CO2 Sanity

Not too long ago a post at WUWT examined the most often-used data set for atmospheric CO2 concentration, from the Mauna Loa atmospheric observatory. The post itself is just a curve-fitting exercise, but the author doesn’t make outlandish claims about the significance of his conclusions. What’s disturbing is some of the reader comments, especially from those who don’t want to believe that the CO2 increase has been caused by human beings.

For example:

Robert of Texas says:
June 2, 2012 at 6:02 pm

What I fail to understand is how climate scientists attribute all the increasing CO2 to man … If
– man only contributes (less than) 5% of the total new atmospheric CO2 annually
– the amount of man-made CO2 is increasing faster than most models assumed
– CO2 is the primary cause of warming
– since 1992 (or there-abouts) most global warming is caused by humans
then shouldn’t we see a deviation of some sort from a nice curve? (starting around 1992)

If on the other hand the ocean’s are degassing we would not see such a man-made deviation – it would be too small to measure. Hmm, and that’s what we see…

Like too many people, he doesn’t want to accept the fact that although human emissions are only 5% (actually maybe 3%) of the flux in and out of the atmosphere every year, they account for more than 100% of the net. The other inputs and outputs would balance — as they have very closely for 10,000 years — but our “tiny” contribution has upset that balance. And since our excess has accumulated, we’re responsible for all of the increase since pre-industrial times. Which amounts to about 40% more CO2 than was there in pre-industrial times.

Another example:

Pamela Gray says:
June 2, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Anything as regular as this data says one of two things.

1. Manmade CO2 pump sitting next to the sensor and never shuts off and is exquisitely tuned to a rythmic increasing beat.

2. Artifact of the “fudge” factor part of the CO2 calculation.

Of these two scenarios, I think #2 has the greater chance of being the culprit. It is exceedingly rare for anything on Earth to be that regular (even if caused by human polution) unless someone fine tuned it to be that regular. It’s like finding a perfectly square rock in the mountains and finding out nature made it. Ain’t gonna happen. Chances are something that regular is wholly artifact. That a person can build a simple model to express the regularity of the signal is revealing, to say the least. Someone have the complete maths sequence for the CO2 calculation?

If you’d rather believe in fraud and conspiracy theories than in reality …

Another example:

Shyguy says:
June 3, 2012 at 12:26 am

Looks to me like the co2 records got corrupted just like everything else the ipcc get it’s hands on.

Dr. Tim Ball explaining:

Before you read the essay by Tim Ball, be sure to guard against your head exploding.

Yet another:

Bart says:
June 3, 2012 at 1:21 am

This question has been solved. The derivative of CO2 tracks the variation in sea surface temperature remarkably well. Temperature drives CO2. Human inputs are rapidly sequestered and have no significant observable impact.

The prevailing paradigm simply does not make sense from a stochastic systems point of view – it is essentially self-refuting. A very low bandwidth system, such as it demands, would not be able to have maintained CO2 levels in a tight band during the pre-industrial era and then suddenly started accumulating our inputs. It would have been driven by random events into a random walk with dispersion increasing as the square root of time. I have been aware of this disconnect for some time. When I found the glaringly evident temperature to CO2 derivative relationship, I knew I had found proof. It just does not make any sense otherwise. Temperature drives atmospheric CO2, and human inputs are negligible. Case closed.

A “stochastic systems point of view” — where have I heard that kind of thing before?

One more for good measure:

Lucy Skywalker says:
June 3, 2012 at 1:52 am

I agree with Tim Ball here, that Jaworowski is crucial, and has been brutally trashed by CAGW rednecks for his temerity in challenging the corruption of the science. I personally tend to leave Beck aside as though I regard his evidence as very important, it involves too many distracting issues. I did a whole page on the CO2 issue way back in 2009 and it is still relevant as ever.

People simply forget Henry’s Law, the titanic outgassing ability of the oceans in the tropics, and the ability of plants to suck in any spare CO2 – as the recent greening of the Sahel shows. These factors are what I believe the good Ferdinand Engelbeen fails to appreciate. And many others. The above “fit” is indeed seductive. But push the boundaries and the fit breaks down.

Now think. CO2 lags temperature by 800 years, according to Caillon et al. What happened 800 years ago?? Anyone?? And what cycle takes 800 years to happen?? Anyone??

Now think. We emit 30 Gtonne CO2 each year, and the atmospheric quantity increases by about half that. Anyone? Anyone??

Ferdinand Engelbeen showed up and tried to inject some sanity into the discussion. But by the time he got there the crazy was out in full force.

One of the objections from those who don’t want to believe that CO2 was stable until the industrial revolution is that the Mauna Loa data are too “smooth.” This contradicts the claims of those like Beck and Jaworowski, echoed by Tim Ball, that the CO2 level was extremely variable in the not-too-distant past (i.e., before the industrial revolution). Therefore some have promoted the ridiculous idea that the Mauna Loa data set has been “fudged” to give a false impression of steady increase of CO2 with little natural variation.

Mauna Loa isn’t the only place that CO2 concentration is monitored. It’s one of the best spots to do so, and has the longest continuous record of which I’m aware, but if you search the World Data Center for Greenhouse Gases (WDCGG) you’ll find 185 data sets for monthly average CO2 concentration from locations around the globe. Some are only brief, but at least 150 of them are long enough to identify the rising CO2 trend with confidence. In fact, 17 of the data sets have more than 360 monthly observations.

Four of the locations in that set of at-least-360-months have more than one record. In those cases I took the longer of the two choices, leaving records with at least 360 months’ data for 13 locations worldwide. They are: Ascension Island, Baring Head, Barrow, Monte Cimone, Guam, Key Biscayne, Cape Kumukahi, Mauna Loa, Niwot Ridge, Palmer Station, Tutuila (Cape Matatula), South Pole, and Schauinsland. By the way, the Mauna Loa record in the WDCGG archive isn’t the full record all the way back to 1958, it only starts in 1974. But for comparing with other locations, that’s plenty.

Here’s the data for all 13 locations superimposed on each other:

Clearly they’re all showing about the same trend. And that trend is remarkably smooth, although different locations tend to exhibit a different annual cycle of changing CO2 concentration.

To get the best comparison of the trends, we should remove the annual cycle and align the records. That gives this:

The red line is the smoothed average of all 13 locations. Does any of them show signs of the outlandish fluctuations claimed by Beck and Jaworowski, echoed by Tim Ball? No.

In fact we can subtract the smoothed average from each data record to show its deviations over time. If Beck/Jaworowski/Ball are correct about how much CO2 fluctuates, at least some of the deviations should be at least several 10s of ppmv or larger. But they’re not:

Either the smoothness of the Mauna Loa CO2 data is real, or somehow the world’s scientists have organized a massive, coordinated conspiracy to fudge all these other records too. In just the right way to make them agree. For the purpose of taking away our freedom and instituting world government based on socialism, no doubt. If you’d rather believe in fraud and conspiracy theories than in reality …

I’ve said before that a litmus test for real skeptics vs. fake skeptics is the loss of Arctic sea ice. If you don’t admit that it’s powerful evidence of global warming, you’re not “keepin’ it real.” Here’s another litmus test. If you seriously entertain the idea that the increase in atmospheric CO2 isn’t due to mankind burning fossil fuels, you’re not a real skeptic. You’re of the fake variety.

Unfortunately, fake skepticism is the defining characteristic of the movement to deny man-made global warming. Many of their “arguments” are a lot more subtle and sophisticated than the dumber-than-a-bag-of-rocks idea that CO2 increase isn’t due to mankind. But they’re just as wrong.

113 responses to “CO2 Sanity

  1. Excellent post! I get the 5% argument all the time. There are definitely a lot of half-truths out when it comes to climate skepticism, where statistics or physics are taken out of context. Thanks for giving me a good go-to the next time someone makes these arguments.

  2. The Crazy
    — by Horatio Algeranon

    The Crazy has
    An upward trend
    An exponential,
    Without end.

    It doesn’t wane
    But only waxes
    Kinda like
    Your income taxes.

  3. I told you the loss of Arctic sea ice is cause me and my fellow conspirators have been melting the ice purposefully to get funding for more research.

    And we need more volunteers to bring your hair dryers and extension cords. C’mon peeple we’re almost done.

  4. Ferdinand Engelbeen deserves much credit for his tireless (and always measured and unfailingly polite) efforts to address this common misunderstanding. I wrote a rebuttal of Prof. Essenhighs paper which argued that the short residence time of CO2 means that man cannot be responsible for the observed post-industrial increases. You can find my paper here: . The paper includes a discussion of the mass balance argument that establishes that the rise is 100% anthropogenic, and explains why the vast natural exchange fluxes mean that residence time tells you essentially nothing about the long term accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere, and concludes with a simple one-box model that explans why residence time is short, adjustment time (which is what matters) is much longer, why relatively little of the excess is of directly anthropogenic origin, and gives a constant airborne fraction in response to exponentially rising anthropogenic emissions. My intention in writing the paper was to be used as a peer-reviewed resource in addressing claims that the rise is a natural phenomenon. It seems odd to me that there are some skeptics that are unable to accept any part of the AGW argument, even elements that are known with very high certainty such as this.

  5. WUWT has recently descended into farcical/conspiracy theory territory (well, it was always leaning towards that, but seems to have gotten worse lately). The latest debacle there concerns Watts himself railing on about an article in the Guardian that claimed a 75% loss of arctic sea ice in the past 3 decades. Unfortunately, the article itself wasn’t well written, and wasn’t clear about whether the ice loss concerned volume or extent. Of course, Watts immediately jumped on the extent bandwagon, because a sentence or two later after mentioning the amount of loss, the article said something that *may have* implied extent.

    But it’s obvious to everyone that we haven’t lost 75% extent-wise. And I mean *everyone*. When a few of the sane commenters pointed out that via PIOMAS, a case could be made for for a 75% loss of ice *volume* over the last 30 years at the summer minimum, Watts then switched to the “it’s only a model!!!” defense. Some of the commenters acknowledged that there may well have been a loss of 75% of the volume over 30 years, but were still arguing about the semantics in the article. Now, think about the implications of that: if mankind has caused the melting of *75% of the arctic sea ice in a mere 30 years*, isn’t that, like, more than a subtle hint that what we’re doing to our environment isn’t sustainable?! But, no, the semantics of a poorly written article are more important to the WUWT sycophants. Despair in humankind is what that engenders. These people have lost the plot.

  6. If denial kicks in early enough in the logic chain the brain probably doesn’t have to do so much work to keep a person in denial.

    If a person accepts that humans are adding atmospheric CO2 then he or she has to say silly stuff like ‘CO2 is plant food’ in order to reject the adverse consequences. Either that or reject the greenhouse effect. It’s probably easier on their brains if they just say that CO2 isn’t increasing or if it is it’s not their fault.

    I’m not sure how their brain handles the matter of melting ice. It must be very tough on their logic processing faculties.

    • Pete Dunkelberg

      “It must be very tough on their logic processing faculties.”

      Naw, it’s easy. Processor defect.

  7. Jay Dee Are

    “The prevailing paradigm simply does not make sense from a stochastic systems point of view.” The prevailing paradigm makes sense from a radiative-transfer point of view,

  8. So, whats new there? Given the “right” newspaper, an article highlighting just reasonable facts harvests at least such online-comments (Germany, Welt-Online as an ugly example, but a real scary big part of other newspapers as well)
    Most commenters there dont even refer to an sceptic scientist or “sceptic” points of view, they just claim AGW is a conspiracy, lies, taxes, corruption, leftist or NWO-plans, and so on, without a shred of substantiation.
    CO2 being either a trace gas or being heavier than air in an climate that that has changed before is usually the most scientific argument they are capable of.

  9. Alex the Seal

    “It is exceedingly rare for anything on Earth to be that regular (even if caused by human polution) unless someone fine tuned it to be that regular.”

    I’m starting to get suspicious about the sun. It’s too predictable.

  10. And the tides, they’re WAY too regular.
    And then there are the seasons!
    I tell ya, this here conspiracy is way bigger than any of us can even imagine.

  11. Let’s explore what happens when carbon deposits (coal) are exposed by erosion so as to be at or near the Earth’s surface. As almost pure carbon, the coal can’t really chemically react with anything on its lonesome. It just sits there. But if you externally introduce a lot of heat to it (it takes quite a lot), it will start to oxidize and produce heat. Wood is like this too. The genius of early humans was to figure out to turn a small endothermic reaction into self-sustaining exothermic reaction. Spark, tinder, kindle, kitchen wood, fire wood, cooking wood, bonfire wood. As a Boy Scout (Troop 76, Easton, Mass.) we learned this whole process at age 10 coming out of a leaky tent at 6 a.m. to heat up our Tang. Making a campfire is the same as saying making CO2. Thank God that wood and coal doesn’t self-combust or we’d be in trouble.

  12. Mark Stewart

    The best argument for an ‘unnatural’ source of CO2 is the isotopic fingerprint, the decrease in 14C activity and the decrease in the 13C/12C ratio since the start of the Industrial revolution. This is a clear indication that the new carbon is ‘dead’ carbon from photosynthetic sources, e.g., fossil fuel carbon. As the Mauna Loa observatory sits 14,000 ft up in the middle of the Pacific on the upwind island, it would be amazing if the record were anything other than smooth. What is amazing is watching the NH ‘breathe’ each spring as plants bloom and soak up CO2.

    • Gavin's Pussycat

      Eh, I would say second best. The best argument is global fossil fuels mining statistics. Except for a minimal amount converted to plastics, that stuff is all burned, and the CO2 from it has to go somewhere.

      • John Mason

        Exactly, GP. I often wonder where these people think all of those combustion products go when billions of tonnes of fossil fuels are burned. Does the tooth-fairly sneak in while they are all asleep and miraculously remove it all? Or does some latter-day Gandalf raise his staff and boom, “BEGONE!”? Or is there a magic word anyone can use? Morano backwards sounds quite good. After me, everybody:

        ONAROM! ONAROM! ONAROM! Hey Presto! All carbon gone!

      • Add the well known mathematics of diffusion and dispersion which can always account for a “missing 40-50%” of non-sequestered CO2 and the anthropogenic mechanism becomes very well understood.

      • It’s not so minimal ~15% of the oil (about the same amount of coal goes to metallurgy but that does go to co2)

    • Given that individual CO2 sinks and sources are quite literally innumerable, and that the ‘well-mixed’ characteristic of CO2 is verified by a century or more of empirical observations, it would be passing strange if the Keeling curve were anything but smooth. “Law of large numbers,” and all that–as Herr Beck would have done well to remember.

  13. It is exceedingly rare for anything on Earth to be that regular …

    Yeah, sailors have positive hell with tides rising and falling without any rhyme or reason.

    Tide tables are a result of fudge factors, right? As are winter, spring, summer, fall.

  14. With disrespect to Mr. Anthony Watts and with respect to James Lovelock, the peculiar oxygen percentage of Earth’s atmosphere is solely due to the respiration of living organisms. Take them out and Earth’s atmospheric composition is wildly out of balance. Oxygen should not be this prevalent and stable in the atmosphere absent the chimerical chemical reactions performed by life. The same rule applies to CO2, which with sulphuric acid is the end product of planetary atmospheric evolution on Venus given sufficient solar input. I don’t see any evidence of Venus going through an evolutionary atmospheric change. It seems to be stuck where it is. Same with Mars, but for different reasons, mostly lack of gravity. Mars is stuck where it is; atmospherically. It’s the composition of Earth’s atmosphere that makes it uniquely capable of harboring life; and that atmospheric composition appears to be boot-strapped and sustained by life itself.

  15. Tamino, you say this level of denial is disturbing. It’s disturbing to me that people who can form sentences but can’t clearly think about what they write. But it’s not disturbing to me that these people are expressing themselves over there. Their ramblings are the most obvious evidence to a noob that climate change denialism is little more than crazy fantasy.

    • I have a rule of thumb, that says that when people come up with some catchy important sounding phrase, preferably with a famous name in it, and I don’t know what they mean – then they probably don’t know what they mean either. Most people who understand stuff can explain it pretty well.

      Favourite words are “thermalisation”, “sensible heat”, “enthalpy” etc. It seems the key thing is that they must sound a bit old fashioned. Henry’s Law is also popular.

      • One of hte benefits of a physics education is that I actually do understand what these terms mean–and it makes reading the denialists absolutely, fricking hysterical!!!

      • thermalisation” is how they make those candied apples at the fair.

        “sensible heat”, is using your furnace in the winter — as opposed to summer, which is called insensible heat.

        “enthalpy” is entropy with a lisp..

        ‘Henry’s Law” says if you try to dig faster than a steam shovel, it’ll prolly kill you.

        Hope that helps.

      • Isn’t that John Henry’s law?

  16. That place is good material to study the effect of full moon to the amount of crazy, the effect might be small but with that much material one might find a correlation. Thanks for the clear explanation of the process in and

  17. Ken Fabian

    The “anthropogenic CO2 is a small fraction of total CO2 entering the atmosphere” argument is one of the flimsiest in the denialist arsenal IMO. Although competition for worst is strong.

    I clean a pool and if I run a hose into it, that’s a tiny fraction of water that enters the pool – much more enters via the filter return. Therefore a rise in water level can’t be from the hose, but from the filter return? I don’t think so.

    Counting the CO2 natural processes put in to the atmosphere but not what natural processes take out doesn’t surprise me … Is that because the Carbon Cycle is one of those secrets only to be found in books written by scientists?

    • annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six: result happiness. annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six: result–who the hell cares? sixpence is way less than your total income, so it can’t possibly have any effect.

    • Gavin's Pussycat

      “But Your Honour,” argued the counterfeiter’s attorney, “those few bank notes that my client admittedly printed and entered into circulation are completely negligible against the background of, and by comparison with, the millions of bank notes that are being spent every single day throughout this great nation… my client didn’t cause any measurable damage. I move for dismissal.”

      • I did use the pool analogy to good effect – with a filtration system that holds more water than the pool itself. Whether that person went on to repeat the same erroneous argument elsewhere I don’t know. I suspect yes, that even after having been convincingly shown why the argument is flawed he would continue to use it; when it comes to influencing the opinions of the uninformed a ‘good’ argument is one that appears to persuade towards the desired viewpoint and it’s clear and obvious to (almost) all here that intellectual honesty has nothing to do with effective persuasiveness.

        Ultimately analogy isn’t good enough and knowledge of the Carbon Cycle – and all the rest of that body of knowledge of how our climate system works – is what counts. Most people – who as voters do have a modicum of influence – won’t ever have that level of comprehension and will be guided by voices they consider competent and reliable. When otherwise respected community leaders give climate science denial a mainstream credibility and respectability it utterly fails to earn – and lend their persuasive skills to it’s cause – they are betraying the interests of the people who’s trust they hold.

  18. “Their ramblings are the most obvious evidence to a noob that climate change denialism is little more than crazy fantasy.” – Steve L

    I think we underestimate at times the value of WUWT … it’s a nice collation of obviously bizarre rambling that any who even try an be objective can see the stupidity. And those who can’t see that, they would find something else to latch on to anyway so they can hide from reality.

    Here’s to WUWT: for consolidating stupidity in an easy to find repository.

  19. The comments on a fake skeptic site typically form a collective Gish gallop of wrong, crazy and not even wrong ideas. Perhaps what is most disturbing is that it doesn’t seem to trouble the commentators in the slightest that many of their ideas contradict each other. One will say that carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere have increased but it isn’t due to human activity, another will deny that CO2 has increased, while a third will admit that CO2 has increased and it’s anthropogenic but it doesn’t matter as it’s plant food. It doesn’t seem to matter what the mad-as-a-box-of-frogs idea is as long as it supports the idea that greenhouse gas emissions must not be limited.

    The other particular feature of this denial is not just the bad (absent) science, but the overwhelming use of poor elementary reasoning and logical fallacy such as the classic that “climate has changed before, therefore it can’t be us changing it now”. I wonder if these people apply such faulty logic in other fields or if climate change is the only scientific field they hold opinions on?

    • “many of their ideas contradict each other”

      Yes, it’s this. And I like those as well. Ooooh, that looks good. I don’t know how to choose. Perhaps I’ll have some of each.

      Sounds like a bunch of kids at the lolly shop on pocket money day.

      But it really doesn’t matter which you buy, they all rot your teeth.

      • Actually come to think of it, what is more disturbing are the numerous highly thought out but nevertheless completely bonkers comments.

        I don’t visit WUWT often as the comments tend to be so audaciously wrong that they demand a reply, but then you get bogged down in the sheer Gishiness of it all. However, what is noticeable is there are number of prolific posters who fit the above category, each with their own idée fixe. Myrrh’s is that carbon dioxide is heavier than air and therefore is not well mixed in the atmosphere, thereby invalidating the Mauna Loa record. Meanwhile, Bart is determined to show through that although anthropogenic CO2 emissions exceed the rate of increase of atmospheric CO2, nature may not be a net sink and may yet be the source of the increase itself.

      • ED: “Myrrh’s is that carbon dioxide is heavier than air and therefore is not well mixed in the atmosphere”

        There is an easy test for that: Are you currently dead? No? Then CO2 is well mixed.

      • Actually, they even have an answer for this Adelady. I once pointed out that many of the ideas they espoused were contradictory only to be told “We don’t have to prove our ideas are right, only that those of CAGW are wrong”. With contradictory and competing claims of no consequence, its the sheer volume of them all piling that is destined to destroy CAGW. Nice argument, ne?

        I wish I had pointed out the obvious flaw in his logic, but I must confess at being so utterly flabbergasted that I dropped the ball.

  20. Sometimes some arguments on WUWT seem plausible. Then they have one of these posts about CO2. Anyone who can’t understand that the rise in atmospheric CO2 is due to humans and mainly due to burning fossil fuels is beyond reason and hope. I am sure that it is not worth arguing with them. It is a good idea to help the general public understand this point. When I teach about climate change, I try to help students understand that anyone who claims that humans are not the cause of rising atmospheric CO2 is lying or grossly misinformed.

  21. Good God, the combination of stupidity and arrogance in that WUWT thread is mind-boggling. Ferdi Engelbeen struggles mightily to bring people back to reality, but it appears to be a lost cause.

    I know there are a lot of crazies over there, but it’s still disheartening that there aren’t more genuine skeptics willing to speak up.

    • It IS a lost cause, or at least those people at WUWT are. It’s a good thing that folks like Tamino (unlike Bret Anderson at the Weather Channel) screen them out of their comment sections, because they don’t come to reason and question and think, they come simply to mindlessly, relentlessly bludgeon and attack.

  22. John Mason

    Ned, the trouble is that if anyone attempts a rational, actual-science-based comment over there they simply get flamed to bits by a hardcore group whose existence appears to be for that very purpose and no other! Even “lukewarmers” get keel-hauled on a regular basis – to these guys that’s singing from the wrong hymn-sheet. As a consequence, rational discussion is almost always impossible and reading the comments requires the best head-vice money can buy!

    • metzomagic

      Definitely. There are 5 – 10 regulars over there who feel the need to comment on anything rational that any outsider says in an extremely derisive/dismissive manner. If you say black, they say white. If you say the sky is blue, they will come up with some contrived reason why it can’t be.

      If you hang out there mainly for the lolz, then you know who they are. I have given up trying to post anything there, because you just get “shouted down” in the comments. Really, it is just bullying tactics. Typical of right-wing authoritarian followers.

  23. LazyTeenager

    If you can understand how a bank savings account works, it’s easy to understand why the CO2 levels are creeping up with a little bit each year due to the CO2 added each month by human activities.

    So it’s pretty clear that climate skeptics can’t wrap their heads around a simple bank account. Ye gods!!!! I think I understand now why we had a catastrophic global financial crisis. Its Mortgage deniers!!!!

    Come to think of it they probably don’t believe in the GFC either. Or that they avoided a depression by the skin of their teeth.. They have that gut reaction that unemployment must be a plot by the President who is mean. Crazy guys.

  24. I cannot comment on WTFUWT, as I avoid that benighted site. What I can say is that increasingly I think people reject the idea of global warming because they feel they can do nothing about it. Rather than accept a hopeless situation, they argue from consequences that AGW must be false/a fraud/a scam. Such learned helplessness is just one of the ways the denialists have been effective.

    The reality is that even small actions could be very effective at buying time, and they would be beneficial on a personal as well as a societal level. Maybe this is what we need to emphasize. There are solutions–it is just that the Koch bros and Faux news don’t want you to know about them.

    • I think you are on to something very important about normal people here.
      In Denmark solar panels (PV) on private homes is booming at the moment (from a very low level). The reason is a favorable pricing.
      People say: ” It´s good for my economy and I like to do something good for the climate”. To mee it shows that a lot of normal people really are ready to invest if you show them what to do.
      This is where a government should act to help normal people. The deniers al of a sudden would become much less important if your neighbour was putting solar panels on his roof.

      • Indeed. In fact, the solar panel subsidy that our state government put in place had to be cancelled (after reducing the feed-in-tariff three times in an attempt to solve the problem) because it proved so popular that it was having a serious impact on the budget. (

        My father managed to get a 5kW system installed when the feed-in-tariff was still 40c/kWh, which he’ll continue to get for ten years from the installation date.

        I find it very hard to understand why the government thought it would be so hard to get people to install solar that they came up with such lucrative subsidies. Even now, without the high feed-in-tarrifs (down to 7.5 c/kWh from memory), it takes less than ten years for a new PV system to pay for itself for an average household. People love to get something “for free”, and that’s precisely what electricity from the sun feels like after the investment has been made (and it’s precisely what you get after the system has paid for itself).

      • In Denmark, it’s extremely hard to argue that it’s “good for my economy”. It was not an economic decision, but social policy to advance solar energy, damn the costs. Eventually those panels will pay for themselves, and maybe they even help the country to avoid building peak power plants, but as far as the “economy” is concerned, this policy probably shaved a fraction of a percent off Denmark’s GDP by sucking up money that could have been invested in something more lucrative.

  25. Ken Fabian wrote: “Counting the CO2 natural processes put in to the atmosphere but not what natural processes take out doesn’t surprise me … Is that because the Carbon Cycle is one of those secrets only to be found in books written by scientists?”

    Exactly. They aren’t even aware of the input column in the ledger, only the output column. The way to short circuit their argument is to point out that every single natural CO2 source has a corresponding and offsetting natural sink, even for geologic CO2. Humans, however, only emit, we provide no sink. Nada. Unfortunately, once you short out that argument they simply switch to another, and often contradictory one.

    WTFUWT is for people with too much time on their hands and nothing productive to do.

  26. L. Hamilton

    “I’ve said before that a litmus test for real skeptics vs. fake skeptics is the loss of Arctic sea ice. If you don’t admit that it’s powerful evidence of global warming, you’re not “keepin’ it real.” Here’s another litmus test. If you seriously entertain the idea that the increase in atmospheric CO2 isn’t due to mankind burning fossil fuels, you’re not a real skeptic.”

    Coincidentally we started quizzing people on what they believe about Arctic ice and CO2 trends on public opinion surveys last year, with interesting results currently in review. A related paper using a science-literacy quiz from the General Social Survey came out last week, abstract here:

    [Response: Any chance I could get a pdf? It sounds like a good topic for a post.]

    [Response 2: Found it.]

    • Send me an email if you’d like a copy of the Polar Geography article, or more info about as-yet unpublished new surveys. The new questions are carefully worded, e.g.

      Which of the following three statements do you think is more accurate?
      Over the past few years, the ice on the Arctic Ocean in late summer
      * Covers less area than it did 30 years ago
      * Declined but then recovered to about the same area it had 30 years ago
      * Covers more area than it did 30 years ago.
      * Don’t know

      [Response: I found a pdf of the article. As for the question … hmmmmmm … “less than.”]

      • Yeah, most people got that one right, although one particular wrong answer was 3 times more common among those who believe climate is changing but mainly for natural reasons, and 8 times more common among those who believe climate is not changing.

        We also asked a few questions that turned out to be harder.

  27. I’ve been questioning the convenience of exercises like the one in this post. A complete idiot makes an incredibly dumb claim, and a skilled mind devotes time and effort to respond and draw other people’s attention to it. Does it really help?

  28. Pamela Gray provides an excellent example of why Dembski’s “Explanatory Filter” fails to differentiate between natural things and designed ones.

    “It’s like finding a perfectly square rock in the mountains and finding out nature made it. Ain’t gonna happen”

    They are also apparently unfamiliar with iron pyrite.

  29. The delightful views of commenters at WUWT can only be appreciated when you grasp where these folk are coming from. Lucy Skywalker, featured in the post here probably comes from Tatooine. Thus the barren landscape she is used to may lead her to consider that the Sahel is greening (and so is sucking up all that lovely CO2).
    For normal folk who do not live as so many of the WUWT commenters do, on a different planet (metaphorically if not literally), talk of a greening Sahel should try to reflect the reality of it. Sadly the alien monsters roam our internet at will.

  30. I am not a scientist, I couldn’t hold a decent climate debate with any body who is. I have been following the climate debate for about 7 years, I think the skeptics have a better argument. I have always felt that way and yes, I have a political conservative bias. I am not a Christian and I do not believe in “creation science” nor do I believe the earth is flat. Am I able to think rationally and critically so as to change my point of view? Yes.
    So, here is what I think and if you want to call me a denier then go on, because I doubt you would to my face, that’s the way these blogs work. Is man releasing CO2 into the atmosphere? Yes, of course. Does CO2 absorb and release IR causing the earth to cool more slowly? Yes. Has the temperature increased in the last 100 years? Yes. Is this increase in temperature due to the release of CO2? Maybe some, not proven. Is it possible that CO2 alone could cause the warming? No, it would have to be supported with positive feedbacks. Have the positive feedbacks been proven? No. and they really don’t make any sense as any increase in temperature from any forcing would cause a positive net feedback and this would continue till the earth was cooked. Net negative feedbacks make more sense in a thermostatic kind of way as the earth stays about the same temperature.
    It also would be interesting to see how many of you responding to this blog are biased left politically. How many of you are biased toward modern environmentalism? Can you claim that you are capable of independent thought? How has your ideals been molded through a biased academia and media? I stopped my Popular Science subscription 20 years ago because of the environmental slant. I loved the science, too bad there was very little of it. Can you say that the science that you want to base your claims on has not been polluted by the same bias as Popular Science magazine?. Can you claim that the science has not been biased due to advocacy and money from environmental groups? I am not claiming a conspiracy, only that there is a left wing monopoly on academia and much of the media and it has been influential to many. I would guess that it has effected many of you. So before you start calling all of us idiot deniers and crack pots you may want to consider yourself first.

    OK…fire away!

    [Response: I’ll start.

    Your statement that “any increase in temperature from any forcing would cause a positive net feedback and this would continue till the earth was cooked” shows how ignorant you are about science. I don’t mean stupid, I mean ignorant, and I don’t mean about global warming, I mean about science in general. That’s why it’s so easy for fake skeptics to fool you. Which is exactly what they’ve done. The fact that you didn’t get suckered by the “CO2 isn’t man-made” line, doesn’t mean you didn’t get suckered. Royally.

    Here’a another clue for you: I don’t care about your political leanings, but the fact that you mention it reveals that you are the one whose beliefs are driven by ideology rather than science. But you raise the issue — specifically so you can accuse us of that?

    To summarize:
    1. You admit you’re not a scientist but somehow you feel qualified to pass judgement on the science.
    2. You state as fact (feedback cooking the earth) that which is not just mistaken, it reveals a depth of ignorance.
    3. YOU raise the issue of political ideology in order to accuse others of it.

    Instead of firing back some attempt at refutation, you should realize just how totally the fake skeptics have suckered you and get mad as hell AT THEM. And as a conservative, you should be super-pissed off because global warming is what’s gonna ruin our economy. Exxon-Mobil will get richer while the middle class goes broke.]

    • Eric,

      It is a fair question, and it is good that you ask it. It is also good that you approach the subject knowing that you know little about it. Many ‘skeptics’ fall into the trap that “if I don’t understand it, then it’s a hoax”.

      Positive feedback does not mean runaway warming. It only means that one initial energy imbalance will trigger other factors that will make the result larger. However, there are also negative feedbacks, and each increment of the process results in a smaller added imbalance than the previous one.

      The Glacial-Interglacial cycle is a good illustration of the process. When it warms in the interglacial, it does so more intensely than it would with the orbital forcing alone. OTOH, it does not keep on warming forever: it stops within some fairly constrained limits (in the case of the natural cycles you can observe in the Quaternary). Same things goes for the cooling process of glaciation. Eventually it comes to a point where the positive and negative feedbacks find a new balance.

      A few last things:

      – I’m not a scientist myself, just an interested layman. More qualified commenters may give you a more detailed answer or even correct some detail here, but this simple answer should be basically right.

      – I’m a businessman and tend to vote in right-wing(ish) candidates (as if it would change the physics). I get pissed when I face dumb bureaucracy and regulations that get in the way of my job.

      – If the political bias is important to you, try watching the videos of the republican geologist Dr. Richard Alley.

      Skeptical Science may be a good place to get that kind of question answered. You can even choose the degree of depth you want the answer in.

      • Eric, others have already addressed your “runaway positive feedback” misconception, but to illustrate that positive reinforcing feedbacks do not necessarily lead to runaway warming, try adding the the series 1+.5+.25+.125+.0625+…. (Where 1 is the initial forcing, the second term is the amplifying feedback to that forcing, the third term is the amplifying feedback to the first amplifying feedback, etc.) Does the sum of an infinite such series approach infinity, or is it bounded and by what whole number?

        Your point “Is it possible that CO2 alone could cause the warming?” is a strawman argument, since no one is so asserting.

        Your point “Have the positive feedbacks been proven? No,” is flat out wrong:
        – Absolute humidity has in fact increased by ~4% in response to the measured warming, thus boosting the water vapour portion of the greenhouse effect, as predicted. (Water vapour feedback)
        – Both summer sea and land ice are decreasing in area in response to the measured warming, meaning less incoming sunlight is being reflected back out towards space during the summer, as predicted. (Albedo feedback)
        – Permafrost and polar bogs are thawing to deeper depths each summer, releasing more naturally sequestered CO2 and methane than they did in past summers, as predicted. (Natural greenhouse gas feedback)

        Tamino rightly nailed you for injecting your political argument into what should be a scientific matter, but I’ll add that physics doesn’t give a hoot what anyone’s political ideology is, it just does what it does. You’re simply barking up the wrong tree. On the wrong site.

    • As Alexandre has already pointed you to some optimal resources to overcome your deeply flawed position and thinking, let me just say this:

      I am a Republican, conservative Christian who has cut down more than a few trees (via axe and chainsaw) in my time. But true conservatism means also acting as a good steward over the resources we have been blessed with. It does Not mean continuing to run around in a state of perpetual ignorance to the changing world around us, changing due to what we as a species have caused. The evidence is overwhelming, should you care to cease with the ostrich routine and actually look for yourself.

      “So before you start calling all of us idiot deniers and crack pots you may want to consider yourself first.”

      By your very words you condemn yourself. “So let it be written…”

    • Eric: Have the positive feedbacks been proven?

      BPL: Google “Clausius-Clapeyron relation” for an example.

    • Gavin's Pussycat

      Eric, tamino is perhaps a bit hard on you re: feedbacks and runaway, as in climatology the way feedbacks are considered is a bit funny compared to, e.g., electronics. It works like this: when you have a feedback factor of f, then any initial temperature increase dT0 (due to CO2, for instance, but could just as well be the ice albedo effect during an ice age) will be incremented by f*dT0. But then, there will be second-order feedback of f*(f*dT0), and a third-order f*(f*f*dT0), etc. We get a geometric series:

      dT = dT0*(1+f+f^2+f^3+…) = dT0/(1-f).

      From this you see that any f in between -1 and 1 will not cause a runaway.

      There have been situations in the geological past when f > 1: this happened, e.g., during “Snowball Earth” episodes in the precambrium when continental ice sheets extended to 45 degrees latitude. At that point, albedo feedback becomes so big that a runaway glaciation starts, covering the whole Earth in snow and ice. Then, som 30 Myrs later the reverse happens: as the atmosphere’s CO2 content slowly rises to very high values (due to volcanic emissions in the absence of erosion processes absorbing it), a runaway deglaciation starts. See .

      About water vapour, this is pretty much the seminal article:

      Click to access heldsode00.pdf

      For water vapour, f is somewhere around 50% (a little under in fact), producing a near-doubling of the original dT, from 1.1C to around 2C.

      Already Arrhenius, using data from Arizona (Langley) was well aware of the water vapour feedback and its approximate magnitude.

      (BTW if you think it would be a good thing if there were no WV feedback, think again. The reason it is as strongly positive as it is, is that relative humidity is approximately constant. This means that, for every degree temperature increase, the absolute amount of water vapour in the atmosphere goes up by 6%. If this were not so, then relative humidity would strongly decrease in a warming world. And remember that it is relative humidity that matters for almost everything that is really important: clouds and precipitation form at 100% relative humidity. Air in contact with the ocean surface will also approach 100% humidity. Also our subjective sense of air being dry or moist comes from relative humidity, as does the ease with which vegetation transpires.

      So, if indeed in a warming world, relative humidity would decrease, that would be serious, in fact much more serious than the temperature increase as such: both crops and the natural vegetation cover can cope a lot better with higher temperatures than with drought. And also, consider that cloud cover would probably diminish in a drier atmosphere, resulting in a positive cloud feedback. Be careful what you wish for.)

      I plead guilty to being on the left(-ish) side of the political spectrum. So feel free to ignore me :-)

      • Gavin's Pussycat

        > From this you see that any f in between -1 and 1 will not cause a runaway

        Oops. Any f between -infinite and +1.

      • You were right the first time, no? The geometric series converges – and the second equality in your expression holds – only for f in (-1, 1).

      • Gavin's Pussycat

        Actually I don’t really know what would happen for a feedback less than -100%…

      • Gavin – a feedback <-1 would result in an amplifying oscillation – swinging negative, then to a larger positive, then to an even larger negative – an undamped oscillation, with the timing dependent on the lags of feedbacks.

        This kind of behavior can be found in poorly built electronic circuits – limited by the available power. It's not found in any stable situation in nature, as it would require infinite energy.

  31. I get pissed when I face dumb bureaucracy and regulations that get in the way of my job.

    Helps to remember that “dumb bureaucracy and regulations” are usually the result of statistical perspectives of poor personal choices; suggestions for regulation are unwittingly made by individual people making decisions leading to bad outcomes that become visible when enough other people are also making the same mistakes..

    Question: “Why should I =have= to put a reverse warning horn on my loader? Why should dumb bureaucrats regulate my loader?”

    Answer: “Because we want to reduce the number of people being crushed by loaders each year and we know we’re not perfect.”

    AGW is visible thanks to statistics. Refusal to acknowledge these statistics because of discomfort with “dumb bureaucracy and regulations” is a key reason why WUWT exists.

  32. metzomagic

    AGW is visible thanks to statistics. Refusal to acknowledge these statistics because of discomfort with “dumb bureaucracy and regulations” is a key reason why WUWT exists.


  33. Eric, others have pointed out that a system with positive feedback need not be unstable. I would point out that it is a straw man to simply posit that the climate system has no negative feedbacks–thermal radiation is the largest. You have seen this in action–it is the radiation you see when you heat up an iron bar in a forge until it glows red. Now, Earth is not glowing red hot, but it is glowing brightly in the infrared–that is the main way Earth loses energy. CO2 and other greenhouse gasses take a chunk out of that outgoing radiation before it can escape. We know this is happening–we can see in Earth’s outgoing IR specrum.

    We also know that there is positive feedback in the system–if there weren’t, greenhouse gasses would not be able to warm Earth a full 33 degrees beyond what we’d expect a planet at Earth’s distance from the sun to be with no atmosphere.

    So, I would ask you to consider this. You say you have been following climate science–or at least the climate debate–for 7 years, and in all that time, your sources never managed to give you an accurate picture of climate science. Why do you suppose that is? Do you suppose they themselves don’t understand it? Do you suppose that it is in their interests for you not to understand it.

    Eric, I can tell you aren’t an idiot. If you’d spent 7 years reading Realclimate and this blog, I guarantee you that would have at least a basic understanding of the science. So in my mind, the choice is yours. You can either try to learn what it is that you oppose, or you can continue to make your decisions based on ignorance.

    Oh, and full disclosure, I vote Democrat–mainly because I cannot bring myself to vote for a party that has rejected reality and science.

  34. Richard Simons


    Is this increase in temperature due to the release of CO2? Maybe some, not proven. Is it possible that CO2 alone could cause the warming? No, it would have to be supported with positive feedbacks. Have the positive feedbacks been proven? No. and they really don’t make any sense as any increase in temperature from any forcing would cause a positive net feedback and this would continue till the earth was cooked.

    Why are you so certain of these ‘facts’ if, as you write, you are ‘not a scientist, [who] couldn’t hold a decent climate debate with any body who is.’? Your source of information is misleading you. As suggested, check out ‘Skeptical Science’ or RealClimate to find out what climatologists are actually finding.

  35. I am not going to answer all the replies but I find the presumptions and arrogance amusing.

    [Response: You are the one who claimed that feedback has to “cook” the earth. We didn’t presume that you’re ignorant — you proved it.]

    [edit irrelevant ad hominem attacks]

    About feedbacks, re-reading my post I wasn’t very clear.

    [Response: Bullshit. You were perfectly clear. Now that you’ve been embarrassed by showing such astounding ignorance, you’ll claim that you weren’t “clear” when the truth is you just weren’t right.]

    My point was that the observed temperature rise cannot be CO2 alone, (no straw man here) that it would require a net positive feedback induced by the CO2 forcing to produce this warming. This has not been proven, although I am sure a bunch of you are going to try! And Alexandre, you made my point about positive feedbacks, there has to be negative as well or it causes a runaway condition.

    [Response: Water-vapor feedback is already proven. Ice-albedo feedback is already proven. As you continue to deny that, you continue to prove your ignorance.]

    Tamino, you are an example of what is wrong with this debate. You can call me a sucker and an ignoramus all you want, I really don’t care. In five or ten years if the observed temperature rises another degree you will be justified. (I wouldn’t hold my breath).

    [Response: Who claimed a whole degree in 5 or 10 years? Is this more ignorance, or are you just setting up a straw man to knock down?]

    And by all means, the speculation about global warming and the economy is complete garbage and really shows your political bias.

    [Response: Crop failures, water shortages, power shortages, natural disasters, sea level rise … how could they possibly affect the economy?]

    The first step to removing bias from your decision making is to realize that you have one.

    [Response: Once again you accuse us (me) of injecting politics into the debate because YOU injected politics into the debate. That’s not ignorance — it’s dishonesty. Go back to WUWT where you belong.]

    • Eric,

      You asked a question, and people have answered you and pointed you to references for further information. Still, you’re stuck in the same original fallacy, without ellaborating your disagreement and giving far more attention to the political/personal bits.

      Up there you complained that you can’t seem to achieve a “a decent climate debate” with anyone. It looks like there’s a reason for that.

    • And here I had hoped that Eric was nothing more than a drive-by attention troll, content with a 1-off. And then he shows up again to prove himself the living embodiment of the maxim:

      “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool…

      …than to speak up and remove all doubt”

      Doubt gone.

    • Well, Eric, it appears you have chosen ignorance. Please drop in again and tell us whether in fact ignorance really is bliss. Have a nice, irrelevant life.

    • While poor Eric was the subject of some condescending and insulting statements that were in my opinion unmerited by his first comment (then you’d need a thick skin to come here as he did), he hasn’t as yet demonstrated any open-mindedness here that I can see.
      And while he treats the subject like some Agatha Christy whodunnit, it is unlikely that he ever will.
      “Ah, but Inspector Jap, my little grey cells tell me it could not have been Mr Seeowtoo who shot dead the human race because, if you remember, the only weapon available to Mr Seeowtoo was the FeedBack+ rifle. And that weapon, you will recall, can use only one calibre of ammunition, a calibre that has never yet been manufactured.”

    • TrueSceptic

      I find the presumptions and arrogance amusing.

      Actually, I find it insulting, not amusing, that someone who says

      I am not a scientist, I couldn’t hold a decent climate debate with any body who is.

      makes presumptions and is so arrogant that he’s unable to recognise his own ignorance and make any effort to correct that ignorance. That makes you a denier, not a sceptic, and also an example of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

    • True Sceptic’s beaten me to it, but nevertheless…

      The Dunning-Kruger effect is strong in this one…

  36. Have the positive feedbacks been proven? No. and they really don’t make any sense as any increase in temperature from any forcing would cause a positive net feedback and this would continue till the earth was cooked.

    I’ve been thinking about turbochargers as a good way of explaining feedbacks for some time now, because (a) it seems so many apparently intelligent people have such wrong ideas like the one expressed above, and (b) turbos are an everyday experience for many people.

    What’s a turbo? Essentially, a fan that is spun by exhaust gasses that is connected to another fan that compresses incoming air. Compressing the incoming air allows more fuel to be injected (because the constraint on the maximum amount of fuel that can be injected is the amount of air that can be simultaneously drawn into the cylinder in order to maintain the ideal fuel:air ratio and maximum efficiency) and therefore more power to be developed at a given engine capacity.

    Turbos are a perfect example of a positive feedback — you press the accelerator, which increases the volume of fuel+air, which increases the exhaust pressure, which spins the turbo faster, which forces more air in, which allows more fuel to be injected, which increases the exhaust pressure, and so on, with the ultimate outcome that the maximum power output of the engine is higher than it otherwise would have been — not that the power output continues to increase until the engine is cooked!

    The boost that the turbo delivers, and the impact that has on how easy the vehicle is to drive at a fixed speed, is also relevant. A high-powered car running very high boosts can be a real pig to drive because the slightest adjustment of the accelerator either brings the turbo to life, pushing you way past the desired speed, or causes it to cut out entirely, causing you to slow down too much. (cf. climate sensitivity.)

    The lag between the initial accelerator movement and the sudden increase in acceleration once the turbo has spun up to maximum output is also a familiar experience, and is no different to the multiple lags of the various positive feedbacks in the climate (water vapor feedback relatively quick, albedo feedback much slower, etc.). A large turbo that takes a long time to spool up also makes it harder to control the speed accurately. (cf. difficulty trying to get action taken on climate change because we’re not “speeding” yet…)

    I would also like to point out that of course there are negative feedbacks, including one very important one. In the case of a car, there’s wind resistance, rolling resistance, and internal friction of the motor, that make it harder and harder to go that little bit faster. In the case of the climate, there’s the Stefan-Botzmann law that requires more and more energy just to go that little bit hotter. Nobody has forgotten those. The point of discussing the positive feedbacks is so that we can accurately determine the final outcome of a given rise in CO2. Stefan-Boltzmann is of course also part of that calculation. Just because there’s no runaway anticipated doesn’t mean it won’t be very bad. There’s a long way short of “cooked” that still isn’t pleasant.

  37. I’m always perplexed by individuals such as Eric. Why do such people feel so compelled to make drive-by declarations of their own ignorance (“I am not a scientist….”), and then proceed to demonstrate that ignorance with such strident certainty? Most perplexing is their willful refusal to learn when shown the error of their assertions, and instead just assert them again.

  38. Richard Simons


    And Alexandre, you made my point about positive feedbacks, there has to be negative as well or it causes a runaway condition.

    Why do you persist in making this claim? Suppose a one degree increase in temperature results in sufficient extra water evaporating and being held in the atmosphere to increase the temperature by a further half degree. This results in more water vapour in the atmosphere, enough to increase the temperature by 1/4 degree, and so on. The outcome is a doubling of the original temperature increase. There has been positive feedback with no runaway effect and no need for negative feedback processes. If the response is positive and less than the original signal, this will always be the case.

    And by all means, the speculation about global warming and the economy is complete garbage

    How can you possibly claim that it is garbage when you have freely admitted that you know little about climate science and your own comments have revealed you have minimal understanding? On what basis do you feel that your views are more likely to be correct than those of essentially all people who have spent decades studying the subject? Are you equally convinced that you could match any professional athlete in their chosen sport? After all, they have devoted much less time to gaining expertise than have most climatologists.

    You show no signs of having read any of the suggested links. If you are unable to bring yourself to do this, but prefer clinging to the so-called ‘skeptical’ sites, then at least read them skeptically. Check everything they write as some are notorious for lying. Are they correctly quoting their sources (including context)? Are the sources themselves correct? Wherever possible, go back to the original data. Virtually every time on ‘skeptical’ sites the trail either peters out or there has been an error or misrepresentation made.

    • I think that Eric would benefit from understanding what is meant not only by “feedback” (if, indeed, he understands that), but by “gain”, “greater than 1”, “less than1”, “attenuation”, and several other pertinent concepts.

      Otherwise all Eric is doing is showing what happens when one engages one’s mouth before ensuring one’s brain is in gear…

  39. Eric, I’ll congratulate you for stopping by but there’s more to it than that. There are lots of science based resources out there as several people have pointed out. As Tamino pointed out there are definite links between changes in the climate and the economy. A recent source of info on this is the recent (March 2012) IPCC report on extreme weather events ( for the summary version. I’ve tended to focus on this because it’s most relevant for my work, but it gives you a good idea of the range of impacts that we are seeing and can expect more of with a changing climate. I think many of the contributors here and at Real Climate are perfectly willing to have a “decent climate debate”, but if you can’t base this “debate” on actual science, don’t waste our time. As an alternative maybe you can find some legislators to repeal the laws of physics:

  40. Just to prove that those climate scientists are up to no good, consider the fact that their list of feed-backs invariably excludes a very important and obvious one:

    Polar bear feedback
    Polar-bear albedo, nearly 1,
    Helps reflect the arctic sun
    Keeps the arctic warming down
    Even when the ice is gone.

    Dead, bloated polar bears are particularly feedbacky.

  41. Fielding Mellish

    Well, Mr. Eric, it appears you’ve wandered into the advanced science class. Do you have the moral fibre and mental ability to take advantage of this teachable moment? Or, did you haul your preconceptions and confirmation bias in here merely to say “Yo mama” on your way to a snooze in Mr. Hand’s U.S. History class? If you ask serious questions here, you will learn the state of the climate science; if you try to tell us that 2+2 = 3, you will be rebuked. THAT appears to be “the way these blogs work.”

  42. Maybe it’s just an initiation rite to prove their cred at WTFUWT?

    • Whatever the mission it was pretty horrific to witness. Reminds me of that scene in a nature program where dozens of seemingly harmless turtles overwhelm an incautious egret and drag it below the surface.

    • Ah, but db, these are zombie egrets that keep rising up as the undead.

  43. I could kind of understand the general skepticism at WUWT regarding claims that the technological advances of modern society are going to cause serious harm. But then there’s this :

    … and all skepticism is out the window.

  44. Yes, Tony has gotten a lot shriller lately. Wonder why

    • Rattus Norvegicus

      Heartland probably told him that they couldn’t raise the funds for the second half of his grant….

  45. This item from TP is perfectly suited for this thread:

    Virginia Lawmaker Says ‘Sea Level Rise’ Is A ‘Left Wing Term,’ Excises It From State Report On Coastal Flooding

    The gift to Heartland is the gift that keeps on giving, even after the heart stops.

    • Maybe we should call it “circumglobal saltwater mass enhancement” to avoid embarrassment in these days when physical fact are subject to political approval.

      Or maybe we could call it just CSWME to avoid comprehension altogether…

      • The officially approved term is “recurrent flooding.”

        Presumably when an acre of land has vanished for good it’ll be deemed lost to “chronic flooding.”

  46. Someone gave me this today in a comment stream: “As I always say ‘I don’t know if global warming is real, but one thing I do know, nobody else knows either.'” I had to check the site header to make sure I hadn’t accidentally wandered over to Tony’s comment sewer.

    It’s a nice way to convince oneself that no one is smarter. The apotheosis of Homer Simpson.

  47. Eric,
    Positive feedbacks don’t run away and cook the Earth because radiation into space is extremely non-linear. A small increase in temperature cause by a positive feedback results in a large amount of radiation going into space. This halts the feedback from “running away”.

    For a “black body” (perfect radiator), the radiation into space increases with Temp*Temp*Temp*Temp, or temperature to the fourth power. (E.g. 1% increase in temperature = 4% increase in radiation to space. 10% temp increase–> 46% radiation increase.) Earth is not a black body (not least because greenhouse gases block some radiation from escaping), but it’s still very non-linear and the magnitude of the positive feedback change is less than that of the radiation change.

    So for example, CO2 increases global temperature, which raises humidity (water vapor- a greenhouse gas) which increases temperature still further, which raises humidity even more, but the more rapid increase of radiation into space with temperature halts the water vapor feedback.

  48. Eric,
    Another factor is that greenhouse gases like water vapor have to double in concentration again and again to get the same number of degrees increase in temperature, and this non-linearity also limits the positive feedback from running away, because as you increase the temperature the increase in water vapor is less than the doubling you would need to sustain a runaway..