The only thing we can be sure of about the future is that it will be absolutely fantastic. So if what I say now seems to you to be very reasonable, then I have failed completely. Only if what I tell you appears absolutely unbelievable, have we any chance of visualizing the future as it really will happen.

- Arthur C. Clarke (h/t Brin)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Texas Hockey Sticks

Renowned paleoclimatologist and fellow Texan Gerry North has a nice summary of the latest version of the hockey stick on the Houston Chronicle's Atmo.Sphere blog.

His conclusion?
Global warming scientists are hardly surprised. While we do not have much data on the ‘forcings’ (e.g., solar brightness) of climate over that long period there is as yet no evidence of any contradiction with the assertion that the main culprit in the warming is the exponential increase of carbon dioxide which has continued unabated since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the late 1700s.
Hmmm, everything is still pretty much in line with what anyone who understands the basic ideas of the energy balance of the atmosphere would expect. Do we have to stop the presses again?

15 comments:

Dano said...

Do we have to stop the presses again?

No.

We simply have to say:

'already addressed and answered, long ago. We are moving on and we are not engaging in this pointless fake "debate". If you want to engage in society's real debate about how we cut our emissions, we welcome your input. If you want to engage in pointless rehashing of old arguments, we welcome you to head for the exit.'

Period.

Don't let them change these terms. What I wrote just above are the terms of the debate. Period. No deviation. Period.

Best,

D

David B. Benson said...

I have found it helpful to point some people to

British Columbia now warmer than at any time in the past 7000 years

and similar articles regarding Alaska and the Alps.

bernie said...

If you don't mind, I will wait for a more detailed analysis of the paper since it is after all in part a response to some fairly detailed criticisms of both the proxies used and the statistical methods applied. Mann et al., could have addressed all these issues - but it is probably best to take a careful look. Don't you think?

Dano said...

If you don't mind, I will wait for a more detailed analysis of the paper since it is after all in part a response to some fairly detailed criticisms of both the proxies used and the statistical methods applied.

Fine.

While you're waiting, the vast majority of people on the planet are not waiting, and instead are currently discussing what to do about adaptation to and mitigation of man-made climate change.

Let us know when you want to catch up and participate in modern, relevant discussion. F'r instance: how much can we rely on self-discipline vs taxation and elimination of harmful externalities?

Best,

D

Michael Tobis said...

I don't mind, Bernie. You are under no obligation to say anything about it, after all.

What Gerry says is simply that "there is as yet no evidence of any contradiction with the assertion that the main culprit in the warming is the exponential increase of carbon dioxide" which doesn't closely depend on new 1Ka result.

I have no especially informed opinion on Mann et al, except to say that the result they get is the result everybody who understands the physics expects. Their field is remote from any branch of climate theory in which I have taken a professional interest. I don't know whether their methods are sound, and I don't know whether their confidence bounds are supportable, and I don't plan to spend my energies on figuring it out.

The crucial fact remains that there is as yet no evidence contradicting physics-based expectations of a sensitivity on the order of 3 C, which would include a hockey stick shape on this time scale.

No contradictory evidence. None. That's the take home point.

bernie said...

Michael:
If the physics is open and shut, why the focus on paleoclimatology? If the paleoclimatology helps us rule out possible non-human factors then again I will wait to take a look at the study in more depth. But then of course the physics cannot be open and shut.

Dano:
How was the convention?
I have already indicated my interest in a tax based on actual changes in an agreed upon metric of temperature (as opposed to what for me is a highly problematic cap and trade program.) As to individual self discipline versus taxation -- I am not sure I see the difference under the tax program I prefer. Cap and trade, of course, is an entirely different issue since that does implicitly assume some ill-defined body making arbitrary rationing decisions.

Michael Tobis said...

hrm, if climatology were only about the global mean temperature sensitivity I'd be in favor of shutting most of it down.

That said, I made no claim to "open and shut". I only that there are reasonable expectations from first principles, and that for all the vast complexity of the system, these expectations largely match the observed changes.

tidal said...

Does anyone know the origin of the general meme like the one above: "based on actual changes in an agreed upon metric of temperature*"? (*as opposed to carbon)

We saw the same thing at Climate Progress today (snowblind). Obviously there are serious problems with latency, and mutliple forcings that can obscure signal from noise on shorter timescales, so it is a deficient (and dangerous) proposed metric. But I have seen it surfacing frequently. Anyone know the derivation? (It reminds of the old "I definitely am against pollution, but don't think we should waste efforts on something that is not pollution"... which was a CEI dog whistle...)

Steve Bloom said...

Tidal, I believe that was a reference to McKitrick's proposal for a carbon tax. Unsurprisingly it was designed to not work.

Dano said...

Does anyone know the origin of the general meme

Wasn't RP Sr riding that hobby horse for awhile? That is: temp is meaningless, and we are measuring temp, therefore there is no GLOBUL WARMIN or some such.

Best,

D

Michael Tobis said...

To be clear, McKitrick proposes a global mean temperature tax and NOT a carbon tax.

I believe it can be demonstrated that it cannot work; i.e., that it cannot produce good results in both the cases that a) IPCC consensus is about right and b) IPCC consensus is a severe overestimate.

Note that it also assumes the wrong framing, since it ignores c) IPCC consensus is a severe underestimate. As I've often pointed out, in a risk analysis, c) dominates a). So, the less you believe the consensus, the more worried you should be.

Even leaving that aside, a temperature tax sufficient to yield a good result in case b) will not be satisfactory to proponents of a, as they could easily determine if they were to take the time to understand b). The main reason is the time lags in the system.

I think there is merit in the idea of a tax that increases as CO2 concentrations increase.

David B. Benson said...

Michael Tobis --- Logarithmically?

What about methane?

bernie said...

Michael:
How exactly will the tax on CO2 concentration work when the tax on the effects of CO2 concentration will not work? I don't get it. Do you have a reference on why McKitrick's proposal will not work?

Michael Tobis said...

I don't have a "reference", but I intend to try to come up with an explanation.

Hank Roberts said...

> actual changes
That's to ignore committed change in the pipeline, by ignoring the physics. Same argument denying the value of foresight from scientific knowledge is used for lead, mercury, asbestos, tobacco, acid rain, overfishing ....

Apropos Dessler and North, the earlier seminar video much cited in blogs has been moved:



For those who may have followed this Google result and not gotten the file, it’s moved.

Science and politics of global climate change: North on the hockey stick, Sep 4, 2006 … Last week he gave an interesting seminar to our department …

Description still at the old web page:
sciencepoliticsclimatechange.blogspot.com/2006/09/north-on-hockey-stick.html

But if you click the link you get
File not found:
http://www.met.tamu.edu/people/faculty/dessler/NorthH264.mp4

"hello. the link is now http://geotest.tamu.edu/userfiles/216/NorthH264.mp4
unfortunately, the old link is no longer available. spread the word..."

(hat tip and thanks for the reply in email from Andrew Dessler)