Tree-rings inaccurate after 1960’s BECAUSE of Co2.

Local Commentary: Thoughts on ‘Climate-gate’: Mitigate our impact

By Pete Wyckoff

Is the planet cooling? “I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick…to hide the decline,” writes climate scientist Phil Jones in a stolen 1999 e-mail which has caused a frenzy. FoxNews.com tells us that we finally have a ‘smoking gun’–proof that scientists are manufacturing a global warming crisis so that they can… they can…(I’ve never really understood the goals of the evil scientific conspirators).

The planet is warming. The data are unequivocal and based on measured temperatures (corrected for things like the “heat island” effect, so please don’t write an angry response claiming that the thermometers are wrong). What Phil Jones was referring to is something else: past temperatures estimated via tree rings. Since 1960, the rings in trees seem to have lost some of their power to record temperature.

Why should tree rings indicate temperature at all? As most of us learned in childhood, the trunks of trees at our latitude tend to put on a distinct growth ring every year. All other things being equal, when the trees are happy, they put on a large ring. When the going gets tough, the rings get thin. What makes a tree happy? Light, nutrients, lack of disease, and warmth (to a point). What do trees despise? Drought. By careful interpretation of past tree growth patterns, we can learn a lot about past climates.

Scientists have spent many years developing the techniques needed to reconstruct climate via tree rings. The problem is that in the past few decades, the tree ring-climate relationships seem to have become “decoupled” in many areas. Why? The main cause seems to be increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide. While carbon dioxide is famously a gas that heats the planet (the greenhouse effect is real and uncontroversial), carbon dioxide also directly impacts plants. Carbon dioxide fuels photosynthesis, and increased carbon dioxide in the air can both speed-up plant growth and make plants less sensitive to drought.

Decreased drought sensitivity is an expected response for plants exposed to high levels of carbon dioxide. All along the underside of a plant’s leaves are little holes called “stomata.” These holes can open and close. A tree must open its stomata to take in carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. Unfortunately, plants lose water out of their open stomata. Plants growing in air that has lots of carbon dioxide can reduce the amount of time their stomata are open, thus making them lose less water and become less susceptible to drought.

Biologists call the concept here “water-use efficiency,” and it is of crucial interest to farmers and foresters alike. Carbon dioxide causes warming that will likely make west central Minnesota a drier place in the future. At the same time, increased carbon dioxide in the air makes plants growing in our region less susceptible to drought. The balance between these two forces will be crucial.

The changing relationship between climate and tree growth is a hot topic of research at your local university. Last Friday, Dr. Chris Cole and Dr. Jon Anderson, of the University of Minnesota, Morris, published a paper in the journal “Global Change Biology” showing that aspen trees in Wisconsin are growing faster than they used to, and much of the increase is attributed to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide. Two weeks ago, a former student and I published a paper in the “Journal of Ecology” showing that oak trees in west central Minnesota became less sensitive to drought during the 20th century. If “dust bowl”-severity droughts come again soon, we project that the local oaks will suffer 50 percent less mortality than they likely did in the 1930s.

So what does this all mean? The relationship between tree rings and climate is becoming muddied by the rapid recent increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide. For most of the past 10,000 years, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere remained reasonably stable. Now they are skyrocketing. Modern tree rings are no longer the reliable recorders of temperature they once were. It is a good thing that we now have thermometers.

What does Phil Jones’ stolen e-mail not mean? It does not mean that global warming is a hoax. It does not mean that there are really any cracks in the scientific consensus that humans are causing dangerous alterations to the global climate.

We humans are changing the climate, largely by emitting vast quantities of carbon dioxide via the way we heat our houses, fuel our cars, and generate our electricity. This is unwise. Yes, the future climate, along with the increased carbon dioxide, may be good for some. For most people, however, the downsides of climate change are likely to far outweigh the benefits. Don’t let Fox News mislead you. As a prudent, conservative people, we should take serious steps to mitigate our impact.

Dr. Pete Wyckoff is Associate Professor of Biology at the University of Minnesota, Morris.


http://www.morrissuntribune.com/event/article/id/20026/

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6 Responses to Tree-rings inaccurate after 1960’s BECAUSE of Co2.

  1. This makes sense. Since the possibilities for “stress” on trees could be many and we don’t know the climate of the past in very much detail to understand what stresses may have been hitting plants for various periods it seems impossible to say with any certainty that any particular period is accurately represented by the tree ring data.

    Since we don’t really know if temperatures were higher or lower in the past because we don’t have great certainty in the proxies it seems we can’t really say that very detailed analysis and modeling of these temperatures using computer models could possibly have “higher” accuracy.

    We really can’t know any of the things that some scientists are claiming. THere are a bunch of speculations that are really completely unproved.

    • eclipsenow says:

      We really can’t know any of the things that some scientists are claiming. THere are a bunch of speculations that are really completely unproved.

      There’s an assertion that needs a bit more evidence.

      Test samples in science often work under some conditions, but not others. Distinguishing the variables is what matters, and this paper threatens to add credibility to the tree-ring data which sceptics want to throw out because of the 1960’s ‘decline’. (And if I hear another sceptic refer to about “hide the decline” from the so called “climate-gate emails” as proof that climate-gate scientists tried to hide an actual decline in temperatures, I think I’ll puke. Where do Fox News get these morons!?)

      What denialists have to deal with is why the tree rings track so well for the 80 or so years they do correlate pretty much exactly with the instrumental record of temperatures? Why do they track so well with all the other proxies, like stalagmites, ice core samples, etc? It’s not like tree-rings are our only window into temperatures of the past.

      Arguing that because this particular sample doesn’t work after the 1960’s, therefore we have to throw out the last 1000 years worth of tree-ring data, is a bit disingenuous. Denialists want to just ignore the fact that science may have narrowed down why the tree rings don’t track well after 1960, and cloud it with “other possibilities”. But this phenomenon is so well documented that scientists have used it to compare atmospheric Co2 between now and the deep past, when dinosaurs roamed the earth. They used fossil records of the ginko plant and compared the far smaller number of stomata then as compared to now.

      (Yes, climate scientists are aware that the earth’s pre-history had periods of far-higher Co2 concentrations than today. The argument is not that the earth has never had to survive high Co2, but reading the likes of Denialist Ian Plimer, you’d get the impression that most climatologists hardly knew the earth had experienced higher Co2 than today! What a straw-man argument that one is! Anyway, studying the deep history of climate on earth can be quite alarming, as some very ‘bad things’ can happen when Co2 gets higher than today. Check out ABC’s “Crude” documentary free online, or the wiki on 3 separate climate disaster ELE events. )

      We have to sustain 6.7 billion human beings on this planet now, possibly 9 billion by 2050. It seems truly perilous to suggest that we’re going to be able to do that in a dramatically shifting climate where bread-baskets could dry up overnight, crop friendly climate zones move north from America into Canada before economies can adjust, with whole terrains and national parks being bulldozed to make way for new farmlands…. ?

      The only relief we’ve had from this subject is “Glaciergate”, where sadly the IPCC seems to have let material through that was not peer-reviewed. I for one am very glad that the glaciers are not going to disappear for another 200 to 300 years! But otherwise, the IPCC is a dinosaur, a scientific organisation crippled by the politics of various international lobby groups as each report struggles to be published.

      Climate science has completely changed in the last 2 years, and the IPCC is not up to date. EG: The IPCC think we can still let the planet move to 450 ppm Co2, but the new consensus amongst climatologists is that 350 or below is the only safe level, and we’re already at 385!

      And people want to argue about tree-rings!

  2. > There’s an assertion that needs a bit more evidence.

    When we say quantum mechanics is proved better than almost any theory in history it’s because many many scientific measurements have been done independently and in each case the result confirms the theory to an accuracy as close as our instruments can measure which is in many cases 10 or 15 digits of accuracy.

    Climate science bases its “proof” on tree proxies which work sometimes and don’t other times and we don’t understand exactly why they do or don’t work. The only thing we know is that they correspond for an 80 year period with other thermometers within a few tenths of a degree.

    Climate science then builds models which hae never actually been tested against real data and measured with real data let alone to any precision. The models we know are incomplete and are built on assumptions that have NOT been proved. They have numerical statistical difficulties that defy logic.

    I’m sorry. I don’t need to prove climate science is a joke. They have to prove why it isn’t. The first step would be to generate models which actually generate results that conform to actual data not to proxies.

    You can believe whatever you want but don’t call it science and don’t say anybody has the arrogance to suggest that climate science is known enough to be called “proved.”

    >”this paper threatens to add credibility to the tree-ring data which sceptics want to throw out because of the 1960’s ‘decline’.

    Actually many skeptics want to keep the tree ring data. It was michael mann who threw out 75% of the trees for an unknown reason. Most skeptics would rather he kept in all the tree data or at least come up with a plausible reason for throwing the data out other than they didn’t conform to his pre-concieved result. Some scientific reason.

    >(Yes, climate scientists are aware that the earth’s pre-history had periods of far-higher Co2 concentrations than today. The argument is not that the earth has never had to survive high Co2, but reading the likes of Denialist Ian Plimer, you’d get the impression that most climatologists hardly knew the earth had experienced higher Co2 than today! What a straw-man argument that one is! Anyway, studying the deep history of climate on earth can be quite alarming, as some very ‘bad things’ can happen when Co2 gets higher than today. Check out ABC’s “Crude” documentary free online, or the wiki on 3 separate climate disaster ELE events. )

    There is a bigger problem. Humans cannot generate much CO2. Within a few decades we will consume nearly all the stored carbon in the planet available through fossil fuels. Therefore we will never get much beyond doubling CO2 once. So there is zero danger of getting to dangerous CO2 levels. That is one of the ridiculous canards put out by the extremists.

    >We have to sustain 6.7 billion human beings on this planet now, possibly 9 billion by 2050. It seems truly perilous to suggest that we’re going to be able to do that in a dramatically shifting climate where bread-baskets could dry up overnight, crop friendly climate zones move north from America into Canada before economies can adjust, with whole terrains and national parks being bulldozed to make way for new farmlands…. ?

    What your describing is the history of the last 16,000 years and the growth of human beings has grown dramatically as the earth has warmed. Even as we came out of the mini ice age of 1650 and temperatures have risen 1.5 degrees mankind has done better and better. You seem to assume that the current temperature is somehow “optimal” and that any rise is “tougher” than current temperautes. The history of mankind and the earth is that as temperatures have risen so has life and so has prosperity and carrying capacity of the planet. It is really more for your to prove that this trend will stop and that somehow the next degree (assuming it happens which I point out is NOT proven) is bad and not good.

    As the article above points out the latest .6 degree and higher co2 has actually “fed” plants to the point that they are more immune to drought. If you fly much you will notice that half the planet is covered in ice. It’s hard to believe life would be worse off if temperatures climbed another degree or 2.
    > The IPCC think we can still let the planet move to 450 ppm Co2, but the new consensus amongst climatologists is that 350 or below is the only safe level, and we’re already at 385!

    THat’s pretty ridiculous. As you point out we are already at 385 and if you haven’t noticed our biggest problem is the hundreds who died from freezing this last month and the earthquake in haiti which kileld hundreds of thousands of people. Neither of those are the result of global warming. It’s a marginal issue whose effects even in a worse case are marginal. As an example of how easy it is to overcome these “effects” of global warming: France had 14,000 people die from a heat wave in 1998. A heat wave a few years later that was worse resulted in 10 dead. If france was like the US and they had air conditioning or a prevalence of fans, etc… they wouldn’t have had the 15,000 die but they have lived in a lucky zone and they never experience 100 inches of snow in a winter or 100 degree temps for weeks or earthquakes so they aren’t prepared like we are but they learned very fast and in a couple years reduced the death rate from a heat wave by 99.9%.

    • eclipsenow says:

      Climate science bases its “proof” on tree proxies which work sometimes and don’t other times and we don’t understand exactly why they do or don’t work.   The only thing we know is that they correspond for an 80 year period with other thermometers within a few tenths of a degree.

      So I’m no scientist, but I understood that there were demonstrable, repeatable tests they could run on Co2. In a laboratory with Bunsen burners, white coats, and everything!

      These spectrometry tests tell us how strong the heat reflecting properties of Co2 are, how strong they are with methane, Nitrous Oxides which are something like 300 times stronger, etc.
      http://chriscolose.wordpress.com/2008/03/09/physics-of-the-greenhouse-effect-pt-1/

      http://chriscolose.wordpress.com/2008/03/10/physics-of-the-greenhouse-effect-pt-2/

      Then it’s a little bit of math to compare Co2 before the Industrial revolution (280ppm) and now (385ppm) and they can tell you from this repeatable, demonstrable math how much extra energy is being trapped per cubic meter of atmosphere. (3 little Christmas tree lights).

      Climate science then builds models which hae never actually been tested against real data and measured with real data let alone to any precision.   The models we know are incomplete and are built on assumptions that have NOT been proved.   They have numerical statistical difficulties that defy logic.

      You don’t know much about James Hansens models then. Please watch the youtube video… don’t worry, it’s for grownups (not like much of the puerile rubbish on youtube).

      This youtube also demonstrates the physics of Co2. This test could be rigged up in almost any science laboratory on the planet. See the candle at 1 minute 30 seconds.

      I’m sorry.   I don’t need to prove climate science is a joke.   They have to prove why it isn’t.   The first step would be to generate models which actually generate results that conform to actual data not to proxies.

      Done, see above youtube.

      You can believe whatever you want but don’t call it science and don’t say anybody has the arrogance to suggest that climate science is known enough to be called “proved.

      Hey, I’d be the first to celebrate if the PEER REVIEWED science suddenly announced they’d finally found a natural ‘circuit breaker’ that demonstrated once and for all that the climate was going to be OK. But it would have to be PEER REVIEWED and not subject to the whims and fancies of fossil-fuel funded anti-science propaganda mercenaries. I’ve seen too many of those in action, and their tired old anti-climate arguments were addressed by the PEER REVIEW process years ago.

      All I can say is that climate scientists are not saying they have a crystal ball, and there will probably be some surprises. But there is more than enough evidence about what Co2 and methane do, and the risks we are playing with. You sound like the insurance client that demands to know exactly what time the fire will strike and how much damage it will do before you’ll take out fire insurance.

      Your comment about the tree-rings
      seems to imply you don’t know that there are differing degrees of usefulness from trees from different latitudes and regions. Again, they’re just eliminating the other influencing factors and this is all in the peer-review process. There’s nothing ‘sneaky’ going on. I don’t have time to look it up, but the papers that discuss it are out there if you’ll search around on Realclimate.org and read through the comments.

      Peak fossil fuels?
      Yes there were problems with the IPCC modelling in exponentially increasing Co2 production from mythical quantities of oil, gas, and coal. The climate guys back then were not communicating with the resource geologists in the same way they are today. But peak oil, gas, and coal will not save us from climate change. We can’t afford to burn the remaining oil, let alone the gas, and the coal could ‘cook us’ 5 times over. So while the IPCC report made the mistake of increasing fossil fuel use to 2100, it also had another problem: the last report still says we can live on a safe planet at 450ppm. According to the most recent climate science, that is now down to 350ppm, and we’re ALREADY at 385ppm! In other words, many climatologists are ALREADY saying we’re too late, and that the natural feedbacks such as the frozen clathrates, the Arctic ice-sheet, the Siberian peat bogs releasing methane, etc will all kick in and DWARF our Co2 levels. We’re pushing a car towards the brink of a cliff, and soon we may see the car fall on its own… unless it is NOT too late, and we really take emergency action now.

      I agree that ice-ages are bad. Warm, where we are now, is good. But “hot” is bad. Very bad. We’ve yet to see all the warming effects from today’s levels of Co2, what about tomorrows? Again, we can’t afford to burn the remaining OIL, let alone the gas and coal.

      Oh, and you keep saying “You assume…”

      I don’t assume anything, I’m not a scientist developing these models and running these empirical tests.

      I’m approaching this with an arts background as an interested speculator watching the Denialists parrot the same old dogma’s, and watching the peer reviewed science tear them apart again and again and again. It’s actually getting boring, because I can predict the top 28 myths that the Denialists will push, and I’ve seen the responses from the most prestigious scientific organisations on the planet, and they win me over every time. Climate is a complex story, but it is one that even a maths hating non-scientist like myself can come to roughly understand if one reads enough.

      EG: You just repeated the “Co2 is good for plants so will be good for us!” myth. No. See here.
      http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11655-climate-myths-higher-co2-levels-will-boost-plant-growth-and-food-production.html

      http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v440/n7086/abs/nature04486.html

      350ppm limit
      The 350ppm limit is not ridiculous as the climatologists are modelling the way the extra energy from today’s 385ppm is still being absorbed by the system and we are still to see all the effects. However, WHO estimates that about 200 thousand people die from global warming each year! Sure there might be *some* winners from global warming, but the majority of climate scientists are saying climate change ranges from bad, to worse, to run to the hills. And the people dying are not in rich countries like France, but in poorer nations whose agriculture is failing. At the moment…

      But when the combined effects of peak fossil fuels AND climate change hit, with new unreliable rainfall patterns way outside their normal parameters, and America is no longer the same reliable bread basket it once was, who can say how many in first world nations will die? And even if we the rich Western world survives climate change, what is the economic cost of losing say half of the American bread basket? (To say nothing of the ecosystem damages. Read the wiki on ELE’s and check out how many relate to global warming).

      
Again, this is simply the best picture I can obtain from the peer reviewed science. I don’t say any of this in my own authority, but that of the peer reviewed science. I’ve heard almost every denialist argument there is, and yet it still fascinates me how people would rather live in a world of a Dan-Brown sized conspiracy rather than accept the simple scientific truth: Co2 warms the planet, and that could be bad.

  3. > I understood that there were demonstrable, repeatable tests they could run on Co2.

    Sorry. There is no question that CO2 absorbs radiation and re-emits it as heat. That is not a question. The question is what happens to that heat. Climate researchers have models that they have built on assumptions and compared to proxy data and think work well.

    WHat I’m saying is not disputing the physics of CO2 as a greenhouse gas. The problem is that the radiation of heat by CO2 alone only gives maybe 0.6 degree / doubling of CO2 and so if that were the case even if we could find enough carbon to burn to double the CO2 in the atmosphere twice we’d only get about 1 degree rise in temp. That’s not enough to cause people to worry, especially as it would take hundreds of years. What Climate theorists have done is take that effect and then postulated through computer programs they don’t release to us “laypersons” using data they keep secret that they have proven that temperatures will rise by 2 to 6 degrees / doubling not .6 degrees.

    I’m just saying the modeling part is unproven. Also, the proxy data doesn’t look very reliable or provably related to temperature with any high accuracy. Therefore they have questionable models with unproven thesis in them, which they won’t disclose the source code for or tell us what initial conditions they use and they have no real data to measure but only proxies of questionable merit. They then run these hidden programs and produce results they say match the questionable proxies and tell us they can predict the future with 95% accuracy and then proceed to be unable to tell us why the models immediately fail to predict the next 12 years.

    I’m not saying they can’t be right. I’m just saying what they are doing isn’t “provable” at this point.

    > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6Un69RMNSw

    This is not a scientific paper but an advocacy video. I could have almost any theory I wanted and put up a tape like that showing selected information to support it. I’m talking science not advocacy. Unfortunately much out there is advocacy. The IPCC writers admitted that some sections of the report were written as advocacy not science. We should all be concerned about things like that.

    > But there is more than enough evidence about what Co2 and methane do, and the risks we are playing with. You sound like the insurance client that demands to know exactly what time the fire will strike and how much damage it will do before you’ll take out fire insurance.

    Apparently you are sold on the “theory”. I am simply saying there is no proof this theory is right now based on a lot of very weak science. The lack of transparency by the modelers is particularly striking. How can we accept “proof” of anything without the source code so we can run it ourselves and see what they change and what assumptions they are making? How is it that the proxies are so weak? Really tree rings? Tree rings which could be getting bigger or smaller for dozens of reasons other than temperature. Then they don’t even bother with the simple scientific step of explaining exactly why they remove certain trees from their samples or how. They don’t show how their sampling method changes the results. Then we have models that are changing daily but we are told are “getting better”. WHat is proved? What model? What are the accuracies of the models? Did anybody mention that the models could be off by -10 or +10 degrees which is larger than their estimate of the change meaning there is no significance to their prediction?

    I’m skeptical of really any bad effects from global warming even if we get it. Every time the temperature has risen life has expanded and gotten better on earth and humanity has benefited. Why is todays temperature the perfect temperature? Why wasn’t the ice age 16000 years ago a better temperature? Why isn’t 2 degrees warmer going to be even better? Better for who? Lots of these scare mongering positions are possible for almost anything. It’s very convenient for getting funding to scare monger but do these scare mongerings turn out true? Almost never. Believe me, I know. I fell for a few of them in my time. Seems like a lot have fallen for this one.

    But even if it is true all I’m saying is that this is not proven science. Far from it. Advocates are saying its “proven” so they can pressure people but the fact is that there is a lot that is uncertain, enough to easily make the predictions false.

    > We can’t afford to burn the remaining oil, let alone the gas, and the coal could ‘cook us’ 5 times over.

    If we burned all the coal maybe we could get 2 doublings of CO2 but you have to remember we are talking about reality here and the cost of alternative fuels is falling 7% / year and the cost of oil and coal and other fossil sources is climbing. At some point these 2 lines cross and people will stop using fossil fuels for natural economic reasons. So, the idea humanity burns fossil fuels 50 years from now in ever growing amounts is ludicrous. We will stop burning this stuff and there will be some fixed limit most likely somewhere around 1 doubling of co2. If there are no “enhanced” effects then the earth will warm 0.6 degrees from that doubling, plants will be hardier and basically nothing much will have been changed. That is by far in my opinion the most likely result of all this. It is unlikely to me that there are “positive reinforcements” of any magnitude that make the climate system highly sensative to CO2. We’re already seeing that even as we pour CO2 into the atmosphere at huge growing rates that temperatures have gone nowhere for 12 years. It’s clear there are other significant offseting effects that models don’t understand. We should also have seen more severe variations in the past if there were such structural positive reinforcements in the climate system. I would expect we wouldn’t be here if there were such positive reinforcements. Also, we will never burn enough fossil fuels to do much more than 1 doubling. So, the worry is outstripping the reality. Unless it turns out all these alternative fuels stop improving in price and and fossil fuels somehow remain relatively cheap we will stop using fossil fuels in a few decades anyway. So the whole thing is a transitory problem that will work itself out naturally. Whatever effects of that surge of CO2 is we will just have to endure. I doubt seriously there are such positive reinforcements but in any case it certainly isn’t proven and if they were eventually proven a few degrees ISN”T proven to hurt us really.

    > We’re pushing a car towards the brink of a cliff, and soon we may see the car fall on its own… unless it is NOT too late, and we really take emergency action now.

    This is almost impossible to imagine. The earth has gone through so much over the last 60 million years yet many of the animals and plants are millions and millions of years older than even those 60 milllion years. It is very unlikely that a modest increase in Co2 is going to be noticed by the plants and animals of the earth compared to what’s happened over those years. We are smart. We adjusted to the 0.7 degree rise in temps in the 20th century without a blip. The idea we are somehow really put in danger by a small increase in a trace gas in the atmosphere when we’ve had temperature moves of 20+ degrees over that timeperiod and life went along fine is just ludicrous fear mongering. Maybe the french will no longer be able to grow wines in bordeaux and will have to move their wine industry north by 300 miles or give it up. I know that’s inconvenient but it isn’t the end of the world. Frankly that’s not even likely to happen. I am sure the french will figure out a way to save their wine industry just like they learned to prevent the 15,000 deaths from a heat wave.

    >EG: You just repeated the “Co2 is good for plants so will be good for us!” myth. No. See here.
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11655-climate-myths-higher-co2-levels-will-boost-plant-growth-and-food-production.html

    NASA satellite analysis revelas that since 1979 when satellites started measuring the planet signs of life on earth have increased 20%. This might be because of CO2 or just we are growing more and forests are doing better than we thought but the fact is that huge amounts of CO2 is not hurting life on the planet or food production. It’s up massively whether from CO2, technology or other reasons. I think we’ve already seen evidence as presented in the paper that started this discussion that life benefits from more CO2. They can’t even use tree rings anymore because the plants are doing so well. You predict catastrophe but there really is no “proof” of this and the data doesn’t support it. So, since the data is going the other way you and other alarmists suggest a “cliff.” However, there are virtually no “cliffs’ in nature like you suggest otherwise life would have ended on this planet long ago. The system is apparently quite stable actually.

    >us as the climatologists are modelling the way the extra energy from today’s 385ppm is still being absorbed by the system and we are still to see all the effects.

    The fact is there is no data to support the idea there is energy of any magnitude being stored anywhere in the system. You have to understand that the oceans have 300 times the heat capacity of the entire atmosphere. All the heat of the CO2 for centuries could be absorbed by the oceans getting 0.1 degree warmer overall. This brings another big problem with climate science. Co2 is a miniscule heat generator compared to the heat in the oceans, the sun of course and even all the other much more predominant chemicals that absorb and emit heat and energy. In order to believe that CO2 is causing all that is happening you have to believe we understand these other things to an order of precision that is impossible. We dont know anything about the oceans really. We don’t really understand the relationships of clouds and water vapor. These things are orders of magnitude more important than CO2 and we don’t have a first order real model of them that we have any confidence in. Recent articles coming out point this out. Water vapor in upper atmosphere accounts for 30% of the entire warming between 1990-2000. That was not modeled. Unless we can get these much bigger phenomenon better understood there is no point to trying to estimate the effect of Co2. This would be like trying to hear the echo of the big bang before we had modeled all the other energy signatures. We need to eliminate orders of magnitude “other” stuff to remove enough noise to see the “big bang” signature. It is painstaking work to do this. The models don’t do that. We can’t do it because we don’t even have any idea of the oceans.

    The rest of your post was more fear mongering. I would study economics if I were you. The ptoblem of economics is scarcity. Resources are always scare. Economics is the science of scarcity. Investment is scarce and we must invest in the right things to get growth and better life. Since the benefits of investing trillions in global warming theory are so speculative it is incredibly imprudent for us to spend todays dollars fighting something we will know more about and have more technology in the futrure to fight. We are actually MORE at risk if we spend our dollars today on speculative risk that turns out to be a lot less than we thought. That will leave fewer resources in the future to fight our real problems so what you suggest may in fact produce far more death than doing nothing. In fact almost certainly it will because we just don’t have enough information to make the right investments to mitigate damage we really haven’t done a good job estimating. THis is hard to explain in such a small space but it is much more dangerous for us to make speculative investments of large amounts of money for problems we don’t know about sufficiently.

    • eclipsenow says:

      WHat I’m saying is not disputing the physics of CO2 as a greenhouse gas.   The problem is that the radiation of heat by CO2 alone only gives maybe 0.6 degree / doubling of CO2

      Source please

      and so if that were the case even if we could find enough carbon to burn to double the CO2 in the atmosphere twice we’d only get about 1 degree rise in temp.

      Source please

      What Climate theorists have done is take that effect and then postulated through computer programs they don’t release to us “laypersons”

      Source please: I just read that 95% of the data is out there, and the only stuff that isn’t has some copyright release issues from the government agencies that gathered that data. This Science Show episode covers climategate and discusses the need to make all the data public, as it should be if we are going to change our planet’s energy structures in an emergency rush off fossil fuels. But it presents the economic interests in not releasing this data and does not really back the ‘conspiracy’ mindset that many Denialist’s carry.

      I’m just saying the modeling part is unproven.

      Did you even watch the Youtube clip I referred to? I was pretty darn impressed with Hansen’s modelling of the 1990’s, quite impressed indeed.

      Also, the proxy data doesn’t look very reliable or provably related to temperature with any high accuracy.

      We’ve established that you don’t like it, yes. But the scientists involved are learning more and more about it as new data sets emerge from multiple proxies.

      Examples of proxies include ice cores, tree rings, boreholes, corals, and lake and ocean sediments.

      Then they don’t even bother with the simple scientific step of explaining exactly why they remove certain trees from their samples or how.

      Honestly, can you please start backing up some of these statements? I thought EVERY study had to include a rationale behind what was used and what wasn’t.

      Did anybody mention that the models could be off by -10 or +10 degrees which is larger than their estimate of the change meaning there is no significance to their prediction?

      This kind of assertion, without any source material, is starting to sound certain alarm bells. Please refrain from such dramatic accusations without evidence. Thanks.

      Every time the temperature has risen life has expanded and gotten better on earth and humanity has benefited.

      Well, that’s because we’ve had it so cold lately. But LIFE hasn’t always done so well with it getting warmer.

      If we burned all the coal maybe we could get 2 doublings of CO2 but you have to remember we are talking about reality here and the cost of alternative fuels is falling 7% / year and the cost of oil and coal and other fossil sources is climbing.  At some point these 2 lines cross and people will stop using fossil fuels for natural economic reasons.   So, the idea humanity burns fossil fuels 50 years from now in ever growing amounts is ludicrous.

      Wow, do you have a source for the 7% decrease in costs? That’s amazing, and I hope it is true. But yeah, the sheer economic impact of peak fossil fuels is my only hope that we’ll eventually have to get off the stuff while we still *have some* energy for the transition. EG: Peak oil will be a horrible economic crisis because it takes oil to get off oil. We should leave it before it leaves us, and so IF global warming should turn out to be a huge hoax, I for one will be glad. It, more than resource depletion, seems to have stimulated the ability of society to imagine a world without oil.

      plants will be hardier and basically nothing much will have been changed.

      I addressed this in the last post. If you *keep* reasserting things after I’ve already addressed them with peer-reviewed science, my troll alarms will go off.

       

      It is unlikely to me that there are “positive reinforcements” of any magnitude that make the climate system highly sensative to CO2.

      Source please. All the climate science I read is VERY concerned about ‘climate switches’ or ‘climate magic gates’ or feedback loops. Some silly names, some serious stuff!

        We’re already seeing that even as we pour CO2 into the
      atmosphere at huge growing rates that temperatures have gone nowhere for 12 years.

      Rubbish, it was the hottest decade on record.

      It’s clear there are other significant offseting effects that models don’t understand.

      El Nino boosted 1998, La Nina ‘cooled’ since then, but 2005 and 2009 may have equalled 1998. So there’s complexities in modelling the ocean, but they’re getting better at it, and they know roughly where these complexities are. Now that 2010 is heading into a El Nino year, some have predicted THIS will be the hottest year on record. Will the Denialists then go quiet for a few years, and then re-emerge yelling, “Look, it’s been COOLING since 2010!” You heard it here first folks, cooling since 2010! 😉

      We should also have seen more severe variations in the past if there were such structural positive reinforcements in the climate system.

      We have seen them, but you don’t seem aware of them!

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleocene-Eocene_Thermal_Maximum

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triassic-Jurassic_extinction_event

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permian%E2%80%93Triassic_extinction_event

      I would expect we wouldn’t be here if there were such positive reinforcements.

      Fortunately, Co2 levels don’t get dangerously high frequently enough to trigger these events through natural mechanisms. It takes a truly extraordinary period of sustained volcanism (without all the particulates that can cause global dimming) to trigger the feedback loops. The last time seems to have been 55 million years ago.

        Also, we will never burn enough fossil fuels to do much more than 1 doubling.

      Again with the blunt assertion, and again with the request for a credible, peer reviewed source on this!

      I doubt seriously there are such positive reinforcements but in any case it certainly isn’t proven and if they were eventually proven a few degrees ISN”T proven to hurt us really.

      It’s not just like turning the air-conditioner up on a hot day. We are talking about a few degrees globally, but the energy from this seems to accumulate in areas we don’t really want it to. (the North). So rather than thinking about it as a particularly ‘hot’ day, try thinking about a few extra degrees across every season, every region of the globe, changing when various seasons arrive, throwing out ecosystem relationships with various food sources relying on precise (to the week!) timing in some cases, etc.

      This is almost impossible to imagine.  The earth has gone through so much over the last 60 million years yet many of the animals and plants are millions and millions of years older than even those 60 milllion years.   It is very unlikely that a modest increase in Co2 is going to be noticed by the plants and animals of the earth compared to what’s happened over those years.

      It’s already being documented! Try reading Tim Flannery’s “Weather Makers”. Various species have already gone extinct from today’s global warming, and this ship has hardly started to turn yet. Ecosystems are trying to move, but unlike last time when they had 10s of thousands of years to adapt and broad open wilderness to move, this time they have a few hundred years, and we’ve one and put cities and farmlands. In many cases the ecosystems are ‘stuck!’

      All the heat of the CO2 for centuries could be absorbed by the oceans getting 0.1 degree warmer overall

      Source?

      Water vapour is a constant, a feedback from changes in the Co2.

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