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« Tamsin and the hornet's nest | Main | Polite discourse shocker »
Wednesday
Jul312013

Donoughue's parting gift

This is a guest post by Doug Keenan. 

The recent Bishop Hill post “Answers, non-answers” listed the replies to eight Parliamentary Questions, which had been tabled pursuant to suggestions in the Bishop Hill Discussion “Questions to suggest to Lord Donoughue”.  Replies to a further six Questions are now available, as shown below.  Lord Donoughue is very much grateful to those who suggested the Questions.  He would be happy to consider suggestions for further Questions—although Questions can now not be tabled until after the summer recess.

As noted earlier, there are strict rules on the wording of Parliamentary Questions; the wordings below were obtained after discussions between Lord Donoughue and the officials at the Lords Table.

A) Lord Donoughue to ask Her Majesty’s Government by how many degrees they forecast global temperatures will be reduced, compared with a baseline case of what would happen without intervention, as a direct result of the emissions reductions mandated by the Climate Change Act 2008 by (1) 2050, and (2) 2100. [HL1483]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): The United Kingdom's 80% emissions reduction target for 2050 is derived from estimates of the UK's share of the global effort needed in order to keep the increase in global average temperature to below 2 Degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The UK does not have emissions reduction target set for 2100. The UK's emissions reductions alone would result in a small but crucial proportion of total global emissions reductions, as all countries need to contribute to achieving the 2 degree goal. It is vital that we show leadership and demonstrate that the shift to a low carbon model is achievable in order to influence other major emitters to take action.

B) Lord Donoughue to ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the mean residential time of anthropogenically emitted carbon dioxide in the simulated atmospheres of the general circulation models that are run by the Met Office.[HL1484]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): Carbon dioxide does not have a mean residence time in the atmosphere as there are a range of processes that exchange carbon dioxide between the atmosphere and other carbon reservoirs, operating on a wide range of time-scales. An indication of residence time can be seen from experiments using the Met Office Hadley Centre's Earth system model, HadGEM2-ES, in which for the current climate, the fraction of a pulse of carbon dioxide remaining in the modelled atmosphere after 20 and 100 years is 62% and 45% respectively1. This compares closely with other models used in the experiments in the paper referenced.

 

1 Joos et al. 2013, Carbon dioxide and climate impulse response functions for the computation of greenhouse gas metrics: a multi-model analysis. Atmos. Chem. Phys., 13, 2793-2825. doi:10.5194/acp-I 3-2793-2013.

C) Lord Donoughue to ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their estimate of the total cost by 2030 of the investments required to achieve their full plan for power and gas generation, including all renewables, connection, transmission, distribution, storage, systems and meters.[HL1485]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): The 2011 EMR White Paper calculated that up to £110 billion of investment in electricity generation and transmission was likely to be required by 2020 (75 billion could be needed in new electricity generation capacity, and Ofgem's 'Project Discovery' estimated that around an additional £35 billion of investment is needed for electricity transmission and distribution). These figures are in the process of being updated. Investment needs beyond this period are subject to a number of uncertainties and only therefore near term investment needs to 2020 are reported.

D) Lord Donoughue to ask Her Majesty’s Government what proportion of the carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere over the globe in the most recent year for which figures are available is anthropogenic.[HL1522]

Baroness Verma: Latest published assessments of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, collated by the Global Carbon Project, suggest that anthropogenic sources represent about 6% of total CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. However, although natural CO2 emissions are much larger than those from anthropogenic sources, the fluxes between natural CO2 sources and sinks are essentially in balance within the carbon cycle and the impact of anthropogenic emissions is such that they have been responsible for the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration since pre-industrial times. This is the main driver of long-term global temperature rise.

1 Le Quéré et al, 2013. The global carbon budget 1959-2011. Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 5, 165-185. doi: 10.5194/essd-5-165-2013.

E) Lord Donoughue to ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have conducted an assessment of the prime causes of the warming of the world during 1911–40; and if so, what conclusions they have drawn.[HL1791]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): The Met Office has conducted studies into the warming of global mean temperatures during the 1911-1940 period1,2,3 as well as later periods, as have other scientific investigators4,5 These studies find evidence that a number of factors combined to cause the observed warming during the 1911-1940 period, including increases in greenhouse concentrations, a paucity of major volcanic eruptions, increasing solar output and natural variability within the climate system, such as changes in ocean circulation.

1 Stott P.A. et al., 2000, External Control of 20th Century Temperature by Natural and Anthropogenic Forcing, Science, 290, 2133-2137.

2 Stott P.A. et al. 2001, Attribution of twentieth century temperature change to natural and anthropogenic causes, Climate Dynamics 17, 1-21.

3 Tett S.F.B. et al., 2002, Estimation of natural and anthropogenic contributions to 20th Century temperature change, 107, 4306.

4 Hegerl, G. C., et al., 2007, Understanding and attributing climate change, in Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, edited by S. Solomon, et al., pp. 663-745.

5 Min, S.-K., and Hense, A., 2006: A Bayesian assessment of climate change using multimodel ensembles. Part I: Global mean surface temperature. Journal of Climate, 19, 3237-3256.

F) Lord Donoughue to ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Verma on 2 July (WA 202–3), whether the Met Office has yet set a date by which, in the event of no further increase in global temperatures, it would conclude that the global warming predicted via its general circulation models has been disproved.[HL1792]

Baroness Verma: My understanding is that no such date has been formally set by the Met Office.

Note: the first Question, HL1483, has previously been discussed in the post “More slipperiness from Baroness Verma”.

 Update at 10.50am (from comment by Doug Keenan at 9.27am):

One other Parliamentary Question was also submitted by Lord Donoughue, but was rejected on procedural grounds. The Question was this:

"[Lord Donoughue] to ask Her Majesty’s Government if they still accept the opinion of their Government Chief Scientific Adviser, given in 2004, that by the end of this century the most habitable place on Earth will be the Antarctic, and if not what were the grounds for the change".

A reference for the statement by the GCSA (then David King) is here—see especially page 37.

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Reader Comments (56)

This presentation will make commenting a muddle; can we not take these replies one by one?

[I have added A, B, C... to identify the questions. Today's Moderator]

Jul 31, 2013 at 9:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

One other Parliamentary Question was also submitted by Lord Donoughue, but was rejected on procedural grounds. The Question was this: “To ask Her Majesty’s Government if they still accept the opinion of their Government Chief Scientific Adviser, given in 2004, that by the end of this century the most habitable place on Earth will be the Antarctic, and if not what were the grounds for the change”.

A reference for the statement by the GCSA (then David King) is here—see especially page 37.

Jul 31, 2013 at 9:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterDouglas J. Keenan

I am bemused by the answer to the last question. So the "stand still" can continue for years and temperatures can even decline and yet the MET Office and Government will continue to believe in CAGW. Meantime USA are bringing back manufacturing jobs from Asia because of the shale revolution despite President Obama's best efforts to frustrate these developments with his own version of CAGW.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/industry/10211889/Britain-is-playing-catch-up-to-the-US-manufacturing-boom.html
When will our Government "see the light"?

Jul 31, 2013 at 9:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Peter

If Baroness Slippery is not willing to answer all questions accurately,, and in full, (referring particularly to question one) then what are the public paying this useless entity several hundred pounds a day for. It is quite clear even to a primary school child that the answer to the question requires a precise number, which is not even particularly difficult to calculate.

If no proper answer is forthcoming after one more try, then she should be removed from office.

Jul 31, 2013 at 9:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

Is it not incredible that the Met Office believes that running computer models, and varying the parameters, are experiments?

Jul 31, 2013 at 9:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

A further question might be:

To ask HMG why they are implementing further levies on consumer bills in order to switch on coal-fired stations quickly, to try to avoid blackouts caused by wind farms which were intended to cut back on coal?

http://www.thegwpf.org/uk-government-subsidise-coal-power-plants-wind-farms/

Jul 31, 2013 at 9:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

Words fail me. We are led by donkeys (no insult meant to donkeys).

Jul 31, 2013 at 9:55 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Question for Barroness Barmy

Due to the poor "prediction rate"of the Met Office lately are there any plans to take Climate Change Prediction away from the Met Office and give it to some one else.Let them go back to general weather forecasting.

Jul 31, 2013 at 10:01 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

''These studies find evidence that a number of factors combined to cause the observed warming during the 1911-1940 period, including increases in greenhouse concentrations, a paucity of major volcanic eruptions, increasing solar output and natural variability within the climate system, such as changes in ocean circulation.''

Firstly, I thought CO₂ emissions were only meant to have started having an effect much later. Secondly, volcanic eruptions might cause a relative cooling but surely a 'paucity' would only allow an underlying increase to become evident, it couldn't cause a warming of itself. That only leaves increasing solar output and natural variability, which is what most sceptics have been saying caused the recent warming all along. Is the noble baroness trying to say she's a sceptic after all?

Jul 31, 2013 at 10:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterBloke down the pub

I think you are very lucky to have someone like Lord D. who is prepared to crowdsource questions and put them. The cumulative effect of the responses demonstrates just how threadbare these policies are. Very often the answer is that they don't know because they haven't done the work, or won't do the work. I'll bet someone, somewhere knows the answers to simple questions like the expected effect on world temperatures of their policies, but for some reason the answer is not forthcoming. Could embarrassment be a factor here?

Is Baroness Verma the Minister, or just the Minister's representative in the Lords? If the latter, she would not have much, probably no, say in the answers she is given to supply to these questions.

Jul 31, 2013 at 10:26 AM | Registered Commenterjohanna

Imagine, for a few moments, that recent governments had been persuaded by some well-connected astrologers to follow their advice. Of course some of their predictions, especially the vaguest and more routine ones, will have been found to be consistent with subsequent observations.

Now imagine the challenge of formulating PQs that would expose this particular foolishness. The style we have seen in some of the responses to Lord Donoughue would surely be apparent in the answers obtained.

The astrologers' scientifically correct star maps and planetary trajectories would be given prominence, as would their occasional 'successes'. Leading astronomers would be trundled out to confirm that yes indeed, Mars was aligned with whatever during some period of interest.

Meanwhile, in the once smoke-filled rooms where such plots are fashioned, encouragement (if it were needed!) would be given to sympathetic journalists to portray critics of all this as star-blind, orbit-deniers funded by dark forces and part of a globally-orchestrated campaign of unprecedented proportions to confuse governments and delay or destroy much-needed legislation.

Do we need to coin a new word, climastrology, to help us synthesise all that has been going on in recent decades?

Added a little later: an earlier reference to 'climastrology' from a quick, but still rather late, Google is this one: http://pjmedia.com/blog/global-warming-as-climastrology/

Jul 31, 2013 at 10:37 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Is it not incredible that the Met Office believes that running computer models, and varying the parameters, are experiments?
Jul 31, 2013 at 9:48 AM Peter Stroud

No it is not incredible. It is standard practice in Climate Science. (Professor Michael Kelly took exception to runs of computer models being described as experiments in one of the post climategate "enquiries".)

For me it is one of the characteristics that indicate that Climate Science overall is not science.

Jul 31, 2013 at 10:39 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Peter Stroud -

Most people accept that an experiment is an empirical method that arbitrates between competing models or hypotheses, so I think more appropriate terminology would have been "scenario modelling".

So a question to ask may be why the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) elects to use the word "experimentation" rather than "scenario modelling" when she is referring to The Met Office Hadley Centre's computer modelling?

Do successive runs of a model actually increase the sum total of our knowledge and understanding?

Jul 31, 2013 at 10:43 AM | Registered Commentermatthu

@ johanna

Baroness Verma is a government minister, albeit not in the cabinet:
https://www.gov.uk/government/ministers
She is the person responsible for the Answers, because it is her name that is recorded in Hansard. Nonetheless, she is dependent upon her officials (e.g. Met Office employees) to write the Answers.

Jul 31, 2013 at 10:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterDouglas J. Keenan

"the fraction of a pulse of carbon dioxide remaining in the modelled atmosphere after 20 and 100 years is 62% and 45% respectively1."

This appears to be so wrong that I start questioning my eyesight, my ability to read, and my sanity. It is contradicted by the facts of the 14C isotope spike(s) from the atomic bomb tests. Even wikipedia manages

The atmospheric half-life for removal of 14CO2 has been estimated to be roughly 12 to 16 years in the northern hemisphere.
And this is conservative upper bound because it returns back out of some small rapidly exchanging sinks.

The graph:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Radiocarbon_bomb_spike.svg


Most of it has gone from the atmosphere.

Jul 31, 2013 at 10:57 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

F) (...) whether the Met Office has yet set a date by which, in the event of no further increase in global temperatures, it would conclude that the global warming predicted via its general circulation models has been disproved.[HL1792]

Baroness Verma: My understanding is that no such date has been formally set by the Met Office.

If they are going to do it at all, they had better hurry up.

Any proper modelling excercise would have such criteria determined as part of the validation process before the models were put into use. And the global warming would have been regarded as a hypothesis, rather than as a fact - another indication that 'climate science' is simply not science.

As someone said, the output of a model is an illustration of a hypothesis. It is not evidence (other than in 'climate science').

Jul 31, 2013 at 10:59 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Michael Hart I agree that the number looked impossible. I can't see how an exponential decay curve can pass through both points. Either the Baroness and her advisers are innumerate, or they are positing some kind of supernatural intervention that causes CO2 to change its rate of removal from the atmosphere at 5 or 10 years from emission.

Jul 31, 2013 at 11:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S

Most of it has gone from the atmosphere.
Jul 31, 2013 at 10:57 AM michael hart

michael hart: The Met Office uses (I believe) the so-called Bern model to represent the lifetime of CO2 in the atmosphere. This is a model (unvalidated, so far as I can tell) that predicts *very* different results from the C14 results. Not only is it unvalidated, it has aspects that are 'physically unrealisable' (as a professor of electrical network synthesis would say).

The 'climate science' argument is that, as the molecules of C14 O2 were absorbed from the atmosphere, they were replaced by others, so the effective duration of an injected pulse of CO2 is much longer than the residence time of individual molecules.

That is one of the slithery foundations on which the whole CAGW/AGW edifice is constructed on.

Jul 31, 2013 at 11:07 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

To ask HMG to name two scientists, out of the millions not ultimately funded by governments, who support the alleged "scientific consensus" that we are experiencing or about to experience catastrophic global warming.

To ask HMG how the police investigation into the truth of court testimony by the BBC and employees such as Helen Boaden that they had the agreement of a symposium of 28 leading scientists with "a multiplicity of views" to their policy of censoring dissent on alleged catastrophic warming ,is proceeding.

Jul 31, 2013 at 11:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterNeil Craig

Thanks Doug. I see that she is a Parliamentary Under Secretary, with three senior Ministers above her. If it works anything like it does in Australia, assistant Ministers and Parly Secs just do as they are told by the senior Minister. Things like answers to questions are vetted through a senior Minister's office, and they rarely, if ever, get a say in it.

I'm guessing that's one reason why Lord D. was not happy about personal criticism of her (in the Discussion thread). He also thinks she is basically a nice person, which is not as uncommon as people might think across party lines.

Jul 31, 2013 at 11:11 AM | Registered Commenterjohanna

@ michael hart  10:57 AM

There seems to be an order-of-magnitude difference in the times of ¹²CO₂ and ¹⁴CO₂ to equilibrate with the ocean surface. For a review, see e.g. Broecker W.S., “Radiocarbon”, Treatise on Geochemistry (editors—Holland H.D. & Turekian K.K.) §4.09 (Elsevier, 2003).

Jul 31, 2013 at 11:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterDouglas J. Keenan

@ johanna

I'm sure she is a nice person. Most people are, actually, I find. With the obvious exception of trolls, you don't often come across people who set out to be gratuitously obnoxious.

Jul 31, 2013 at 11:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

We produce 6% of the total CO2 input, yet it is only anthropogenic CO2 that impacts the climate. How does the climate tell the difference? Shades of the debate by David Coe. Strange stuff. It must be that we humans produce the wrong sort of CO2 and even that doesn't seem to work all year round, at least in the CET. Since 1988, the only season showing an upward trend is Autumn and that is influenced by two high years, 2006 and 2011.

Here is Corinne Le Le Quéré's Tyndall page, http://www.tyndall.ac.uk/people/corinne-le-quere

She is Professor of Climate Change Science and Policy at the University of East Anglia and Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.

She is described thus:

"Prof Le Quéré was author of the 3rd, 4th and 5th (ongoing) Assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. She co-Chairs the Global Carbon Project, a non-governmental organization that fosters International research on the carbon cycle and publishes annual updates global emissions and sinks of carbon dioxide."

Surely she didn't write the whole TAR, FAR and Even Further, herself?

Here's an interesting website, linked from Prof Le Quéré's page:
http://www.tyndall.ac.uk/communication/news-archive/2011/tyndall-cardiff-launched-climate-change-consortium-wales-conference

"Tyndall Cardiff’s research is led by the University's Understanding Risk Group that focuses on the psychological and social dimensions of climate change mitigation and adaptation. Qualitative and quantitative social science methods inform their work to understand public and stakeholder responses to climate change, and sustainability decision-making by citizens, consumers, businesses, policy-makers and other groups.

The Group is based in Cardiff University’s School of Psychology, the largest psychology department in the UK with internationally-recognised expertise in a range of psychological fields."

We are thinking the wrong thoughts:

http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/originals/wrong_thoughts.html

Jul 31, 2013 at 11:32 AM | Registered Commenterdennisa

We produce 6% of the total CO2 input, yet it is only anthropogenic CO2 that impacts the climate. How does the climate tell the difference? Shades of the debate by David Coe. Strange stuff. It must be that we humans produce the wrong sort of CO2 and even that doesn't seem to work all year round, at least in the CET. Since 1988, the only season showing an upward trend is Autumn and that is influenced by two high years, 2006 and 2011.

Here is Corinne Le Le Quéré's Tyndall page, http://www.tyndall.ac.uk/people/corinne-le-quere

She is Professor of Climate Change Science and Policy at the University of East Anglia and Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.

She is described thus:

"Prof Le Quéré was author of the 3rd, 4th and 5th (ongoing) Assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. She co-Chairs the Global Carbon Project, a non-governmental organization that fosters International research on the carbon cycle and publishes annual updates global emissions and sinks of carbon dioxide."

Surely she didn't write the whole TAR, FAR and Even Further, herself?

This link describes how the annual carbon budget is produced:
http://www.earth-syst-sci-data-discuss.net/5/1107/2012/essdd-5-1107-2012.html

"Accurate assessment of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and their redistribution among the atmosphere, ocean, and terrestrial biosphere is important to better understand the global carbon cycle, support the climate policy process, and project future climate change.

Present-day analysis requires the combination of a range of data, algorithms, statistics and model estimates and their interpretation by a broad scientific community. Here we describe datasets and a methodology developed by the global carbon cycle science community to quantify all major components of the global carbon budget, including their uncertainties.

All uncertainties are reported as ±1 sigma (68% confidence assuming Gaussian error distributions that the real value lies within the given interval), reflecting the current capacity to characterise the annual estimates of each component of the global carbon budget."

Jul 31, 2013 at 12:12 PM | Registered Commenterdennisa

Sorry about the double post, my 14 minutes ran out!

Jul 31, 2013 at 12:13 PM | Registered Commenterdennisa

@ michael hart 10:57 AM

There seems to be an order-of-magnitude difference in the times of ¹²CO₂ and ¹⁴CO₂ to equilibrate with the ocean surface. For a review, see e.g. Broecker W.S., “Radiocarbon”, Treatise on Geochemistry (editors—Holland H.D. & Turekian K.K.) §4.09 (Elsevier, 2003).

Jul 31, 2013 at 11:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterDouglas J. Keenan
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Thanks, Doug, unfortunately it's paywalled.

Variable and poorly characterised isotope effects is one of my main objections to the confidence often placed in IPCC carbon models, but even I find an order of magnitude difference very hard to swallow. Primary kinetic isotopes effects (except for hydrogen/deuterium) are usually very small, if measurable. Of the order of 1.02 to 1.10 not 10.00 (which is one reason why radio-isotopes are so useful in tracer studies.)

Jul 31, 2013 at 12:47 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

I don't understand very well the "philosophy" behind the public paying tax for govefunded research, and then subsequently been barred from the results of that research.

Surely, when we paid for it, it should be accessible.

As for "partly privately sponsored", the fact that the privately sponsored ones got their desired research already funded by us should be compensation enough, if government thinks it should sponsor research the caveat should be FREE, ACCESSIBLE publications afterwards.

Jul 31, 2013 at 1:05 PM | Unregistered Commenterptw

I appreciate this is just rough working out but if 6% is Human Co2, of 400ppm we are responsible for 24ppm (I though it was more like 15ppm). Therefore to get a doubling of Co2 to put the A in AGW we would have to increase or Co2 emissions equivalent to 15.6 times our current output to add a further 376ppm of Co2 to the atmosphere? Is that even possible? Is there that much Co2 to release locked up in fossil fuels to generate a contribution equal to natural sources in order to get a human doubling of Co2 concentrations?
NOAA report a 0.74ºC increase over the last century and Co2 started in 1900 at 295ppm today it is 400ppm representing an increase an increase of 105ppm equating to a 0.007ºC rise for each ppm increase. So human contribution to the temperature rise based on a 6% figure is 0.16ºC for all of humanities Co2. If the whole world reduced its Co2 output by 20% we would be able to prevent what, 0.03ºC?

Jul 31, 2013 at 1:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterJaceF

The reason for the difference between ¹²CO₂ and ¹⁴CO₂ is related to the speciation of carbon in the ocean. The proportions of CO₂, HCO₃, and CO₃ in the surface ocean are roughly 10:1800:200. While isotopic equilibration requires that the ¹⁴C in all three species be exchanged, chemical equilibration is accomplished by the reaction

CO₂ + CO₃ + H₂O → 2HCO₃

Hence the time required for chemical equilibration differs from the time required for isotopic equilibration by a factor of roughly 200/1800.

Jul 31, 2013 at 1:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterDouglas J. Keenan

I don't understand very well the "philosophy" behind the public paying tax for gove funded research, and then subsequently been barred from the results of that research.

Surely, when we paid for it, it should be accessible...
Jul 31, 2013 at 1:05 PM | ptw

Ah, but you are forgetting the modus operandi of climate scientists like Prof Phil Jones:

"“Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?” (in an email to Warwick Hughes).

Jul 31, 2013 at 1:32 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

JaceF
Hey - have you put your finger on it, or what..?
If 'we' are only responsible for 6% of CO2 emissions - how the hell can it 'double' by 2050 (or 2100 - or whenever)...?
Sounds like a question for Lord Donoughue to put to the tedious Baroness...

Jul 31, 2013 at 1:41 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

sherlock, compound interest at 6% would double your money in 12 years, so I guess CO2 could do the same.

Jul 31, 2013 at 2:23 PM | Unregistered Commentersteveta_uk

A very good question to ask of your parliament is.

What is the cost per degree avoided for mitigation of each degree in 2100 from a business as usual baseline?

The best estimate would be of the order of 1/2 a Quadrillion pounds which kinda puts this in perspective.

Jul 31, 2013 at 2:26 PM | Unregistered Commenterbobl

JaceF & sherlock1,

The mainstream view is that anthropogenic emission is responsible for close to 100% of the change in atmospheric CO2 concentration since mid-19th century, with just a small part being due to the increase in temperature (which causes a release of oceanic CO2) and changes to the biosphere. The 6% number that is quoted here refers to the mass of anthropogenic emission in a year relative to the total mass of CO2 exchanged in the atmosphere in a year. This is not the same thing at all!

Jul 31, 2013 at 2:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul_K

The answer to D contains the phrase "the fluxes between natural CO2 sources and sinks are essentially in balance within the carbon cycle". I find this interesting because it reflects the mistaken view which is so pervasive within climate science that there is an equilibrium state of climate variables which is being disturbed by man. In fact, climate is dynamic with no equilibrium state on any time scale, as Roy Clark argues very well in his book "The Dynamic Greenhouse Effect and the Climate Averaging Paradox".

In the case of the carbon cycle, the fact that atmospheric CO2 concentrations have risen at about half the rate of human CO2 emissions shows that the carbon cycle is responding dynamically to increased atmospheric CO2 concentration, perhaps by increased aggregate net CO2 absorption by plants. Therefore, surely, it cannot be the case that "the fluxes between natural CO2 sources and sinks are essentially in balance within the carbon cycle" because if it were, atmospheric CO2 would have risen at the same rate as human emissions?

Jul 31, 2013 at 3:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterGuy Leech

We should spell Lord Donoughue's name correctly in the title of the post perhaps?
[Corrected, thanks. Today's Moderator]

Jul 31, 2013 at 3:39 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

@Michael hart -

There is a big difference between the lifetime of individual CO2 molecules in the atmosphere and the lifetime of CO2 levels - what Freeman Dyson has called the difference between "residence time with replacement" and "residence time without replacement".

Since there is always a great deal of "churn" of CO2 molecules, the first will be significantly shorter than the second. When you look at the lifetime of 14C-based molecules, you are looking at the first. When you look at the decay of the level of a hypothetical pulse, you are looking at the second.

Still, I think the numbers quoted may well have been botched. Typically decay times are given with the times it takes to decay by about 62% (1-1/e) of the initial level, not to 62%. This time is what engineers call the "time constant" and physicists call the "e-folding time". Also, the two times do match for any kind of basic model of the atmosphere.

Jul 31, 2013 at 3:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterCurt

Answer to B: "An indication of residence time can be seen from experiments using the Met Office Hadley Centre's Earth system model"

Nah.....that's not an experiment; that's a lottery. Sheesh!

Jul 31, 2013 at 4:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterSnotrocket

Well there is a first: a lack of volcano eruptions factually causes warming!

There I thought that volcanoes were considered to be a negative forcing realing to cooling, but it appears that volcanoes can be classed as a positive forcing causing warming when they do not erupt!

Look at the extraordinary explanation given to the reasons behind the 1911 to 1940s warming:

"These studies find evidence that a number of factors combined to cause the observed warming during the 1911-1940 period, including increases in greenhouse concentrations, A PAUCITY OF MAJOR VOLCANIC ERUPTIONS, increasing solar output and natural variability within the climate system, such as changes in ocean circulation" (my emphasis).

How scientific is that?

Jul 31, 2013 at 4:49 PM | Unregistered Commenterrichard verney

The inclusion of the word 'formally' in the answer to question F indicates to me that its entirely likely that discussions have indeed taken place within the Met Office on that very issue, but that they don't want to nail their colours to the mast, for fear of it being used against them!

Jul 31, 2013 at 5:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterJim

Perhaps the Baroness might enquire of the Met Office's comment's on this recent peer reviewed study, showing how models run on different computers can give different results. See: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/07/27/another-uncertainty-for-climate-models-different-results-on-different-computers-using-the-same-code/

Jul 31, 2013 at 5:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

Sorry to hog the comments board.I was through the Essex countryside today I past an array of 5 onshore windturbinesoutside Clackton .Four were moving but one of them had been locked down out of use.Closer look revelled one of its blades bent out of shape.

So my question is what is the total percentage of UK blade failiure , Supplementaries ,are turbine blades and their fitting bolts subject to ultra sound testing , were UK turbines subjected to riggerous wind tunnel testing, finally what is the safe and optimum height and size for future UK turbines.

(Hopefully they will all eventually get cut down for scrap metal)

Jul 31, 2013 at 5:34 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

"B) Lord Donoughue to ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the mean residential time of anthropogenically emitted carbon dioxide in the simulated atmospheres of the general circulation models that are run by the Met Office.[HL1484"

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they stand by the answer to this question, given by Baroness Verma or would they prefer to reconsider and revise the answer.

Jul 31, 2013 at 6:05 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

Parting? Is he going somewhere?

Jul 31, 2013 at 7:13 PM | Registered Commenterjferguson

Jul 31, 2013 at 3:17 PM | Guy Leech

In the case of the carbon cycle, the fact that atmospheric CO2 concentrations have risen at about half the rate of human CO2 emissions shows that the carbon cycle is responding dynamically to increased atmospheric CO2 concentration, perhaps by increased aggregate net CO2 absorption by plants.

This reminds me of Le Chatelier's Principle which I learnt many years ago when I was studying chemistry.

If a dynamic equilibrium is disturbed by changing the conditions, the position of equilibrium moves to counteract the change.

In other words, when we increase CO2 emissions the environment should change to counteract the effects of the increase in CO2 concentrations. Presumably some climate scientists have studied chemistry. Have they taken Le Chatelier's Principle into account in their models?

Jul 31, 2013 at 7:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

The reason for the difference between ¹²CO₂ and ¹⁴CO₂ is related to the speciation of carbon in the ocean. The proportions of CO₂, HCO₃, and CO₃ in the surface ocean are roughly 10:1800:200. While isotopic equilibration requires that the ¹⁴C in all three species be exchanged, chemical equilibration is accomplished by the reaction

CO₂ + CO₃ + H₂O → 2HCO₃

Hence the time required for chemical equilibration differs from the time required for isotopic equilibration by a factor of roughly 200/1800.

Jul 31, 2013 at 1:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterDouglas J. Keenan
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Those reactions take place in the liquid phase, that is, once the CO2 has already left the atmosphere.

"Hence the time required for chemical equilibration differs from the time required for isotopic equilibration by a factor of roughly 200/1800."

Have those experiments in the open ocean been done in the presence of a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor?

Jul 31, 2013 at 7:48 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Basically a "nice person"

You mean like "Tim, nice but dim"?

Jul 31, 2013 at 9:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Jul 31, 2013 at 10:54 AM | Douglas J. Keenan

Baroness Verma is a government minister, albeit not in the cabinet:
https://www.gov.uk/government/ministers
She is the person responsible for the Answers, because it is her name that is recorded in Hansard. Nonetheless, she is dependent upon her officials (e.g. Met Office employees) to write the Answers.

Or, as Lord Donoughue expressed it so candidly in the discussion thread, the problem lies with the higher ups and "the fanatics in the Met Office".

One would be very naive to believe that Baroness Verna had any part in the formulation of the answers she's been saddled with providing. Although it would have been preferable if she had some understanding of the questions so that she could then determine that the replies are utterly non-responsive - and perhaps summon the gumption to send 'em back up the line for a do-over! Much as one would demand that a waiter return one's over-cooked steak to the chef!

This pattern of non-responsiveness is an attribute that, unfortunately, is all too common in replies we have seen (even here!) from the representatives of this "jewel in the crown, of British science and global science".

I vaguely remember the good old days when one could (more or less) depend on the principle of Ministerial responsibility. In those days, if a substantial screw-up became apparent - regardless of the level at which it might have occurred (and as often as not it was within the bureaucracy) - it was the minister who took the honourable path and resigned.

These days, though (particularly with such a lazy and/or agenda-driven press corps) the name of the game seems to be a deliberate diffusion of responsibility while papering over the inadequacies and mediocrities that pass for honest answers to any and all questions (particularly those of the inconvenient kind!)

Not that this concept of responsibility at the top is unique to parliamentary procedure. It happens within many - if not most - organizations. As I had noted in one of the earliest posts on my blog, I was once CEO of a medium-sized non-profit.

It was my job to draft organization policies and other material that I would distribute – well in advance of the board meeting – for discussion and approval. Over the years I observed that the greater the risk (and/or potential cost) the less the discussion, usually because the people hadn't actually read the full paper, but that's another matter!

Ultimately the Board "owned" and were jointly responsible for whatever decisions they made. So, yes, there was an executive summary, but it was drawn from the “meat” so to speak. And I always made sure that the "meat" was kosher.

But there seems to be so much "unkosher" meat underlying the policies, rules and regulations derived from "climate science".

And no one seems to take responsibility.

Jul 31, 2013 at 9:33 PM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

What a hoot!

The Baroness responds to B:

"Carbon dioxide does not have a mean residence time in the atmosphere as there are a range of processes that exchange carbon dioxide between the atmosphere and other carbon reservoirs, operating on a wide range of time-scales."

Are there any empirical studies which give us reliable information about these several processes and reservoirs? If not, is modeling all we have on this matter? Are you aware that this statement in your answer is revelatory? This is the first we have heard of these "processes" and we are vastly disappointed because the climate science community has always told us that CO2 is distributed equally well throughout the atmosphere. Are none of these "processes" in the atmosphere, at least in part?

The Baroness on D:

"However, although natural CO2 emissions are much larger than those from anthropogenic sources, the fluxes between natural CO2 sources and sinks are essentially in balance within the carbon cycle and the impact of anthropogenic emissions is such that they have been responsible for the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration since pre-industrial times."

Can this "balance" be detected in empirical studies on the sources and sinks? If not, is modeling all we have? What methods, especially methods of empirical measurement at the sources and sinks, have been used to distinguish natural CO2 from manmade CO2? Have you assumed that natural CO2 is in balance rather than empirically measuring that balance at the sources and sinks?

God Bless Lord Donoughue!

Jul 31, 2013 at 9:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheo Goodwin

These questions identify locations where research is sorely needed. (i.e; better answers.)

Jul 31, 2013 at 10:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterGreg Cavanagh

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