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« Michael Mann in the Benshi... | Main | Environment correspondents »
Friday
Feb192010

Richard Lindzen in the Boston Globe

Richard Lindzen has a pop at Kerry Emmanuel's Boston Globe op-ed in a letter to the paper's editor.

KERRY EMANUEL’S Feb. 15 op-ed “Climate changes are proven fact’’ is more advocacy than assessment. Vague terms such as “consistent with,’’ “probably,’’ and “potentially’’ hardly change this.

 

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Reader Comments (48)

Apologies as I already posted this in unthreaded, but I think this is well worth posting again here.

In case any of you missed it, a rather interesting talk Richard Lindzen gave to a Fermilab audience of physicists on Feb 10th, entitled The Peculiar Issue of Global Warming, in which he touches on the practice of post-normal science, and why despite mounting empirical, theoretical and logical evidence refuting the AGW hypothesis, none of this is likely to influence mainstream views and policy direction.

Its about an hour long, with an additional 30 minutes if Q&A. If the first link below doesn't work, try the second. real player required, but worth a look.

http://vmsstreamer1.fnal.gov/VMS_Site_03/Lectures/Colloquium/
100210Lindzen/index.htm#

http://vmsstreamer1.fnal.gov/VMS_Site_03/Lectures/Colloquium/
100210Lindzen/f.htm

Feb 19, 2010 at 1:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterDrew

"Even the head of the deservedly maligned Climatic Research Unit..." That's right.

Feb 19, 2010 at 2:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin

I've seen the Great MIT debate with Lindzen and Emanuel: http://mitworld.mit.edu/video/730

The link Emanuel creates between sceptics and the tabacco industry is ridiculous and his rant was full of this kind of innuendo. It shows the colors of Emanuel.

Feb 19, 2010 at 2:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterHoi Polloi

I found the first reply to the letter and subsequent comments chuckle-worthy. These gnomes are losing 'hearts and minds' fast.

Feb 19, 2010 at 4:23 PM | Unregistered Commenterpettyfog

Kevin, I immediately picked up on that line, too. Dick Lindzen is clearly of the view that the CRU has not played honestly, under Phil Jones' directorship.

Feb 19, 2010 at 5:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterPat Frank

Dr. Emanuel's dedication to science and the scientific method is well respected even by his good friend, Dick Lindzen. Emanuel has stayed out of the political fray trying to communicate the science of climate change to the public and why and how the science supports anthropogenic climate change. Emanuel publicly stood up to Al Gore in senate hearings a quarter-century ago when Gore was a senator and making unfounded claims - at that time - that "all scientists agree there is global warming" when Emanuel and the majority of climate scientists did not agree with that. The science, technology, and amount and precision of the data has increased substantially in those 25 years, yet people are still fighting a political battle as if nothing has changed. (It's particularly odd since Gore handed the Right the perfect justification for advancing nuclear power generation and the Right dropped the ball.)

It is a measure of the gross politicization of "climate change", started by Gore and now continued by the political Right, that Emanuel, whose scientific writings clearly shows his expertise in atmospheric sciences and whose extensive 2007 essay in "Boston Review" for the general public raised barely a whimper of protest (see "Phaeton's Reins: The human hand in climate change."
http://e-courses.cerritos.edu/tstolze/Kerry%20Emanuel_%20Phaeton's%20Reins.pdf.), that Emanuel is attacked politically for an opinion piece, which is supported by the extensive science that no one bothers to research.

It really is appalling that the political right which is still fighting Gore 25 years later, and just as appalling that Gore is his own worst enemy, that the science cannot escape absurd political battles and climate scientists are caught in the middle, barely able to utter a word without being attacked politically.

As Emanuel stated in Stoneham a few weeks ago:

"“[The available disinformation in the public] affects the perception of climate change,” Dr. Emanuel said in a recent interview with the Sun regarding the dilemma plaguing not only himself, but the entire scientific community. “The problem is that you have on one side, scientists who by their very nature are never unequivocal about things; we’re always questioning everything. Then on the other side you have people with vested interests, who are making a lawyerly case about this or that.”

“You put the two against each other, and it’s a very lopsided match,” he added. “Public perception has been warped by a rather deliberate campaign of disinformation. But as soon as we become advocates, we cease being scientists.”

...

“It turns out that [Emanuel] has a passionate commitment to talking directly to the public about the science of climate change,” said Breithaupt in an interview. “He doesn’t believe that the science of climate change is being well-explained by the regular media, that it’s being garbled. And the issue has of course become politicized, and he thinks that scientists have a civic duty to talk directly to the public and to give them good information so that they can come to their own conclusions based on the science. So he’s coming out of a sense of civic duty.”

http://www.wickedlocal.com/stoneham/features/x231970315/MIT-professor-delivers-lecture-on-climate-change

If you want to continue fighting a political battle, nothing will ever be solved, science advancement will be affected negatively, policy decisions will be entirely political and ineffective, and no one will ever know how to know rationally what is right and what is wrong.

It shows the true colors and politics of the political Right who want everyone to believe that climate science is "all politics, all the time." Let's cut the nonsense and get back to science.

Feb 19, 2010 at 7:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Albion

Pat Frank, right and now Jones, Mann, et. al. are acting like victims...

What PR company did Jones consult with? He is being presented as this kind, friendly, warm, well-meaning, gentle scientist who was going about his business trusting other scientists and their source data...

And since he was looking at the data this way and not that way like that other scientist, this or that critique does not apply. Apparently people like Steve McIntyre are just looking at the data differently that Jones is...that's all this is...apparent misunderstanding...

There needs to be a reckoning...there have to be consequences for this. The sooner these hockey team members fess up, the sooner this will be over and the sooner we can improve the science...

Feb 19, 2010 at 7:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin

Scientists have a public duty to release their data and methods so that others can replicate their results. Speaking directly to the public, not so much. Sounds like propagandizing to me, not science.

Perfidious Albion.

Feb 19, 2010 at 7:41 PM | Unregistered Commentermojo

George,
By what possible political definition do you claim that AGW is being promoted by the 'right'?

Feb 19, 2010 at 9:04 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

George,

The science, technology, and amount and precision of the data has increased substantially in those 25 years...

Say what? This isn't what I've been reading the last few weeks and months. Precision is a word that I do not associate with the scientists behind IPCC AR4, is there was any science behind AR4.

Feb 19, 2010 at 9:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin

Kevin:

Precision is a word that I do not associate with the scientists behind IPCC AR4, if there was any science behind AR4.

Sticking just with Professor Lindzen, he does think that there is some science behind IPCC AR4, based on his recent presentations, in fact quite a lot of fairly good science in WG1 - though of course WG2 he describes as a disaster area, which has to be right in every sense. Even in WG1 there is pressure, he says from experience, on the real experts doing the drafting not to say anything that calls the overall dogma into question, then distortion in the message given in the Summary to Policymakers and all the more so in the press release and subsequent PR efforts of guys like Pachauri, who are taken by a trusting public (or at least were in days gone by) as reliable conveyors of "what 2000 of the world's leading scientists think".


But the point about precision having increased substantially, as George claims, has a vital and strange corollary, as again Lindzen points out: after all those myriads of model runs, over so many years, the climate sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 is still given as a possible range of 1.5 - 5 degC. That is a startling lack of precision - and it hasn't reduced in all these years. What kind of progress in science is that? (The kind that keeps the billion dollar budgets rolling in, for one. Show the problem is less critical and they inevitably subside too.)

Measurements have of course come in, notably from satellites, with greater precision and coverage than before. The radiation budget satellites especially are proving extremely important. What is holding climate science back is treating runs of the Global Circulation Models as evidence of anything at all. That is a fundamental methodological error and has been from the start - and yet it is only the GCMs that convince the gullible of the possibility of such a high sensitivity to CO2 as 5degC. From which, it is argued, all the catastrophes in WG2 and beyond inexorably flow.

It should be a giveaway that this is the link in the chain that has shown no increase in precision for so many years. It's also the step in argument that was always fallacious. You don't do science by treating software simulations as evidence. The evidence is real world observations, against which software models and everything else must be tested.

We are immensely in debt to Professor Lindzen for making climate science face up to those first principles, again and again, and being unafraid to call shoddy science and corruption publicly by its name.

Feb 20, 2010 at 9:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Thanks for an excellent summary of the Lindzen - Fermilab video Richard.

Feb 20, 2010 at 9:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterDrew

Richard Drake,

it is only the GCMs that convince the gullible of the possibility of such a high sensitivity to CO2 as 5degC. From which, it is argued, all the catastrophes in WG2 and beyond inexorably flow.

This is complete strawman from start to finish. The most likely value for sensitivity is given as 3C, that can be derived without any GCM, and that is plenty to argue for consequences ranging from severe to catastrophic. Take away the models and there is more uncertainty not less, and greater risk not less.

The evidence is real world observations, against which software models and everything else must be tested.

Which is exactly what happens.

Though lack of agreement of Lindzen's own theory with observations doesn't seem to have bothered him much.

Feb 20, 2010 at 3:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

Richard Drake,

Good stuff. I'll continue to read on about Lindzen's assessment of AR4 and it's WG's.

Thanks

Feb 20, 2010 at 4:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin

Mojo, confused, wrote:

"Scientists have a public duty to release their data and methods so that others can replicate their results."

They do, on a massive scale. You seem to fall for the canard that because a few didn't then no one does. That's not rational, mojo.

Feb 20, 2010 at 7:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Albion

Hunter wrote,

"By what possible political definition do you claim that AGW is being promoted by the 'right'?"

I wrote just the opposite, hunter. Read more carefully.

Feb 20, 2010 at 7:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Albion

Kevin wrote,

"Say what? This isn't what I've been reading the last few weeks and months."

Try broadening your reading.

Feb 20, 2010 at 7:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Albion

Frank
Would you show us your derivation, from first principles only, of the 3 degree kelvin climate sensitivity?

You might not be interested in what Richard Lindzen has said about this recently:
"Current climate models predict much higher sensitivities. They do so because in these models, the main greenhouse substances (water vapor and clouds) act to amplify anything that CO2 does. This is referred to as positive feedback. But as the IPCC notes, clouds continue to be a source of major uncertainty in current models. Since clouds and water vapor are intimately related, the IPCC claim that they are more confident about water vapor is quite implausible.

"The question remains as to whether water vapor and clouds have positive or negative feedbacks.

"The notion that the earth's climate is dominated by positive feedbacks is intuitively implausible, and the history of the earth's climate offers some guidance on this matter. About 2.5 billion years ago, the sun was 20%-30% less bright than now (compare this with the 2% perturbation that a doubling of CO2 would produce), and yet the evidence is that the oceans were unfrozen at the time, and that temperatures might not have been very different from today's. Carl Sagan in the 1970s referred to this as the "Early Faint Sun Paradox."

"For more than 30 years there have been attempts to resolve the paradox with greenhouse gases. Some have suggested CO2—but the amount needed was thousands of times greater than present levels and incompatible with geological evidence. Methane also proved unlikely. It turns out that increased thin cirrus cloud coverage in the tropics readily resolves the paradox—but only if the clouds constitute a negative feedback. In present terms this means that they would diminish rather than enhance the impact of CO2.

"There are quite a few papers in the literature that also point to the absence of positive feedbacks. The implied low sensitivity is entirely compatible with the small warming that has been observed.

"So how do models with high sensitivity manage to simulate the currently small response to a forcing that is almost as large as a doubling of CO2? Jeff Kiehl notes in a 2007 article from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the models use another quantity that the IPCC lists as poorly known (namely aerosols) to arbitrarily cancel as much greenhouse warming as needed to match the data, with each model choosing a different degree of cancellation according to the sensitivity of that model."

Finally, Lindzen & Choi, latest work relies on observational satellite data and not on models.

***

A purely first principles calculation of the greenhouse temperature, interesting in that it accurately matches that observed and endorsed by the IPCC (Kiehl, Ramanathan, CUP, 2006) has been derived by Miskolczi & Zagoni.

The logical and mathematical consequence of this agreement between theory and observed data is that runaway global temperatures is not possible, due to the law of conservation of energy. A summary and explanation of this work is presented by Dr Zagoni here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ykgg9m-7FK4

From here you can find further links to the original papers where you can check all the maths and physics for yourself Frank.

Feb 20, 2010 at 8:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterDrew

George,

Try broadening your reading.

Such as? Should I read more of Kerry Emanuel's work? When I watched this forum, I wasn't that impressed with Dr. Emanuel. But maybe he represents his position better somewhere else?

Feb 20, 2010 at 9:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin

Richard Lindzen's Letter to the Editor goes right to the scientific point on the fuzziest, and most thesis-dependent elements of Kerry Emanuel's OpEd piece . . . in particular, when he quite properly nailed him on the "thousand year" gambit that Emanuel had thrown out there.

And after making the proper scientific point, he added (as extra icing) the recent interview concession regarding the Medieval Warm Period made by the central EAU climategate figure, Phil Jones.

That had to leave a mark!

Also, Drew, great catch on the Lindzen video. It is long and at times difficult because until the formal Q&A at the end you can't hear any of the questions some of the attendees throw at him. But it is well worth taking the ime to watch and read. It was very informative.

I was particularly struck by a summary comment he made toward the end that neatly summarized what he had said earlier about the "prosecutor's fallacy" and about the state of the evidence, when he said,

"It's very much what I call the prosecutor's fallacy ... something happened; isn't that proof? Well,no, it isn't proof. I mean these are partial consequences of something that depends on dozens of other variables. That's not proof of anything."

Feb 20, 2010 at 9:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Robbins

Drew,

Would you show us your derivation, from first principles only, of the 3 degree kelvin climate sensitivity?

It's not my derivation. There have been several estimates independent of any models:

"Lorius 1990 examined Vostok ice core data and calculates a range of 3 to 4°C.
Hoffert 1992 reconstructs two paleoclimate records (one colder, one warmer) to yield a range 1.4 to 3.2°C.
Hansen 1993 looks at the last 20,000 years when the last ice age ended and empirically calculates a climate sensitivity of 3 ± 1°C.
Gregory 2002 used observations of ocean heat uptake to calculate a minimum climate sensitivity of 1.5.
Chylek 2007 examines the period from the Last Glacial Maximum to Holocene transition. They calculate a climate sensitivy range of 1.3°C and 2.3°C.
Tung 2007 performs statistical analysis on 20th century temperature response to the solar cycle to calculate a range 2.3 to 4.1°C."

- http://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-sensitivity.htm

See also http://www.iac.ethz.ch/people/knuttir/papers/knutti08natgeo.pdf

Feb 20, 2010 at 9:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

Thank you for the references Frank.

But as you've said, these are all estimates, and estimates with a wide range of error, variability and uncertainty. And in none of these proxy reconstructions is CO2 the only atmospheric variable, with all other GHGs, solar output and so forth held constant.

So I'm still puzzled why you think 3 degrees should have any special credibility, other than it has been arbitrarily chosen by some modellers from an infinite range of random numbers between 1.3 and 4.1 to cite your refs.

And I'm also puzzled by what you mean't in your earlier post that without the models there is increased risk and increased uncertainty. Are you actually saying that the physical world is more uncertain and risky without the climate models?

Feb 20, 2010 at 10:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterDrew

Frank O'Dwyer, of the papers you list, I note that only Gregory 2002 is referenced in the AR4WG1 Chapter 10 (i.e. that part of the IPCC report that discusses CO2 sensitivity). I therefore conclude that the IPCC does not consider the others to be quite as significant as the Skeptical Science blog would have you believe.

Nevertheless, you are correct to focus people's attention to CO2 sensitivity, as this is the single thread by which the whole of the catastrophic AGW narrative hangs. Unfortunately the 'consensus' view is that there is no clear precision about its value and, worse still, that its uncertainty has not improved over the last 20 years.

Coincidentally, I've just watched the recent debate between Richard Lindzen and Gerald North...
http://wmdp.rice.edu/Centers/CSES/ClimateChg-27Jan10/ClimateChg-27Jan10.mp4
...that discusses this exact point. Interestingly, North actually mentioned Hansen's work but did not seem too convinced about the derived value of 3C, favouring instead a value of around 2C.

Based upon the IPCC reports and, quite frankly, the lack of any model predictions that could be used to falsify their underlying hypotheses, I can only conclude that the evidence for CO2 sensitivity of 4C or more (i.e. levels that could cause serious concern) is extremely poor or even non existent. Moreover, the evidence for a sensitivity between 1C and 3C is convincing only if you believe that the models are a sufficiently complete representation of the Earth's climate system. However, given the IPCC's candid acknowledgement that the effects of clouds are still poorly understood, I don't think such a belief is currently justifiable.

Feb 20, 2010 at 11:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Salt

Drew,

But as you've said, these are all estimates, and estimates with a wide range of error, variability and uncertainty. And in none of these proxy reconstructions is CO2 the only atmospheric variable, with all other GHGs, solar output and so forth held constant.

No, but so what? If you want to reject those estimates too, that is to argue that we don't have a clue about CO2 sensitivity and so cannot exclude very high values. Is that supposed to reassure us about rapidly altering CO2 beyond levels that are already unprecedented for hundreds of thousands to millions of years?

So I'm still puzzled why you think 3 degrees should have any special credibility,

Why is it a mystery? That is the assessment of most experts.

other than it has been arbitrarily chosen by some modellers from an infinite range of random numbers between 1.3 and 4.1 to cite your refs.

The estimates above still don't depend on models. Nor are the ranges 'random' some numbers are more likely than others.

As for modellers, they don't arbitrarily choose sensitivity - in fact they don't choose it at all, the models are used to explore hypotheses about how the climate works under different forcings, which are themselves constrained by observations and physics (as are the models). The climate sensitivity is a resulting property of the model and not an assumption.

And I'm also puzzled by what you mean't in your earlier post that without the models there is increased risk and increased uncertainty. Are you actually saying that the physical world is more uncertain and risky without the climate models?

The models represent hypotheses of how the climate works and this understanding is tested against observations. If the models are off the table then that is to argue that we understand less about the climate than we do, and so this must mean that any disastrous outcomes which models exclude for any given scenario can no longer be excluded.

So, for example, if the best models show that varying CO2 means 3C of warming and not 10C you can no longer appeal to them in an argument to exclude 10C. Similarly for the estimates that don't depend on models, to argue against them is to put very high sensitivity back on the table.

Feb 20, 2010 at 11:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

Dave Salt,

I'd be surprised if more of those papers aren't referenced elsewhere in the IPCC report - regardless they refute the notion that sensitivity between 1 and 3 requires you to accept the models.

I think the rest of your comment rests on a misunderstanding of what the models are. Not that this wouldn't be hard!

I found Steve Easterbrook's blog on this pretty informative, e.g.:
http://www.easterbrook.ca/steve/?p=1140 (and other links around there)

Feb 21, 2010 at 12:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

Frank O'Dwyer, whatever the models are they have not been verified by the Scientific Method (i.e. make an unambiguous prediction that can be verified/falsified by real-world observations) and so cannot be used to argue that the science is settled.

Given this situation, I find it rather worrying that their 'scenarios' are being used to justify radical economic and social engineering policies that will, more than likely, have little beneficial effects while holding the potential for major human suffering. That their full implementation may also require the suspension of democracy simply compounds the audacity of those who would have us believe that "the end is nigh".

Feb 21, 2010 at 12:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterDave Salt

Frank O'Dwyer ..The most likely value for sensitivity is given as 3C, that can be derived without any GCM, and that is plenty to argue for consequences ranging from severe to to catastrophic.

Frank O'Dwyer, your only "expertise" lies in quoting studies from AGW proponents. You are blissfully ignorant of the "science", as you call it, regarding the greenhouse effect of CO2 and have an abysmal lack of knowledge of mathematics, by which you can easily work out the falsehood of the GCM predictions.

Without any GCM, the sensitivity of CO2, from a value of 280 ppm is ~1C. According to the GCM's (IPCC assessment), the most probable value of the sensitivity is ~3C. They derive this from positive feedback effects of CO2, the most prominent being that of water vapour.

. ..The evidence is real world observations, against which software models and everything else must be tested.Which is exactly what happens.

Again, as I said, if you had any knowledge of maths you would be able to work out for yourself that is exactly what is NOT happening. That the sensitivity prediction is miserably failing. That the GCM's have at the very least over predicted the warming.

We should thus, as you say, reject these models as not representing the real world.

Feb 21, 2010 at 1:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard

richard,

your only "expertise" lies in quoting studies from AGW proponents. You are blissfully ignorant of the "science", as you call it, regarding the greenhouse effect of CO2 and have an abysmal lack of knowledge of mathematics, by which you can easily work out the falsehood of the GCM predictions.

You forgot to include a rebuttal with your unwarranted insults.

My expertise, about which you know nothing, is not relevant. Several experts have estimated sensitivity (including feedbacks) without a GCM. For some reason you think GCMs are relevant to that.

Without any GCM, the sensitivity of CO2, from a value of 280 ppm is ~1C.

That's without feedbacks, not without GCMs. It only takes basic reading comprehension to see that the studies I referenced DO include the fast feedbacks (how could they not?) and yet don't use a GCM.

[snip further insults and irrelevant and incorrect waffle about GCMs]

Feb 21, 2010 at 12:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

Dave Salt,

Frank O'Dwyer, whatever the models are they have not been verified by the Scientific Method (i.e. make an unambiguous prediction that can be verified/falsified by real-world observations) and so cannot be used to argue that the science is settled.

Like I said, if you don't believe the models then you can't use them to put any bounds on what may happen and can't use them to argue that a particular emission scenario is safe.

Given this situation, I find it rather worrying that their 'scenarios' are being used to justify radical economic and social engineering policies that will, more than likely, have little beneficial effects while holding the potential for major human suffering.

And the basis for your 'more than likely' assessment is? You are implicitly claiming that your model of what will happen is somehow supercedes the experts assessments because you don't use a computer and you don't test it against the real world at all. And this still rests on the strawman that the whole idea is based on computer models.

That their full implementation may also require the suspension of democracy

Nobody has proposed the suspension of democracy as a solution. This is ludicrously alarmist. Some form of Pigou tax on emissions, to make them reflect their real costs, should be sufficient. The market will do the rest.

Feb 21, 2010 at 1:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

Frank O'Dwyer, the model’s poor predictive capabilities are why the argument shifted to the “precautionary principle”, though this simply opened the debate between ‘mitigation’ and ‘adaptation’. Or are you suggesting we are paralysed unless we ‘believe’ in the models?

Concerning my 'more than likely' assessment, I was referring primarily to the consequences of forcing third-world countries to curtail their energy use. Yes. I know you expect the developed world to step in and give them ‘clean’ energy sources However, the plain fact is that the developed world cannot even provide sufficient help to give them clean water and mosquito nets, so any expectation that they’ll provide anything more complex seems, sadly, rather optimistic.

Concerning your comment that “Nobody has proposed the suspension of democracy as a solution”, may I point you to the following statement from an article by Professor Clive Hamilton…
http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,23739,22383639-27197,00.html

“Very few people, even among environmentalists, have truly faced up to what the science is telling us.

This is because the implications of 3C, let alone 4C or 5C, are so horrible that we look to any possible scenario to head it off, including the canvassing of "emergency" responses such as the suspension of democratic processes.”

Of course, there are always Dr Hansen’s rather suggestive concerns that the “democratic process isn't working”…
http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2009/mar/18/nasa-climate-change-james-hansen

However, what really concerns me is when I read articles from moderate AWG believers that raise this specific concern…
http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2010/01/inconvenient-democracy-guest-post-by.html

Were you really unaware of these things or did you simply dismiss them as extreme examples?

Feb 21, 2010 at 11:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Salt

I was just watching the Lidzen presentation at Fermi Lab on line (thanks for posting the link!).

The opening is just a rant with highly biased language, but about 13 minutes in he starts talking about checkable facts and soon as he does his case unravels.

He has just finished saying how variable daily and monthly climate is, but then says that if there is global warming then each time period should be warmer than the last.

Plainly that is incorrect - that can only be the case if the trend is larger than variability over that same period. He is talking days but in a day the GW trend is only 0.2C/(10*365.25) or only about 0.05%.

He knows this is a false argument or should do.

Feb 22, 2010 at 3:51 AM | Unregistered Commenterdrkts

Another error at about 20 minutes in of the same video of Lindzen at the Fermi Lab. He states that the 2.6 inch rise per decade in sea level is no different from what we have seen since the last ice age.

That is true but misleading. Yes, sea level has gone up about 140m in 20,000 years (0.26 inches per year average) BUT what he omits is that the first 125m of that was in the first 15,000 years. The other 5 meters has been in the last 5000 years or about 0.04 inches per year so the rise he is telling us not to be concerned about is 6 times greater than we have experienced since Stonehenge was built.

Again he knows this or he is not the "great" climate scientist he proclaims himself to be.

Feb 22, 2010 at 4:13 AM | Unregistered Commenterdrkts

Yet another mistake by Lindzen - he says the energy input from the Sun is 200 watts/m2 it is nearly twice that (~350 watts/m2) if he cant get that right ....... then anything he calculates is going to be out by a factor of two.

He then goes on to say that the earth 2.5B years ago recieved much less energy from the Sun (30%) but temperatures were the same so inferring the small change from CO2 could make no difference - seems reasonable.

But again he forgets to mention something quite important - that the composition of the atmosphere was different in a special way - there was about 10 times more CO2 and other GHGs in that atmosphere. Our atmosphere was more like Venus is now than ours is today and we all know what it is like on Venus! On cool day your lead freezes.

Feb 22, 2010 at 4:35 AM | Unregistered Commenterdrkts

Frank O'Dwyer:

The models represent hypotheses of how the climate works and this understanding is tested against observations. If the models are off the table then that is to argue that we understand less about the climate than we do, and so this must mean that any disastrous outcomes which models exclude for any given scenario can no longer be excluded.


So, for example, if the best models show that varying CO2 means 3C of warming and not 10C you can no longer appeal to them in an argument to exclude 10C. Similarly for the estimates that don't depend on models, to argue against them is to put very high sensitivity back on the table.


Bollocks. Take away all this and you'd still have the most basic data of all: around .6 deg C rise in the globally averaged temperature anomaly in a hundred years and around 75% of the forcing caused by a doubling of CO2 in the same period.


Lindzen at the start of the Fermilab presentation calls climate science 'a small, primitive field beset by immense uncertainty'. In such a case, without falsifiable predictions that are verified by incoming real-world data (and which models predicted in 95 what's happened to temperature the last 15 years, remind me) the rational thing is to go back to the basic numbers. Happy with a climate sensitivity of 0.8 Frank? It means we can forget looming disaster and get on feeding the poor, not taking away their electricity. The only people who would have anything to lose are some of the recipients of the billions poured into climate science the last twenty years - oh, and the carbon traders, the exchanges and the carbon permit bureaucrats with a trillion or two on their mind. Have an interest to declare anywhere there, Frank?

Feb 22, 2010 at 8:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Morning Frank & Everyone else

Frank, you said "My expertise, about which you know nothing, is not relevant" before appealing to the wisdom of experts.

The thing that is so interesting for me about the BH blog is the high number of participants willing to think for themselves, and question the "experts", on their findings, on their methodology and on their assumptions, rather than simply to accept what they are told like good little boys and girls are supposed to.

Indeed drkts has done exactly this, having watched the Fermilab video. He may or may not be correct, but he has been paying attention and thinking.

This is something that I personally find alarmingly lacking in the MSM, as I'm sure do most of my fellow contributors and our esteemed host.

So your own expertise in thinking is relevant to these discussions Frank, and should not be subordinated to the opinions of experts.

In science particularly, history has shown time and again how new knowledge has ruthlessly usurped previously unassailable expert opinion. It has even happened in cases when observation had hitherto matched closely the older theoretical predictions to an accuracy orders of magnitude higher than present day climate science has attained.

One of the problems I guess a lot of thinking people have with the alarmist climatology camp that has been nurtured, funded and wholesale adopted by politicians, is it's belief that the message is more important than the evidence, and that it must transcend mere normal science and adopt what Ravetz has called "post normal science". This for example is the view of Mike Hulme, prof of climate change (note: not prof of climate science) UEA, expressed in his book.

So when the politicians and bureaucrats who increasingly govern our lives lay claim to this "science" in order to drive and justify seizing ever more control and money from its citizens, marketed as saving the planet (because who on this earth would disagree that saving the planet is a bad thing?) this is why it's so highly important it be put to the test and held to account.

By everyone who is willing to think for themselves, no matter their expertise.

Feb 22, 2010 at 10:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterDrew

Lindzen's climate sensitivity discussion seems fishy. He argues two ways that th ecurrent models are too high (2-4.5C per watt/m2).

First he uses real life events like volcanic eruptions to say that the warming/cooling is too small and the lag too long. I don't know about the latter point but the former seems odd as volcanoes spew lots of stuff that warm some parts of the atmosphere (the strosphere for example) and cool others (the lower troposphere). With this combination of cooling and warming elements fighting each other you just cannot say the process is linear because you will always get a sensitivity that is too small.

He them talks about his recent paper on his ERBE analysis. It has been roundly criticized in scientific circles on a number of grounds. First he ignored the advice of the PI group that built the experiment and averaged over long periods which would introduce an orbital bias into the calculation which he subsequently ignores. Secondly he compares his results for the tropics where ther has been very little global warming with model results for the entire globe and say "Look! they don't agree, the models are all wrong." It is like saying "Look the apple is not an orange, I told you that fruit was not reliable". There are a bunch of other highly technical objections that I must admit are beyong my field of expertise and were as boring as hell to read!

Basically his ERBE analysis is built on sand.

It is interesting that for nearly a decade he told us that global warming was not happening, then he suddenly changed his mind when the evidence became overwhleming and wrote a book saying that it is happening, we cant do anything about it and it wont be catastrophic.

Feb 22, 2010 at 11:39 AM | Unregistered Commenterdrkts

Drew says: "One of the problems I guess a lot of thinking people have with the alarmist climatology camp that has been nurtured, funded and wholesale adopted by politicians, is it's belief that the message is more important than the evidence, and that it must transcend mere normal science and adopt what Ravetz has called "post normal science". "

The odd thing about that view is that it is the scientists who went to George Bush snr and told him there was a problem long before there was anyone on the political global warming bandwagon. He looked at the evidence and bacame alarmed enough about to call on the UN to form the IPCC.

GW Bush created a funding environment that was hostile to "global warming alarmists" and ended up cutting climate research $s by a factor of at least 2. He cancelled several climate missions (e.g., Triana which would have answered Lindzen's radiation budget issue) and climate monitoring instruments on NOAA's GOES and NPOESS satellites (the IR sounder on GOES R for example). Yet the drum beat of warnings from the climate science community went on.

So the theory that these are just money grubbing scientists who are prosituted to the goverment will seems to be full of holes.

The main hole in the climate funding hog argument is that most climate scientists work for the government (NOAA, NASA, DoE, NSF, EPA) and have civil service jobs for life and so they will get their pay checks no matter what conclusion they come to. Academics vie for grants it is true, but these mostly pay for graduate and post doc students research, not their personal salaries which generally come their universities.

Funny you should mention funding. Lindzen is now infamous for being a "Have Degree, Will Travel" attitude to science.

In the early 90's he was a strong advocate for the tobacco industry first saying that there were no harmful effects from smoking and then changing his tune to foocus on second hand smoke not being an issue. He gave equally convincing lectures as this one to anyone who would listen on that subject. When that source of funding dried up for him he started on climate change. He has strongly denied taking any money from the oil companies until a Boston globe reporter found evidence of direct payments to him from Exxon for testifying to Congress. He lamely said he did not ask where the money came from. When your check is signed by the chairman of Exxon it is a little hard to deny any link .... but then again he is good at denial.

Feb 22, 2010 at 12:05 PM | Unregistered Commenterdrkts

You began, drkts, with:

[Lindzen] has just finished saying how variable daily and monthly climate is, but then says that if there is global warming then each time period should be warmer than the last.

Lindzen never said anything remotely like that at Fermilab and would never be so stupid. At that point I assumed you were completely unreliable and not worth reading. You then don't give a single source for your claims. Please do so on each of the substantive points, thanks. Something about your own background would also help to know if it's worth reading any more, given the very sloppy start.

Feb 22, 2010 at 2:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Kevin wrote,

"But maybe he represents his position better somewhere else?"

Sure. I gave you one already above: (see "Phaeton's Reins: The human hand in climate change."
http://e-courses.cerritos.edu/tstolze/Kerry%20Emanuel_%20Phaeton's%20Reins.pdf.)

Review his work:

http://wind.mit.edu/~emanuel/home.html

Feb 22, 2010 at 4:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Albion

George,

Alright...I'll check out these Emanuel links.

Thanks

Feb 22, 2010 at 4:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin

Richard Drake,

Bollocks. Take away [all other estimates of sensitivity and the models] and you'd still have the most basic data of all: around .6 deg C rise in the globally averaged temperature anomaly in a hundred years and around 75% of the forcing caused by a doubling of CO2 in the same period.

[...] = my paraphrase

The figure is more like 0.7 deg C rise over the 20th century. Over the same period CO2 increased by no more than 36% (actually less - but I don't know the figure for 1900, so I'm using the pre-industrial figures). Since the response to CO2 is logarithmic, that is no more than 44% of the forcing caused by a doubling of CO2 alone (log(1.36)/log(2) = ~0.44).

So even using your own argument this would mean a sensitivity of 1.6C.

But your argument is bollocks for other reasons - it assumes there was no other forcing that would cause cooling, and it assumes the response is instantaneous, neither of which is true.

In particular since the response isn't instantaneous, there is no way to know how much longer it takes to reach equilibrium. Maybe we've seen 100% of the warming, maybe we've seen 10% of it.

How would we figure out which is most likely - well, we could use a model...oh you don't like that. Well, we could look at other periods in the earth's history...oh you don't like that either. No wonder, since when people do that the figure of 3C keeps coming up.

So, as I said, given your argument, you have no way to rule out sensitivity of any magnitude including 10C or even more. You HAVE to appeal to some kind of physical model in order to put constraints on this - whether the model requires a computer or pen and paper is neither here nor there.

Lindzen at the start of the Fermilab presentation calls climate science 'a small, primitive field beset by immense uncertainty'

Which, if you believe that, means his own opinion is at best as much of a shot in the dark as any other. So those wishing to rule out high sensitivity will find no comfort in those words.

Well, not if they are intellectually honest.

the rational thing is to go back to the basic numbers.

And the basic numbers over the earth's history all point to a number > 1.5C and most likely 3C. And no real way to rule out surprises either side of that.

Happy with a climate sensitivity of 0.8 Frank?

I'd be delighted with a low figure for sensitivity but wishing won't make it so. And the argument you present certainly doesn't.

Feb 22, 2010 at 9:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

Dave Salt

model’s poor predictive capabilities are why the argument shifted to the “precautionary principle”,

The models' predictive capabilities aren't as poor as you claim. In any case, you seem determined to ignore that there are estimates of sensitivity that do not depend on models. Why?

though this simply opened the debate between ‘mitigation’ and ‘adaptation’. Or are you suggesting we are paralysed unless we ‘believe’ in the models?

Well, what do you propose to adapt to if, as you claim, there is no way to know what may happen? As far as that goes, this would be close to my own view.

Concerning my 'more than likely' assessment, I was referring primarily to the consequences of forcing third-world countries to curtail their energy use

But you also said that mitigation is unlikely to produce any benefit. This seems to suggest you have some way of predicting the effect of cutting emissions - what model are you using? If you don't believe in the predictive powers of models, why do you believe in your own predictive powers?

As for forcing third-world countries to curtail their energy use, how does this follow from the notion of cutting emissions?

You are trading off (what should be, according to your argument) unknowns against unknowns - yet your answers are amazingly certain. How?

Re 'suspension of democratic processes':

Were you really unaware of these things or did you simply dismiss them as extreme examples?

Such an idea is certainly well outside the mainstream and I have never come across anyone proposing it at all, never mind seriously proposing it. This is the moralistic fallacy in any case, and has no bearing at all on the science or whether the warming is a problem. It is like arguing that evolutionary theory is false because eugenicists believed in it.

The mainstream solutions that have been suggested are the likes of cap and trade or some kind of revenue neutral carbon tax. My preference would be the second, but it seems unlikely to happen. If those aren't acceptable that isn't a reason to deny there is a problem - suggest something else.

Feb 22, 2010 at 10:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

The evolution of scientific knowledge; Emanuel et al:

23 February 2010
"Updated WMO Consensus Perspective on Tropical Cyclones"

http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2010/02/updated-wmo-consensus-perspective-on.html

Feb 23, 2010 at 4:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Albion

Frank, I don't have long tonight and will come back to your response later this week. Suffice to say for now that my bollocks were a lot bigger than yours - in that mine referred to your ridiculous (and dangerous) assertion that a sensitivity of 10C was a possibility, which it clearly isn't, based on the real world data we have for sure, as you now clearly admit. I was aware that I was simplifying the situation in the last two hundred years. Going from memory Lindzen makes the point about CO2 having reached the 75% theoretical forcing level since the industrial revolution so I think you'd be right to correct me on that detail - feel free to say more about what Lindzen actually claims, if you have time to look it up. The most important factor you've failed to mention is that the 'globally averaged temperature anomaly' is generally agreed to have been rising since the end of the Little Ice Age and we don't have any idea when that 'natural process' stopped. It was clearly not caused by man, for the first well, how long? From the 1600s to 1850? That is another of the many places where we are plunged into a great deal of uncertainty, as you'd expect in a 'small, primitive field'. Of course Lindzen is caught up in that predicament too. He just appears to be doing a much better job of sticking to real world data and avoiding the very unlikely speculations of those like Hansen in 1988 that led to the massive increase in funding ordered by George HW Bush, from around $300 million to $2 billion a year.

You have still not been fully honest in two ways. First, in acknowledging that the idea of a sensitivity of 10C was ridiculous, because you were leaving out the most basic data of all, which you must have known. But you have also failed to answer my final question as to your own interest. That unfortunately became an issue for every climate scientist (and thus for those of us trying to understand what any of them are trying to teach us) with the Bush increases in funding and the corresponding measure taken in other countries since.

Feb 23, 2010 at 8:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Richard Drake,

"in that mine referred to your ridiculous (and dangerous) assertion that a sensitivity of 10C was a possibility, which it clearly isn't"

That is not my assertion - it is simply a reductio ad absurdum of your own argument. It is an implication of your argument that 10C is not only a possibility, you can't even say it is unlikely. After all, you're the one who says we can only use 20th century temps, not models, or paleo, physical understanding, or any of that.

Of course if any of that is back on the table then so is 3C.

You see, an argument isn't a bus - you can't get off at your stop.

"Lindzen makes the point about CO2 having reached the 75% theoretical forcing level since the industrial revolution so I think you'd be right to correct me on that detail "

Adding 'since the industrial revolution' still doesn't make his claim correct. I cannot watch the video (I tried - realplayer not working on my mac) but Lindzen has made a similar claim before, given the '75%' I am pretty sure it is the same one as here. If so then it is just wrong and is based on underestimating pretty much everything to get the answer he wants. AFAIK He even assigns a value of 0 to aerosols (rather hypocritical given his claims that modellers use whatever value they want for this!).

"Of course Lindzen is caught up in that predicament too. He just appears to be doing a much better job of sticking to real world data"

Snort.

" But you have also failed to answer my final question as to your own interest. "

I don't recall offering to answer every insulting and cowardly insinuation you can pull out of your ass.

Your implied conspiracy theory (whether I am supposed to be a part of it or not) is not merely insulting, it is idiotic. There has been about 3 billion spent on climate change research over the last 20 years. If you want to pretend it is a business, then that is the turnover. A single oil company, Exxon Mobil, makes that much in profit in less than 1 month, every month.

So if you want to 'follow the money' and you really want to go looking for a conspiracy, the choice is clear. Especially when you note how cheap it would be to fund a disinformation PR campaign, in which so many ideological deniers and sloppy journalists will unknowingly work for free. Whereas your theory requires thousands of scientists (and much of the natural world, apparently) to engage in an elaborate fraud for a pittance.

"You have still not been fully honest in two ways."

One of them failed reading comprehension on your part, the other having the impertinence not to answer your wild and cowardly insinuations.

Feb 23, 2010 at 9:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

Frank O'Dwyer, can you quantify the models' predictive capabilities? Some have attempted this…
http://rankexploits.com/musings/2010/hadcrut-compared-to-ipcc-simulations-ending-dec-2009/
…but their results only demonstrate that the models over-predict warming and so cannot be trusted to any useful degree.

You then ask why I seem determined to ignore that there are estimates of sensitivity that do not depend on models. Well, maybe there are but that doesn’t mean their conclusions are meaningful. However, if you believe in them so much, can you explain why the IPCC didn’t reference them in AR4WG1, Chapter 10?

As for what I propose to adapt to if there is no way to know what may happen, I propose that we treat each threat individually, as it arises; the sort of thing man has been doing since the dawn of history and, on the whole, with great success. Mitigation on the scale that would be necessary to reach CO2 cuts of 80% or greater, the only level that will do any good (if you believe the models), will require massive social and economic changes that will probably reek more havoc than the climate changes you so fear. Now, I’m not saying that mitigation is unlikely to produce any benefit, but the question is: would mitigation result in an overall benefit? From what I can deduce, the answer is “no” and would certainly be the case if CO2 proves to have a negligible impact on climate. For example, I certainly agree that decarbonising would wean the west off oil. Unfortunately, it also rules out the possibility of changing to a methane based economy (e.g. by exploiting under-sea hydrates), which would not only be more sustainable but also be far easier to adapt transportation to than, say, hydrogen.

Your question about forcing third-world countries to curtail their energy use seems rather disingenuous because, as you know, the argument isn’t about cutting their emissions but preventing them from developing and so increasing their emissions.

As for the suggestions about suspending democracy, I never said they were now mainstream policy. I simply quoted a number of high profile people who were either raising the possibility or, as in the case of von Storch, becoming very concerned about it. Do you really think we could achieve a greater than 80% cut in CO2 without drastic social and economic changes, especially given the failure of Copenhagen? If the US were to see such drastic world-wide cuts as being absolutely necessary for its national security, how do you think it would react to either China or Indian openly refusing to stop burning coal in order to grow maintain and grow their economies?

I certainly don’t have all the answers and never pretended to. However, I can read up on things and use whatever rational though processes I still have to draw my own conclusions. To date, I’ve read nothing to suggest that the increase in atmospheric CO2 is a credible threat to the future of mankind. However, I’ve seen numerous past examples of people posing threats that turned out be not quite as bad as predicted. I’ve also seen genuine threats being overcome or sidestepped by ingenious solutions that no one had previously considered (“necessity is the mother of invention”). Worse still, I’ve seen good people act in ways that have resulted in massive disasters (“the road to hell is paved with good intentions”) so that I have an inherent mistrust of anyone pushing ‘silver bullet’ solutions, especially those that involve the central planning of national economies.

I think the current discussion has run its natural course because I see nothing you’ve presented that’s changed my mind and, I suspect, the same is true for you. Naturally, you’re welcome to have the final word.

Feb 24, 2010 at 11:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Salt

So, Lindzen's boss thinks he is wrong. In fact most climatologists think Lindzen is wrong. Some people will go to doctor after doctor until they hear what they want. If the first nine doctors tell you to lose weight, eat better and get more exercise but the tenth one says not to worry, it is tempting to go with the tenth doctor, but this is not wise.

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Dec 18, 2010 at 9:54 AM | Unregistered Commenterwomen's ugg kenly

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