View - Page Source (Ctrl-U on my browser), and then you can see PRECISELY how it is done, without having to substitute characters.
Ferdinand I agree with your last post, perhaps it is because we both have the same jaded opinion of human nature, especially of the political kind. :)
Len Gould 2.2.09
Jeff: All I can respond to your latest position with is that climate science disagrees with you.
Jim Beyer 2.2.09
The principle difference of CO2 vs. H2O is that CO2 does not precipitate out of the atmosphere, and H2O does. The only way CO2 leaves is via intake by plants or some chemical processes (including the ocean).
The extreme example of this would be the 'snowball earth' that occurred during the Cryogenian period about 700 million years ago. (Some say it was a 'slushball earth'.) The point is that it got cool enough so that much of the water vapor left the atmosphere and then it stayed very cold. It took millions of years of volcanic activity to get enough CO2 into the air to unfreeze the planet again.
What you seem to be failing to grasp is that since the ambient temperature dictates the amount of water vapor, the water vapor pressure is driven by the temperature, and not the other way around. Since the CO2 is always around, it can dictate the temperature.
If what you believed was true, then the snowball earth never would have happened.
Look at it this way. A tiny bit of CO2 raises the temperature a tiny bit, allowing a bit more H2O to evaporate. This THEN allows the temperature to rise a tiny bit MORE, allowing a bit MORE H2O to evaporate. And so on.
Jeff Presley 2.2.09
Len, "climate science disagrees with you". Yup that about sums it up. To be more precise (precision is the salvation and bane of engineers after all), the AGW side of climate "science" disagrees with me and vice versa of course.
Jim, rather easy to rebut your argument in two parts. First re-read the Easterbrook links I sent previously and explain why the geologic record proves that CO2 was on the order of 4400 ppm (~12X higher than today's supposedly Armageddon number) prior to and during the epoch you describe, shouldn't it have been doing a better warming job? Second and more damning is this article, which the AGW scientists have been more than reluctant to discuss on its merits, resorting to their attack the messenger strategies instead. CO2, Temperature and Ice Ages
I hate to say I told you so, well that's not quite true, I don't mind saying I told you so... ;)
Jim Beyer 2.2.09
Now you're just making stuff up. Easterbrook says no such thing (as far as I could find.) He mentions CO2 levels you cited, but for the Ordovician period, around 500 million years ago. A completely different time frame. Where exactly does Easterbrook say that CO2 was at 4400 ppm at the beginning of the Cryogenian? (Immediately afterward, it may have been much, much, higher; some say even 120,000 ppm.)
And there is no argument about whether it snows or rains CO2 on earth. It doesn't.
(It's this kind of stuff that leads me to think the AGW skeptics don't have much to hang their hats on. When you question their evidence, they get all squishy and iterate stuff that that doesn't make any sense or isn't even true.)
Ok if I'm making things up, then "snowball earth" belongs in the same category. I said epoch which means 10's of millions of years, and I might be off by a couple of million. If you'd like a different source there's this graph, which more clearly shows epochal and period events including ice ages of massive duration (since a period is 100's of millions of years, just to show up on the graph takes quite a long time. Bottom line, which you haven't refuted is the follow-on effect of CO2 uptick AFTER the warming has occurred not before. Furthermore, if it is such a great heating element, why is it so high DURING the ice ages? You're not a climate scientist, I'm not a climate scientist, but the climate scientists are running from these questions like the Democratic party is running from Tom Daschle.
We're not quite to the flicker of a gnat's eyelid geologically speaking, so of course to talk about end-of-time events from our perspective is laughable to a geologist, of whom my father was one, hence my likewise amusement.
Well, I agree about the gnat's eyelid part. The time of humanity has been vanishingly small.
So don't you think it's a bit disconcerting, based on the chart you have provided, that we have raised CO2 by 150 ppm or so in just a few hundred years? An amount large enough to clearly register on your chart that stretches some 600 million years. Shouldn't that at least give one a moment to pause and think about what's going on?
Believe it or not, I'm all for questioning the evidence of global warming. Obviously the scientists do not have all the answers, and probably not even most of them. But, it is becoming clear to me that the skeptics have even LESS information, they present their cases with even MORE flaws, and they seem overall LESS rigorous with their facts than the all too imperfect AGW believers.
I don't think even Hansen would say "I might be off by a couple million" (years!). Actually, closer to 250 million years, but who's counting?
Michael Pinca 2.3.09
Thank you for the remarks, Mr. Banks. I understand them. Steinmetz was another fav of mine. I think "they" put the blocks to him as well.
Michael Pinca 2.3.09
Mssrs, Banks and Rawlingston - both on factual tracks. What CAN be, likely not to occur too soon. More people problems than few can solve. But I believe, before I breathe my last breath, we will add some new nukes to the US fleet.
And btw, about global warming - the only real evidence I can agree on is, the development of the ladies bloomers to the present day thong!
Michael Pinca 2.3.09
At this point I am getting exhausted with any one hammering over the price tag of nuclear plant. Totally, not relevant. The return on a nuimber invested, used and useful, should not be questioned in today's business world.
I would like to see someone tell the "Rock Drillers", causing another vertical aquaduct for NYC's future water supply, to STOP.
The worst to do, when you have something good going for life on this planet.
I see the stimulus package number growing to a trillion? Sheesh.
Jeff Presley 2.3.09
Jim, I don't believe we're even looking at the same graph. You can SEE the minuscule blip at the far right side of that graph that somehow shows 150ppm CO2 compared to the THOUSANDS of ppm's just to its left? Mighty fine eyesight you have there.
Also if you take a close look at the left side of the graph, admittedly the CO2 peaked at about 7000 ppm during the latter stages of the Cambrian period. However it didn't just magically start at ZERO prior to the 4750 or so PPM on the left side of the graph. All respectable scientists in this arena agree that there was a substantial amount of CO2 in the atmosphere prior to that point on the graph, but can't definitively measure it at present as they can with the fossil record. The other point of course is that the plant uptake of the Carboniferous era is what REMOVED the CO2 from the atmosphere, so although it doesn't precipitate out as H2O does, it certainly disappears into the known carbon sinks, plants being a very effective one.
Hansen is a highly paid professional with a large staff of sycophants surrounding him. I'm on my own here, with my own intelligence doing this on a sub-part time basis. Now I readily admit I'm probably smarter than Hansen on an IQ scale, but that doesn't mean I'm going to spend the time and effort to refute each and every point of his to your satisfaction. Others are engaged in that joust, I recommend for the thousandth time you peruse climateaudit where you will get to find tons of errors by Hansen et al. Furthermore, I don't grant you the point you seem to be taking here, that CO2 levels were somehow substantially lower than what I show on the graph above. Quite the opposite is not only possible but likely, and once the professionals are funded to actually research this point (difficult in these political times), we'll get the definitive measurements we're looking for. Well, all of us are looking for it except the AGW crowd, it would just be more embarrassment to them.
Here's the geologic time scale chart so you can calibrate your thinking. Your "Cryogenian" era isn't a geologic term that I'm aware of but is part of the precambrian era, which is quite long. >
Len Gould 2.3.09
It is ridiculous to be using "geological timescales" in debating GHG-induced AGW. Catastrophic events (from a human civilization point of view) such as the half-dozen ice ages in the past 750,000 years are too short even in total to show u[ on your graphs. What relevance is the estimate of 4,600 PPMV CO2 in some ancient period to today? If you're trying to convinve me that we could maintain modern civillization with 4,600 PPMV atmospheric CO2, you fail miserably. Very few mammals could compete with reptiles in such an environment.
Jeff Presley 2.3.09
What's ridiculous Len is to believe that atmospheric CO2 is a temperature driver of such significance that we are heading into a climactic Armageddon when the numbers today are 20x lower than they were DURING KNOWN ICE AGES!! Either it works or it doesn't. If it doesn't why are we wasting our time and money trying to resolve it? Why are scientists by the thousands bailing off the AGW bandwagon? Perhaps it is because even though they'd sell their souls for a grant, at the end of the day they don't want their names associated with something so completely non-scientific?
A popular crime show here in the states is called CSI (Crime Scene Investigation). When trying to find the guilty party, the main character always likes to say, "Follow the evidence". In the case of climate science, the evidence that doesn't include the assumed culprit (CO2) is pointedly ignored. Meanwhile we learn nothing about our climate, and even less about how (or even whether) it can be "fixed". That would be bad enough, but for political reasons, potentially horrific policy decisions are being implemented or contemplated that will have a far greater deleterious effect than anything CO2 related that can be PROVEN beyond a reasonable doubt. And please don't repeat that tired old saw about .0000000001% chance of being correct versus extinction. That dog won't hunt.
Len Gould 2.4.09
Jeff: "20x lower than they were DURING KNOWN ICE AGES!! " -- What exactly was the geographic organization of the continental landmasses during that historic period? If they were all clustered about the south pole, as eg. Gonwandaland, then I repeat, NO RELEVANCE!
Stop trying to make out that climate scientists are all stupid or corrupt, and anyone who listens to them an idiot. In addition to being insulted, I'm getting very weary of this childishness.
"The Mid-Aptian OAE, at least, is associated with a massive release of methane and an apparently large spike in world temperatures. This methane was, presumably, the abiotic product of processes in the mantle and was released during the frenzy of mid- ocean ridge spreading which occurred at this time. It is thus reasonable to speculate that the release of methane and associated temperature increase of the Mid-Aptian acted to trigger massive blooms of some relatively low temperature (for a thermophile) archeote and its sulfate reducing symbiotes. These microorganisms would eventually eliminate the excess methane, saving the Earth from long-term over-heating; but, in the process, would also generate enough toxic hydrogen sulfide to kill everything within a rather large radius of the archeote bloom. "
These geologists appear to have no problem attributing complete control of earth's atmospheric temperature to the greenhouse gas methane. Perhaps if we can increase atmosphere's GHG content just enough to get some really strong releases of clathrate methane, we can be more certain....
Jim Beyer 2.4.09
Getting into past geological eras was my fault.
In trying to explain what I thought was a simple concept to Jeff, I brought up an example which led to further denials and obfuscations by him. I really, really, hate this sort of thing.
(No Jeff, I didn't see any blip. If you read what I said: "would register on your chart..." I meant that humanity as moved CO2 levels measurably (several percent) with respect to the range of CO2 values over the last 500 million years (200-4400 ppm). Enough that a movement of that size would be visible (would REGISTER) on the scale of the graph provided. Sheesh.....)
I think everyone can agree with the importance of being RIGHT about this. I just want to figure out what's going on. If the AGW scientists are full of beans and altering their data I want to know that. I just want to figure out the truth, whatever it is.
Like many Energypulse readers, I'm not against disbelieving the status quo. We are a pretty smart bunch. And this is a great venue to debate this issue.
But it has to be CONSTRUCTIVE. Too many times AGW discussions drift into a kind of rhetorical dodgeball. This to me is indicative of people who want to WIN, not those who want to figure things out.
I don't want to win. I want to figure this out.
P.S. I apologize about a link I posted that commented on the age of many of the AGW deniers. While I don't think this is exactly irrelevant (even Einstein could not accept Quantum Theory, despite being a pretty bright guy; most new math theories are developed by researchers under 30, etc.) it needn't be presented in such a crass and insulting manner.
Edward Reid, Jr. 2.4.09
"If the AGW scientists are full of beans and altering their data I want to know that."
However, a blink graph with no references other than "h/t to Zapruder" (the JFK Zapruder?) is not something that I can very much follow up on.
I did notice the more moderate line uses data only up until 2000, so it's not even really an apples-to-apples comparison.
Got anything else?
Edward Reid, Jr. 2.4.09
The point of the blink comparator is to show the impact that the addition of the last several years of "data" had on the "data" for the prior period. Both "data" sets are the same until 2000, except for the prior year "massaging" adjustments applied since 2000 to the pre-2000 "data".
The point, if you read the accompanying article, is that the GISS "data" for prior years is constantly changing as more recent "data" is added. That is why I always put "data" in quotation marks when referring to GISS.
That process bears a striking olefactory similarity to a fresh cow paddie!
PS: Don't get too excited that I got the link right once in a row! :-)
Len Gould 2.4.09
Ed, your link: "The hardest part is trying to influence the nature of the measurements obtained, so that the key information can be obtained." -- seems to me that could refer to a whole lot of legitimate activities. How do satellites measure atmospheric temperature? Is it by comparing the ratios of Hydrogen to deuterium atoms in water vapour content? Measuring the ratio of various isotopes of oxygen? In order to get comparable readings right down to the surface consistently, do measurements need to be discarded if its taken when there's a cloud cover? How easy is it to identify cloud cover over oceans at night? Potentially hundreds of others.
Without clear information on all the issues regarding the methodology in use, its ridiculous to condemn the measurements on the basis of the above quote.
Jeff Presley 2.5.09
Jim An amount large enough to clearly register on your chart that stretches some 600 million years?> We're talking past each other here AGAIN. In fact the slight amount you're talking about is far TOO SMALL to register on a chart going back 600 million years! Your statement is self-contradictory no wonder you "hate this". I would too.
I believe you are sincere when you say you want to get to the bottom of this. So am I. My job isn't to discredit AGW hypotheses, but if it is so simple that even I can do it, how bad is the core hypothesis in the first place? Again, I point you to the second part of my previous post where I talk about the CSI maxim, follow the evidence. AGW refuses to follow the evidence but instead cooks the evidence when it embarrasses them.
Len on the other hand has guzzled so much cool aid that I don't know there is any hope for him on this. His "rebuttal" throws in compound unproven hypotheses, such as abiotic mantle methane, itself largely discredited. So to support one questionable theory he adds others even MORE questionable to the pot? All I'm trying to is get you to THINK, but if we're sailing to fantasy land, leave me on shore please, I have no time for that. Clearly if abiotic processes produce hydrocarbons, then there IS no energy shortage. Shouldn't be my purview to babysit your thinking process Len, but apparently someone else has fallen down on the job.
Finally you aren't going to scare me off by throwing out terms like deuterium. Are you merely speculating on how satellites measure temperature or did you read this on yet another quack website? You can go to your local hardware store and purchase for about $25 Canadian a laser thermometer that works surprisingly like the ones NASA builds for about $250million apiece to place in their satellites. No deuterium needed. :)
Don Hirschberg 2.7.09
Jim, I have just recovered heat and power and everything that makes life non-brutish. We have been victims of an extraordinarily ice storm and have been without power for 10 days and 3 hours. You are right, of course, I “cherry picked.” But if I had cited Darwin, Michelson, Einstein, Bohr, et al I would also have been “cheery picking.” I make no apologies.