Climate Change skeptics? [ot]


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Trad climber
Lee, NH
May 16, 2013 - 10:11am PT
Spitzer, there was an article addressing your question a few years ago in Nature Geoscience. Here's a summary and discussion by NASA climatologist Gavin Schmidt. If human CO2 emissions went suddenly to zero,

CO2 concentrations would start to fall immediately since the ocean and terrestrial biosphere would continue to absorb more carbon than they release as long as the CO2 level in the atmosphere is higher than pre-industrial levels (approximately). And subsequent temperatures (depending slightly on the model you are using) would either be flat or slightly decreasing. With this definition then, there is no climate change commitment because of climate inertia. Instead, the reason for the likely continuation of the warming is that we can’t get to zero emissions any time soon because of societal, economic or technological inertia.

That is an interesting reframing of an issue that comes up all the time in discussions of adaptation and mitigation. This is because it demonstrates that adaptation (over and above what is necessary to reduce vulnerabilities to current climate conditions) is unnecessary if mitigation is dramatic enough.

However, the practical implication of this reframing is small. We are clearly not going to get to zero emissions any time soon, and even the 60-70% cuts required to stabilise concentrations initially seem a long way off. Thus as a practical matter, it doesn’t really matter whether the inertia is climatic or societal or technological or economic because the globe will continue to warm under all realistic scenarios (what we do have a possible control over is the magnitude of that warming). Thus further adaptation measures will still be needed.

May 16, 2013 - 10:28am PT
Chiloe, thanks for that. I'm not surprised that this was already understood and also not surprised that you and Ed knew this. I posted the question and link because I didn't know this despite reading more than the average layman about climate change. So as the authors of that perspective suggest, there are probably a lot of people with this mistaken belief.

There may be no practical difference but there is a psychological one.

May 16, 2013 - 02:51pm PT
well it's raining and cool in woodfords right now so I guess it's no problem.
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
May 16, 2013 - 06:37pm PT
I think this was already posted but it's worth repeating in light of the latest unsubstantiated total nonsense that Rick see's fit to post but also as it offers a pretty good snap shot of the abject ignorance that prevails in america regarding climate science and the fact that it quite nicely touches on many of the choicest Rick sumner assertions.

So without further ado, for your hilarity and side splitting ridicule, much deserved as it is although hardly to be celebrated, here you go:

Public opinion on the topic of climate change is notoriously fickle, changing -- quite literally sometimes -- with the weather. The latest bit of evidence on this: Yale's April 2013 climate change survey, which found, among other things, that Americans' conviction that global warming is happening had dropped by seven points, to 63 percent, over the preceding six months. The decline, the authors surmised, was most likely due to "the cold winter of 2012-13 and an unusually cold March just before the survey was conducted."

A far smaller percentage -- 49 percent -- understood that human activities are contributing to the problem.

People and surveys being what they are, these numbers tend to jump around a bit from year to year. At the same time, 49 percent is nearly half the country, so it wouldn't be excessively cheerful (would it?) to note that half of the American public is more or less in harmony with basic science -- at least as it relates to climate change and the role carbon dioxide emissions play in exacerbating things. Given that roughly the same number of Americans flatly reject evolution, the climate numbers represent a comparative bounty of enlightenment.

That's not something you hear very often when it comes to surveys of Americans. Delving deeper into the textbooks, for instance, another recent study showed that less than half of population was clear on whether atoms are smaller than electrons, or whether lasers work by focusing sound waves. In this light (ahem), the larger consensus on global warming is notable. (Answers on atoms and lasers appear at the end of this column.)

It's elementary: climate change is real.
But a far more troubling metric from Yale's latest poll suggests that only 42 percent of Americans believe that scientists are in agreement on climate change. A full 33 percent of respondents are convinced that there remains "widespread disagreement" among scientists on the issue. This is a problem -- both because it is so at odds with reality, and because it likely helps prevent more Americans from recognizing and accepting some pretty straightforward scientific realities.

It is this reason that prompted a team of researchers to painstakingly comb through the abstracts of more than 12,000 scientific articles published between 1991 and 2011 to determine just how much scientific agreement exists on the subject of climate change, and humanity's role in driving it. The team was led by John Cook, a Climate Communication Fellow for the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland and the founder of the climate change education web site

The results, published Thursday in the journal Environmental Research Letters, were clear: of the more than 4,000 abstracts that had anything to say about human-driven climate change, 97 percent endorsed the notion. A little less than 3 percent either rejected the idea or remained undecided.

"There is a gaping chasm between the actual consensus and the public perception," Cook said in a statement accompanying the study's release. "It's staggering given the evidence for consensus that less than half of the general public think scientists agree that humans are causing global warming. This is significant because when people understand that scientists agree on global warming, they're more likely to support policies that take action on it."

In a follow-up email exchange, Cook said that the evidence for consensus on the topic among individual scientists was even stronger, given that more researchers were listed as co-authors on papers endorsing the idea of human-driven climate change -- technically called "anthropogenic global warming," or AGW for short -- than on papers that rejected it.

"Consequently," Cook said, "among the 10,000 scientists who had expressed a position on AGW in the peer-reviewed literature, 98.4 percent endorsed the consensus."

The study, which is also outlined in detail (and with colorful slides) at The Consensus Project, is the latest in a long line of meta-analyses seeking to debunk the relentless and apparently potent talking points of naysayers who argue that scientists continue to disagree on the matter. Last year, the free-market and right-leaning Heartland Institute financed a series of billboards in Chicago comparing those who understand and accept the basic science on global warming to unsavory characters like convicted murderer Charles Manson, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski.

"The point is that believing in global warming is not 'mainstream,' smart, or sophisticated," the organization wrote at the time. "In fact, it is just the opposite of those things."

Studies like Cook's, which revisits a well known and similarly conducted 2004 review of the scientific literature by Naomi Oreskes at the University of California, San Diego, provide clear evidence that messages like Heartland's -- besides being rather boorish and odd -- are bunkum. Scientists are no more divided on the basic mechanics of the greenhouse effect than they are on questions of evolution (sorry folks) or other elementary concepts.

Sure, there's ample room for debate on the particulars: How hot will the planet get? How quickly? How will our various ecosystems, from forests and oceans to vast tracts of tundra and polar ice, respond to rising temperatures, and how will these responses feed, in turn, into the incredibly dynamic and interactive machinery of our climate? And then based on all this, what the hell should we do about it? These are all questions without precise answers, and they are providing rich and important territory for scientific investigation as well as social, political and economic soul searching.

What's not a matter of debate, however, is that human beings are pumping lots of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at an unprecedented rate -- mostly from the burning of fossil fuels. That's trapping heat and driving up average surface temperatures across the planet, which in turn is spurring regional changes that we are only now beginning to understand. On these points, virtually all climate scientists agree.

A famous 2009 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences came at the question of scientific consensus from an entirely different angle, but arrived at nearly identical results. That study reviewed public statements made by scientists of any kind about anthropogenic global warming, and then identified which of those scientists had published peer-reviewed climate research -- this as a way of weeding out those who publicly reject human-driven global warming but have no formal expertise or training in climate science, like these folks.

Among the nearly 1,000 most actively published climate scientists, that analysis found that between 97 and 98 percent supported the basic tenets of human-driven climate change -- a very similar result to the one published Thursday by Cook and his colleagues.

"We want our scientists to answer questions for us, and there are lots of exciting questions in climate science," said one of Cook's co-authors, Mark Richardson of Britain's University of Reading, in a statement accompanying the release of the study. "We found over 4,000 studies written by 10,000 scientists that discussed whether recent warming is mostly man-made," Richardson said, "and 97 percent answered 'yes.'

We can't possibly expect to agree on everything. Should there be subsidies for cleaner forms of energy, or a stiff tax on carbon pollution, or both? Or do we simply wait it out in the hopes that necessity -- in the form of rising seas, more destructive storms, choking droughts and other climate-related freakishness -- will drive invention and save the day? For my money, an ounce of early prevention would seem worth a ton of cure further down the line, but I understand the differing opinions.

What's far more clear -- and indeed, what is a virtual certainty among scientists -- is that we've got a problem on our hands, and we're going to have to deal with it sooner or later.

So if you count yourself among the 49 percent of Americans who believe that climate change is happening, and that we're playing a key role in it, give yourself a gold star. The planet's best and brightest scientific minds agree with you.

And if you weren't sure whether electrons were smaller than atoms (they are), or that lasers work by focusing light, not sound, well, take heart: Scientists have got your back. See the science and technology survey published last month by the Pew Research Center and Smithsonian magazine for more.
Dr. F.

Big Wall climber
May 16, 2013 - 07:35pm PT
It cooled off this evening, so I guess there is No GCC
If it's not over 100 degrees 24/7; so then we can assume it's hasn't warmed due to GCC

Is that your premise?

Grey Matter
May 16, 2013 - 07:58pm PT
Dr F, that is only part of the denialist cookbook.

1. Any day of less than average temperature disproves science.
2. Any science that conflicts with capitalist manifest destiny type dogma must be false, because a belief system is more important than science.
3. The more the public and politicians can be confused and bought off, the more we can delay any useful policy.

Sport climber
May 16, 2013 - 08:32pm PT
The Global Warming Cookbook Edition 3,846,478

Tasty recipes for the end of the world feast!
Reading sheep entrails and thermometers like a pro!
Predict when the sky will fall on your city!
Do's and Don'ts of running around like a maniac trying to scare neighbors.

McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
May 16, 2013 - 10:27pm PT
just to change the direction a little, I'm posting this comment I found in a random blog;

In a Solar system with a star at the centre, it makes the most sense to look to the huge burning furnace to explain planetary temperatures, not CO2 production (especially when the global CO2 production follows the global temperature rather than precedes it).

This is pretty silly since we know exactly where the CO2 is coming from - it's human emissions. CO2 is not increasing because the sun is getting hotter. Unless all of the emissions are coming from air-conditioner use, the comment is wrong and silly.


Gym climber
Topic Author's Reply - May 17, 2013 - 07:46am PT
The most ambitious survey on the causes of climate change - covering 11,994 peer-reviewed papers by 29,000 scientists over 20 years - has found that 97.1% agree climate change is caused by human activity, with dissenters representing a "vanishingly small proportion." Yet industry lobbying has created a "gaping chasm" between scientific consensus and public perception, with just 42% of Americans seeing the connection.

"The public have been confused because people have been trying to confuse us."
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Soon to be Nipple suckling Liberal
May 17, 2013 - 07:50am PT
Anyone explain why the ave temps have not risen in over a decade?

Trad climber
Lee, NH
May 17, 2013 - 08:10am PT
Sure, Ron, a lot of people are looking at that. They start from the observation that only surface air temperatures seem level, while the ocean keeps on warming (and sea level keeps rising, and glaciers keep melting). Here's the most recent article I've read (emphasis added). Their mechanism involves the observed intensification of trade winds, affecting currents and vertical mixing at sea.

Distinctive climate signals in reanalysis of global ocean heat content
Balmaseda et al. (2013) Geophysical Research Letters

The elusive nature of the post-2004 upper ocean warming has exposed uncertainties in the ocean's role in the Earth's energy budget and transient climate sensitivity. Here we present the time evolution of the global ocean heat content for 1958 through 2009 from a new observation-based reanalysis of the ocean. Volcanic eruptions and El Niño events are identified as sharp cooling events punctuating a long-term ocean warming trend, while heating continues during the recent upper-ocean-warming hiatus, but the heat is absorbed in the deeper ocean. In the last decade, about 30% of the warming has occurred below 700 m, contributing significantly to an acceleration of the warming trend. The warming below 700 m remains even when the Argo observing system is withdrawn although the trends are reduced. Sensitivity experiments illustrate that surface wind variability is largely responsible for the changing ocean heat vertical distribution.

Gym climber
May 17, 2013 - 08:22am PT
The most ambitious survey on the causes of climate change - covering 11,994 peer-reviewed papers by 29,000 scientists over 20 years - has found that 97.1% agree climate change is caused by human activity, with dissenters representing a "vanishingly small proportion." Yet industry lobbying has created a "gaping chasm" between scientific consensus and public perception, with just 42% of Americans seeing the connection.

"The public have been confused because people have been trying to confuse us."

This shows the typically muddled thinking of the alarmists.
Bruce's story shows that something like 1/2 of Americans don't know if an electron is bigger than an atom, or if lasers work by focusing sound, or if evolution explains current life forms.
Presumably, there's no industry lobbying trying to confuse the poor public about atomic physics or lasers (perhaps you believe "the Church" is brainwashing people on evolution, but what percentage of Americans belong to a church that teaches against evolution?)

The only "industry lobbying" re: climate change I see is things like Exxon's statements that acknowledge climate change and the role played by humans in emitting greenhouse gasses (direct human emission isn't that relevant, except from Chole's mouth). (That's not to say there isn't other industry lobbying; I'd expect most of it to be directed at politicians rather than the public--that's kind of what lobbying is.)

The more likely explanation (consistent with public's understanding of atoms and lasers) is that most people have extremely limited interest in things that that don't directly affect them or where their opinion doesn't really change anything, even if it does affect them.
And notwithstanding MountaionLions's belief that he himself has seen vast climate change in his 40-year life, it strains credulity to believe that many people can have personally noticed climate change, in light of the relatively small (and irregular) change so far compared to normal weather change.

Mountain climber
State of Reality
May 17, 2013 - 08:26am PT
The above (Chiloe's Post) is not true and not according to the latest HATSST smoothed data.


Trad climber
Lee, NH
May 17, 2013 - 08:31am PT
The above (Chiloe's Post) is not true and not according to the latest HATSST smoothed data.

That's a bunch of graphs, but try reading the abstract. Can you figure out what you're missing? Hint: I put it in bold.

Social climber
the Wastelands
May 17, 2013 - 08:32am PT
when are you going to refute the science of climate change, Rick?

what are you waiting for, the time is now

May 17, 2013 - 08:36am PT
So they just said:

"Survey finds 97% of climate science papers agree warming is man-made

Overwhelming majority of peer-reviewed papers taking a position on global warming say humans are causing it"

That's what I always saw too.

Or maybe I'm just a stupid American .......

Mountain climber
State of Reality
May 17, 2013 - 08:37am PT
Also this particular recently published peer reviewed study that throws a big time curve ball into Mann's Hockey Stick theory.

The international research team -- composed of scientists from Argentina, Chile, Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States -- write that their summer temperature reconstruction suggests that "a warm period extended in SSA from 900 (or even earlier) to the mid-fourteenth century," which they describe as being temporally located "towards the end of the Medieval Climate Anomaly as concluded from Northern Hemisphere temperature reconstructions." And as can be seen from the figure below, the warmest decade of this Medieval Warm Period was calculated by them to be AD 1079-1088, which as best as can be determined from their graph is about 0.17°C warmer than the peak warmth of the Current Warm Period.

Neukom, R., Luterbacher, J., Villalba, R., Kuttel, M., Frank, D., Jones, P.D., Grosjean, M., Wanner, H., Aravena, J.-C., Black, D.E., Christie, D.A., D'Arrigo, R., Lara, A., Morales, M., Soliz-Gamboa, C., Srur, A., Urritia, R. and von Gunten, L. 2011. Multiproxy summer and winter surface air temperature field reconstructions for southern South America covering the past centuries. Climate Dynamics 37: 35-51.


Trad climber
May 17, 2013 - 08:46am PT
Blah Blah I have seen many dramatic changes in terms of the weather in my short life for example:

Record rainfall and flooding in the last ten years in the upper midwest

Record drought, fires, and floods in the U.S., Asia, Australia

Record tornado numbers in the midwest and tornadoes in areas that had previously never had a tornado

Record snowfalls in several areas in the U.S.

Record breaking Hurricane hitting the northern U.S. (New York)

Record breaking heat waves in Europe, Australia, and the U.S.

All of these events are off the top of my head and have occured in the last ten years--I would have to search the internet for the up if you think that is worth my time...

Trad climber
Lee, NH
May 17, 2013 - 08:50am PT
And notwithstanding MountaionLions's belief that he himself has seen vast climate change in his 40-year life, it strains credulity to believe that many people can have personally noticed climate change, in light of the relatively small (and irregular) change so far compared to normal weather change.

You really can't think this through? I personally noticed climate change before I knew what it was. From skiers to gardeners to bird watchers, many people have noticed changes in similar directions, and if they talk to others or look up numbers they learn such changes are widespread. From Alaska Natives there are many narratives about it, as thousands of years of permafrost thaw or sea ice doesn't form like it used to, so shorelines with towns on them erode. From Mt. Kenya to Yerupajá to Cervino, mountain climbers could tell stories! You blandly imagine people living in the average, but of course they don't.
the Fet

May 17, 2013 - 08:54am PT
Scientists just want you to think the Earth is round so they can get money to sail around it.
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