Monday, June 03, 2013

A Paradox of History?

"These campaigns are bewildering until we remember that resisting environmental regulations, including energy efficiency measures, has become a sign of red-blooded faith in the prevailing system, the particular conservative construction of the American way of life. The ideological framing of environmentally benign technology has a long history in the United States. When Sherwood Rowland, the American chemist who would share the 1995 Nobel Prize with Paul Crutzen, advocated a ban on ozone-destroying consumer products, the aerosol spray-can industry suggested he was a KGB agent bent on destroying capitalism.  While renewable energy industries in the United States face constant political attacks, in China investment in green technologies is surging. It would be a paradox of history if it turned out that democracy in America had become so dysfunctional that it could be held hostage by an anti-environmental minority while a totalitarian government in China took decisive action on the threat of global warming, and in the process assumed the mantle of world leadership in which an emergent ‘Chinese way of life’ proved superior to its American counterpart.

Even so, it seems clear that the United States is at a stage in its history where it is having difficulty making good decisions in its own long-term interests, let alone those of the the rest of the world. The era in which judgements must be made about geoengineering has begun; within two or three decades a momentous choice will need to be made about deployment of Earth-changing technologies. Although the United States is not short of intelligent, thoughtful and deeply concerned people, from today’s vantage point it is hard to see it regaining enough political composure to be able to reflect carefully on the implications of doing so."

-- Clive Hamilton, Earthmasters: The Dawn of the Age of Climate Engineering

58 comments:

Anonymous said...

David, the Chinese are exploiting a great business opportunity by providing supply to meet a surging international demand. When the bubble bursts, they will sustain injury.

Anonymous said...

"a totalitarian government in China took decisive action on the threat of global warming". Check this out, "China is expected to add about 160 new coal-fired plants to the 620 operating now, within four years". Now thats decisive action! But wait, Climate Scientists(tm) now say that Chinese coal plants are whats keeping the temps from rising. LOL You guys are getting sillier by the day.

David Appell said...

1) China's per capita emissions are about 40% of the US's.

2)
"Volcanic aerosols, not pollutants, tamped down recent Earth warming, says CU study," March 1, 2013
http://www.colorado.edu/news/releases/2013/03/01/volcanic-aerosols-not-pollutants-tamped-down-recent-earth-warming-says-cu

"W[h]ither Global Warming? Has It Slowed Down?" The Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media, May 7, 2013.
http://www.yaleclimatemediaforum.org/2013/05/wither-global-warming-has-it-slowed-down/


David Appell said...

>> When the bubble bursts, they will sustain injury. <<

There is no bubble, and if there were, why would it burst? Demand for green technologies is only going to rise, in response to climate change.

Anonymous said...

Robert Kaufmann and Michael Mann - paper in PNAS - “rapid growth in short-lived sulphur emissions partially offsets rising greenhouse gas concentrations” (from growth in Chinese coal use)

Anonymous said...

"China's per capita emissions are about 40% of the US's." per capita does not matter. Its the total amount that counts.

David Appell said...

Of course it's per capita emissions that matter, not where humans decide to put lines on a map.

Every human being has just as much right to the atmosphere as you or I do.

It's Americans who are the biggest fossil fuel polluters, not the Chinese. America has put 28% of the extra carbon into today's atmosphere and oceans; China about 10%. And about 16% of China's emissions go for products consumed in America, with 9% to Europe.

David Appell said...

>> Robert Kaufmann and Michael Mann <<

So? One paper rarely proves anything, and subsequent work has come to a different conclusion.

David Appell said...

In any case, no one doubts that coal's CO2 has a (long-term) warming effect and its aerosols a (short-term) cooling effect, both of which take place at the same time.

Anonymous said...

'There is no bubble, and if there were, why would it burst? Demand for green technologies is only going to rise, in response to climate change.'

Love to chat further but off to the slopes with me! Washington state? New England? The French Alps? Gotta check out Expedia's deals.....

Richard Lawson said...

Going back to the main point of the article, there is a case to be made that denial of the enhanced greenhouse effect from the likes of this anonymous here is a kind of social psychosis, in the sense of a detachment of cognition from reality. It begins with their individualist ideology, since h. Sapient is a social animal, like the wolf, not a solitary animal like the bear. It continues with their absolutisation of the market, instead of seeing it as one component of human ecology and economy. It ends with their absolutisation of money, instead of realising that it is a social construct convenient for conducting business in large complex economies, a construct that must reflect values found in Nature and Humanity, rather than the reverse.

Out of these three misconceptions, the reactionaries are constructing a system of concepts which has a distinctly paranoid flavour (see Christopher Monckton). If Western thought does not wake up and realise that it is teetering on the edge of a social psychosis, we may find ourselves going the way of the Roman Empire.

Richard Lawson said...

H. sapiens, sorry.

Anonymous said...

Dear, dear Richard, it's quite clear you're absolutely itching to sweep us inconvenient sleuths into the loony bin at the first chance. Before that happens, will you kindly answer the unavoidable question (since no one denies that the intrinsic warming of a doubling of C02 to be about 1.2C) -- how sensitive is the climate to increasing levels of C02?

This may be of help:

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/06/03/climate-sensitivity-deconstructed/

Dano said...

You know when they trot out Watts as a source their credibility is done and they can be ignored.

Denialist spam aside, good post and nice discussion.

Best,

D

Anonymous said...

Nice dodge, Dano.

Anonymous said...

Why won't Dano and Richard answer what should be a very simple question?

In the meantime, this profile of the demise of their infowar is spot on:

http://thepointman.wordpress.com/2013/06/07/how-to-run-a-really-bad-infowar-campaign/

David Appell said...

>> http://thepointman.wordpress.com/2013/06/07/how-to-run-a-really-bad-infowar-campaign/ <<

Do you really expect anyone to read this screed?

Anonymous said...

How sensitive is the climate to increasing levels of C02?

The temperature record of the last 15 years indicates not so much.

David Appell said...

The temperature record of the last 15 years indicates not so much.

False. You are making the mistake of looking at a tiny sliver of the climate picture, the surface, which is subject to great variability.

The surface is probably the absolute worst place to look for the energy imbalance caused by a buildup of greenhouse gases.

Anonymous said...

HAH!

CAGW was sold to the world largely through surface data.

I can smell the desperation....

David Appell said...

No, it wasn't -- the warnings were/are that the Earth's greenhouse effect is being enhanced, i.e. is it receiving more energy than it is emitting, and that this leads to surface warming, sea level rise, and ice melting. And it is. It's just that lately natural cycles (especially ENSOs and the PDO) are working to mask surface warming, whereas in the last decades of the 20th century it was acting in concert with surface warming, enhancing it. Aerosols too, probably.

Has there been a recent renewed recognition of the role of natural variability? Yes. It was easier to overlook in the 80s/90s when it added to warming. This is how science advances.

This really isn't a difficult concept, and I don't know why deniers are pretending they don't understand it.

(Well, actually I do understand, but you know what I mean.)

The surface will warm further -- it has to. Then people like you will be pointing out the effect of natural cycles. That will be fun.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for acknowledging that climate is far less sensitive to increasing CO2 than supposed, and that natural variability dominates.

"This really isn't a difficult concept, and I don't know why deniers are pretending they don't understand it."

"Deniers" have long propounded the dominant role of natural variability -- as you know despite the previous incredibly disingenuous statement.

Look at a comparison graph over the 20th c of PDO phase shifts, temperatures and CO2 levels, and it becomes very clear what is much more likely driving temperature change and what is not.

Y'all have moved the goal posts so far so many times, isn't it time to just toss 'em over the cliff?

David Appell said...

I didn't acknowledge any such thing, so keep your thank you.

David Appell said...

Look at a comparison graph over the 20th c of PDO phase shifts, temperatures and CO2 levels, and it becomes very clear what is much more likely driving temperature change and what is not.

Yes, it does -- in no way could the PDO or any internal natural cycle be responsible for the 0.8 C rise in global temperature last decade, and no denier in the year 1900 (or 1970) would have ever predicted it.

Anonymous said...

That dratted natural variability, nefariously "masking" the true warming! Bad variability, bad, bad, bad.....

Another future problem is the logarithmically-reduced warming of increasing CO2 levels.

Not to mention one of the keys to CAGW theory, the mid-troposheric 'hot spot' -- where oh where can it be? Instead of increasing moisture in the mid-troposphere, as the theory goes, it is in fact drier.

But of course, the 'hot spot' must be deep in the ocean with the rest of the warming -- where 'unfortunately' it can't be measured......

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you meant .8C since...........1880?

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201213/ldhansrd/text/121108w0001.htm#12110877000303

(scroll down to Climate Change Questions)

Anonymous said...

The surface is probably the absolute worst place to look for the energy imbalance caused by a build[-]up of greenhouse gases.” Yet it is the surface temperatures – “… a tiny sliver of the climate picture… – that the infamous hockey-stick is based upon, a hockey-stick you do insist is not broken.

You then go on to assert that natural cycles can have an effect upon the inexorable rise, yet refuse to consider that it might – just might – be possible that natural cycles might be what this whole farrago is all about – let’s face it, there have been rises and falls in the cycle since time immemorial; why should this one be any different?

It is curious to note that you will cheerfully accept sites that support your ideation, yet discount any who offer alternative ideation as “screed”.

I am sorry, but I prefer to look at both sides of an argument, combine them with my own analysis of the information and with my own observations. I travel a lot, and those warmer climes I visit on not noticeably warmer; however, the cooler climes are noticeably cooler. Please do not try to fob us all off with the “warming causes cooling” clap-trap.

Radical Rodent

Anonymous said...

… in no way could the PDO or any internal natural cycle be responsible for the 0.8 C rise in global temperature last decade, and no denier in the year 1900 (or 1970) would have ever predicted it.

But the last decade has seen NO rise in temperature; the 0.8°C rise has been since 1880 (though how accurate the measuring devices were then is a moot point – even today, an instrument error of ±0.4°C is acceptable) – not a significant or frightening rise.

I do notice you resort to the invective “denier” to label anyone with whom you might have a disagreement on this subject. Such hyperbole is emotional, and not very scientific.

Radical Rodent

David Appell said...

But the last decade has seen NO rise in temperature;

So what? It's happened before, and it will happen again. A decade or so is simply too short of a time period -- natural variability does not average to zero over it.

the 0.8°C rise has been since 1880...not a significant or frightening rise.

The rise is about 0.7 C since 1970.

The average change in global surface temperature from an interglacial period to a glacial is about 6-7 C. So the warming we've experienced in just 40 years is about 1/10th of an inverse ice age, and there is bound to be significantly more. That is a big, rapid change for this planet.

David Appell said...

natural cycles might be what this whole farrago is all about – let’s face it, there have been rises and falls in the cycle since time immemorial; why should this one be any different?

There are internal modes of variability that cause climate to change on the scale of a few decades, but in the past those changes have been significantly smaller than we've seen last century.

In the long-term climate doesn't just change naturally -- some factor(s) has to cause it to change. No one has identified any such factor that can account for the large change last century, other than the buildup of GHGs.

David Appell said...

Perhaps you meant .8C since...........1880?

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201213/ldhansrd/text/121108w0001.htm#12110877000303

(scroll down to Climate Change Questions)


I don't need to scroll down -- the number is easy to calculate for oneself. The HadCRUT4 data shows 0.7 C since 1970, 0.8 C since 1910, and 0.8 C since 1850.

Anonymous said...

The rise is about 0.7 C since 1970.” After a substantial drop since the 1940s, a drop that caused concern about the onset of another ice age. Geologically-speaking, longer timescales have to be considered – generally, the longer the better, but a century would be a acceptable minimum. Otherwise, we could really cause a panic to note that August in the Northern hemisphere can be over 20°C warmer than January (we wish!) – if that continues, we will fry by 2015!

In the long-term climate doesn’t just change naturally…” So, what caused the changes in history, if not natural variability? What caused the ice ages, if not some naturally-occurring event or conditions? Or the mediaeval warm period? What industrial concerns were in existence to trigger historical non-natural occurrence?
Other than intervention from the Starship Enterprise, everything is natural, be it solar flares, wobbles in orbit, or Earth-shrouding volcanoes; that is what is known as natural variability. What is causing the present rise has yet to be agreed, but it looks increasingly less likely to be CO2 concentrations.

I am sorry, but I cannot buy into this scare over warming Earth, especially as the past summers have been abysmal. What I do see is politicians using it to increase their own clutches to power, as they seek more and more devious schemes to extract money from the long-suffering tax-payer, and expand their control. And now they have the bright idea of “smart meters” to monitor individual energy usage, with the option of remote control of household appliances, with the intention of increasing the prices and reducing the energy available to Joe Muggins.

Radical Rodent

David Appell said...

After a substantial drop since the 1940s

Hardly. The data shows a drop of about 0.1 C.

It's now thought to have been caused by another anthropogenic factor: aerosols.

David Appell said...

What caused the ice ages, if not some naturally-occurring event or conditions?

Orbital factors.

There is no known such factor that would have caused 20th century warming.

There are internal modes of variability, like the PDO, AMO, ENSOs, etc, that can cause relatively small changes in a few decades. These would happen even if there the Earth were undergoing no energy imbalance.

Then there are factors that cause an energy imbalance -- orbital factors, changes in solar irradiance, volcanoes, changes in GHG content, etc -- that means the climate will shift until balance is restored. These have a natural cause (except today's buildup of GHGs), but are not internal variations.

The latter (except anthropogenic GHGs) are considered "natural factors." The former (internal modes) are also natural, but not in the same class.

David Appell said...

What is causing the present rise has yet to be agreed, but it looks increasingly less likely to be CO2 concentrations.

Wrong. Nothing happening now -- nothing -- puts any doubt on the fact that CO2 caused a significant proportion of 20th century warming, is causing an energy imbalance at this very moment that is still creating warming, and will create even more of an energy imbalace in the future. Nothing.

Skeptics are getting all excited because the surface hasn't warmed in 15 years, but that is not problematic or unexpected, and they are going to (again) be very disappointed when the surface warms still more, as it must and will.

Anonymous said...

David, why did you say "the 0.8 C rise in global temperature last decade" when nothing of the sort actually took place?

Anonymous said...

And where's the 'hot spot'?

Anonymous said...

There is no known such factor…” Would you admit that there might be unknown factors?

I have read some post by a solar scientist (please don’t ask for a link – my present server is sporadic, tediously slow, and does not allow me access to many sites, and I would need to trawl through them all to get it. Try using Google; that’ll be how I found it) whose work more closely corresponds to that which has been observed; while we are now getting into a field that is way over my head (no pun intended), it does seem to be more likely that the Sun will have a far greater influence over the Earth’s climate than the efforts of all the life-forms on the planet – after all, it is the Sun that is causing the climate; without the Sun, Earth would be just an icy rock, sans life, sans climate, sans everything. I can accept that the condition of the atmosphere could have some effect, but I doubt that it would be as dramatic as is painted. However, there are a huge number of people whose livelihoods, wealth, power-grabs and reputations depend upon the emissions of humans being the only key.

“Skeptics” [sic] are not “getting all excited” by the lack of warming, but they are getting more sceptical. This lack of warming may not be “problematic or unexpected”, but it is funny to note that none of the models predicted it, and none of the models seem to be taking it into account. Surely, this has to imply that there is something wrong with the models (perhaps “unknown factors”)?

Radical Rodent

Anonymous said...

David, what is your response if the globe actually cools?

David Appell said...

David, what is your response if the globe actually cools?

It would (obviously) depend on how much, where, and for how long.

So far there are no indications at all that the globe is "cooling."

David Appell said...

Would you admit that there might be unknown factors?

There is no reason at all to think that what's happening with climate, over the long- or short-term, is inconsistent with an enhanced greenhouse effect or unexplainable except by some unknown factor. None.

David Appell said...

I would need links or at least a name to whatever mysterious work you're talking about.

but it is funny to note that none of the models predicted it, and none of the models seem to be taking it into account.

Where did you ever hear that climate models can predict every yearly twist and turn of every aspect of climate, including surface temperatures?

They can't, because what happens in the short-term is noise, not climate change.

David Appell said...

David, why did you say "the 0.8 C rise in global temperature last decade" when nothing of the sort actually took place?

Obviously, I mistyped. It's "last century."

Anonymous said...

Isn't the elusive 'hot spot' key to predictions of CAGW? According to the raw data, there is no such thing.

At what point does weather no longer represent "noise" but a climatic trend?

David Appell said...

Isn't the elusive 'hot spot' key to predictions of CAGW?

Is it? Why?

According to the raw data, there is no such thing.

Isn't there? What are the uncertainties on the raw data? (You'll notice Spencer doesn't say.) 7 yrs ago there was too much uncertainty to make a conclusion. Has that really changed now?
http://davidappell.blogspot.com/2013/06/hot-spot-or-not.html

Will Christy and Spencer be writing a paper with this result, for peer review? Right now it's just a blog post.

At what point does weather no longer represent "noise" but a climatic trend?

See my article:
http://www.yaleclimatemediaforum.org/2013/05/wither-global-warming-has-it-slowed-down/

Anonymous said...

David re 'hot spot', or rather lack thereof:

"So the measurements have cooled considerably, and the models have warmed considerably. Which, if either, is right?"

Seriously? OMG.

Anonymous said...

David: "There have been hiatus periods in the past — from about 1945 to 1975, and slow downs in 15-year warming rates around 1994-1995 — and there will likely be more in the future. Those times of hiatus are consistent with human-caused warming in the natural world, and they are no reason at all to be lulled into complacency."

Calling the 1945-1975 cooling a "hiatus" from warming is a nonsensical framing into the context of "global warming" theory. If you combine 1945-75 temperatures with 1998 to present, against the backdrop on increasing CO2, flatt to cooling far outweighs warming.

David Appell said...

Calling the 1945-1975 cooling a "hiatus" from warming is a nonsensical framing into the context of "global warming" theory.

Not at all. By 1975 the atmospheric CO2 level was 331 ppm -- 18% higher than the preindustrial level. CH4 and N2O were also higher. With land use changes, total emissions by 1975 were about 250 GtC, on top of a preindustrial atmospheric amount of about 600 GtC.

If you combine 1945-75 temperatures with 1998 to present, against the backdrop on increasing CO2, flatt to cooling far outweighs warming.

So? Since when do we add up years, and not degrees C?

Anonymous said...

We add years when establishing a trend.

Like the trend from 1979-1998 is 19 years long, just as the trend from 1998-2013 is 15+ years long.

What will be your response to continued flat-to-cooling global temps in 2017 -- when the two trends will be of equal duration?

David Appell said...

Correction to my comment at 10:46 am: about half those 250 GtC emissions went into the ocean.

David Appell said...

What will be your response to continued flat-to-cooling global temps in 2017 -- when the two trends will be of equal duration?

It depends on what has been going on. ENSOs? Volcanoes? Manmade aerosols? Ocean warming? All these things matter. You can't just say "the 15-yr trend is flat so AGW is disproved" -- that's completely unscientific.

There is absolutely no indication that the energy imbalance created by the enhanced (and enhancing) greenhouse effect has gone away. None. Exactly how that plays out amongst the various components of climate still has significant uncertanties, but as long as the greenhouse effect is enhanced and keeps enhancing there is no relief from the problem except insofar as short-term climate sensitivity is a little lower.

People in 2050 or 2100 or 2200 won't care if we had a surface temperature hiatus from 1998-2013, just as we don't care about the 1945-1975 hiatus.

Anonymous said...

What scenarios would falsify global warming theory in your mind?

David Appell said...

Nothing. Global warming is a fact, not a "theory." More greenhouse gases create more of a greenhouse effect. Both experiment and theory show it.

There are uncertainties about short- and long-term climate sensitivity, but there's no doubt they're nonzero.

Anonymous said...

Agreed!

Question is whether it's a big problem, moderate problem, or not a problem.

And "Uncertainty" is your back-door ticket to global command-and-control economies.

What's not to like?

David Appell said...

And "Uncertainty" is your back-door ticket to global command-and-control economies.

Only if people who prefer free markets -- really free markets, not subsidized ones -- stick their head in the sand and pretend climate change isn't real.

So far they -- and you -- show no signs of pulling your head out. Thus they aren't participating in the debate or the solution. So they get whatever others think.

Anonymous said...

Not sure what you're even saying here. Don't know of anyone who doesn't think climate changes. Except perhaps those who adjust the temperature record (to diminish past high temperatures) for political purposes.

People who disagree (and debate, though do not advocate your solution) with you about the scope of the problem therefore 'deserve' to have your green/socialist solutions shoved down their throats?

You yourself acknowledge that uncertainty exists regarding the actual scope (from large impact to negligible) of the issue. Yet you feel justified that your solution be forced on what is now approaching a majority who disagree. Even as evidence mounts that you are wrong. Your totalitarian impulse reveals you.

Hence your admiration/envy for the Chinese regime.

David Appell said...

Anon: There is no evidence I am wrong.

And I'm tired of you.

Who's next?

marke said...

Whether or not coal fired power stations are a good thing (environment wise) really depends on what they are replacing. And in most situations they are replacing millions of cooking fires, hundreds of thousands of ancient coal fired boilers, and removing the need for tens of thousands of dirty, wet outdoor coal storages.

The energy demand is already there, and is being met. Just not efficiently.

The precipitous push to ‘green, expensive power’ is plainly harmful to the environment, because those who cannot afford it still require energy and will source it where they can.

The new plants are 18% more efficient than most now used in western countries.