Saturday, October 10, 2009
The rate at which the planet's climate is warming must accelerate in order to justify the huge burdens we would have to bear to reduce greenhouse gases as much as the activists demand, because the current rate of change is not enough to trigger catastrophe. The models do, in fact, predict just such an acceleration, apparently because they assume that small warming can lead to positive feedback loops that would drive large warming. So, for example, rising temperatures in the Arctic might release methane trapped in the permafrost, and since methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, new methane could increase the rate of warming considerably.
Problem is, the planet is not giving up its methane at anything like the rate the climate models predicted.
Makes you wonder what else the models have gotten wrong.
"What happened to global warming?"
That's the lede for a BBC story today. You can read it here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8299079.stm
This story is based on an another example of unfolding facts not fitting AGW theory.
The BBC is acknowledging that the science isn't settled. Whatever the science, the politics have never made sense to me.
Does Al Gore give back his Nobel?
"Makes you wonder what else the models have gotten wrong."
I think we have to wait and see. In the mean time, isn't it best to plan for trouble?
Accoring to your graph, the increase in concentration eased off for a few years and is now back on course. The graph certainly doesn't show the concentation going down.
Maybe we have a few more years in which to get nuclear fusion working.
We don't need nuclear fusion. We have nuclear fission right now. And so called "nuclear waste" is simply unburned fuel -- an asset, not a liability.
The fact that the global warming alarmists don't want to touch CO2-free nuclear fusion shows what their REAL agenda is.
Don, that's a ppm chart for METHANE...a true pollutant.
Bear in mind that we are "cap and trading" for CO2...a political pollutant that has trivial deleterious effect upon our ecosphere.
Why can't we use our resources to ADAPT to the slow change of climate rather than invoking financial armegeddon trying to CHANGE the Climate.
It's like watching a Greek Tragedy!
Some people like Watts have trouble realizing that predicting methane emissions is very different from a climatology model that determines what effect a given level of methane will have on the climate.
It's long been known that the greatest level of uncertainty in future climate change is from how high the emissions will be, not what the emissions will do. To the extent we do nothing, we'll have higher emissions and more problems.
For a more useful link, try this:
"Global methane levels on the rise again
After eight years of near-zero growth in atmospheric methane concentrations, levels have again started to rise.
“This is not good news for future global warming,” says CSIRO’s Dr Paul Fraser, who co-authored a paper to be published in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.
“Over recent years, the growth of important greenhouse gases, namely methane and the CFCs, had slowed.
"This tended to offset the increasing growth rate of carbon dioxide that results mainly from large increases in the consumption of fossil fuels, particularly in the developing world.
“Now that methane levels have resumed their growth, global warming may accelerate.”
Methane is the second most important greenhouse gas in the atmosphere after carbon dioxide, accounting for nearly 20pc of global warming since the industrial revolution.
Methane is emitted to the atmosphere from natural wetlands, rice fields, cattle, forest and grassland fires, coal mines, natural gas leakage and use, and other sources.
“Over the past decade these methane sources have been close to balancing the absorption of methane through atmospheric oxidation and into dry soil,” Dr Fraser says.
“This fragile balance has resulted in little growth of methane in the atmosphere.
"Apparently some sources have been increasing, such as from fossil fuel use, cattle, and rice, while others have been decreasing, particularly natural tropical wetlands.
"However, over the past year, the total sources have overwhelmed the total sinks, and methane has again started to rise.”"
This tended to offset the increasing growth rate of carbon dioxide that results mainly from large increases in the consumption of fossil fuels, particularly in the developing world.
That's an understatement, since the warming part is AWOL.....
And one more:
"According to one of the authors of the Nature paper, Dr Paul Steele from CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, prolonged drying of wetlands -- caused by draining and climate change -- has resulted in a reduction in the amount of methane released by wetlands, masking the rise in emissions from human activities.
"Had it not been for this reduction in methane emissions from wetlands, atmospheric levels of methane would most likely have continued rising," he says.
"This suggests that, if the drying trend is reversed and emissions from wetlands return to normal, atmospheric methane levels may increase again, worsening the problem of climate change.""
That was from 2006, and the trend seems to have resumed.
Questions for Brian,
Would you support the USA building a lot more nukes real fast. If not, why not?
Do you agree that the Energy bill adopted by the House is an abomination. That it won't cut emissions and will likely only increase emissions as we export jobs to dirtier places?
Do you get paid by the post or by the word?
The LESS warming we see, the more tortured and lengthy the retorts become.
Fortunately, the cooler it gets, the less credible they become...and I won't have to enlarge my "carbon footprint" by going to a dozen websites.
The sad thing is...were it not for environmental extremeism, we would already HAVE energy independence AND be well on the way to developing technologies that would guarantee safe nuclear power...which is the patently obvious solution to ALL of this whining.
But...no...lets not due that...especially when the REAL reason for all this is the redistribution of wealth and the guarantee of political power for a priveledged few.
"We don't need nuclear fusion. We have nuclear fission right now. "
Fusion based on Boron-11 has the big advantage of producing hardly any radioactive waste. But I agree that the US should be building fission plants right now. The French are in a strong position because they have plenty of nuclear power.
I'm not so sure about Iran building them.
"The fact that the global warming alarmists don't want to touch CO2-free nuclear FISSION shows what their REAL agenda is."
I think their real agenda is a mixture of puritanism and a kind of William Morris-style back-to-the-Middle-Ages.
But warming is a real practical problem. The cost of dealing with a hundred-foot rise in sea levels in Manhattan alone would be enormous - replacing fossil fuels with a mixture of nuclear, solar and wind power would cost less, I think.
"But warming is a real practical problem"
We are still debating the Extent of the warming and why it is there.
While we debate, we propose draconian measures to "reverse" the warming trend that MAY OR MAY NOT be reversible by those draconian measures.
A little less hysteria and a lot more analysis would be nice.
If Obama and the Congress studied the AGW problem with even HALF of the intensity that they are studying whether to send reinforcements to our troops under attack abroad....that would satisfy me a little bit.
Oh...I forget...The science is "settled".
Sure it is...
In physics, string theory has been in vogue for decades but is being increasingly criticized as not being scientific as it's so difficult to validate by experiment. The critics include Nobel laureates. Major universities aren't hiring new hot shot string theorists like they once were. It's not that string theory is necessarily wrong, but if you can't run experiments the theorists might just as well be writing poetry.
AGW theory should be assessed with the same rigor. It's difficult to test AGW by experiment, especially in a relatively short timeframe. That doesn't mean it's wrong. But it's not a helpful fact that our recent climate doesn't match what models would predict.
AGW theory also doesn't explain the significant climate changes we've had over the last 50,000 years. If man weren't around we know we could have significant climate change in a very short timeframe, as it just happened. Thus, we know that man isn't the only factor in this. What are the other factors? If we don't understand these other factors we don't even have a worthwhile theory.
One factor could be variations in the sun's energy output, with our oceans serving as a big energy sink -- but the AGW theorists haven't even bothered to assess this. For crissakes, the 100 watt light bulb in my office will give a measurable effect on the temperature of the glass of water on my desk.
FWIW, I'm mildly skeptical of nuclear fission, although I don't think the long-term nuclear waste is an important issue. It's a very expensive form of energy, may be vulnerable to terrorism, and if promoted worldwide could increase the problem of nuclear proliferation.
I would oppose shutting down existing plants though, and if utilities think they can make it work in new plants, I wouldn't fight them.
I think fission plants will play a minor role. but still a role, in dealing with a problem that will require a thousand solutions.
You will find a lot of people like me who are concerned about AGW and are open to nuclear power, some of them a lot more optimistic about it than I am.
Nuclear plants are expensive to build, cheap to run. Today they're still a lot cheaper than wind and solar, especially when you consider that wind and solar need back-up. Wind and solar are a pipedream.
Nukes could be much cheaper to build, if we eliminated the risk of construction delays from lawsuit and illegal protest.
Nukes worked for the French, why not for us?
Obama has effectively killed nukes for the forseeable future. We're a mideast oil shock away from disaster.
"The sad thing is...were it not for environmental extremeism, we would already HAVE energy independence AND be well on the way to developing technologies that would guarantee safe nuclear power..."
sad, but true
Many of the leaders of the environmental movement are driven by socialism or at least a desire for social "change". That is why they won't support prohibitions on illgal immigration despite it's negative effects on the environment.
All forms of power generation are suseptible to terrorism-- if not at the generation source, then at the dispersal stations. (Ever seen those big power stations in the middle of Oregon? For that matter, the three or four huge powerline things leading out of them? Vulnerable the whole way down....)
Another tip-off that environmentalists don't want to solve anything is how hydroelectric keeps being classified as a non-renewable energy source. (Ain't gonna rain no more no more, it ain't gonna rain no more....)
"We are still debating the Extent of the warming and why it is there."
The obvious cause is the rise in greenhouse gases. There is a good correlation over the past 20 million years and sea levels. In the past, increases in greenhouse gases have been mainly caused by volcanic eruptions, but this time it is human activity.
See here for a summary of a recent paper in Science.
"One factor could be variations in the sun's energy output, "
No, that effect is too small. See here for discussion.
Reply to Don Cox,
If you're going to cite a source it ought to support your argument. Here's one sample from yours:
"On timescales that vary from millions of years through to the more familiar 11-year sunspot cycles, variations in the amount of solar energy reaching Earth have a huge influence on our atmosphere and climate. But the Sun is far from being the only player."
Your source says "huge influence" ... you say "too small."
We can quibble about this, but it's only one example. The headings on your source imply one thing, the actual text another. Climate scientists aren't close to a validated unified theory of climate change. That doesn't mean this isn't worth study, or that AGW isn't real ... but it's not proven. Not even close.
You have a theory that is already varying from our actual experience.
The new research does not imply that reaching CO2 levels this high would definitely result in huge sea level changes, or that these would happen quickly, Dr Tripati pointed out - just that sustaining such levels on a long timescale might produce such changes.
Even the guy pushing the study disagrees with your 'obvious' conclusion-- best he can say is it 'might' happen.
Correlation does not imply causation.
Given that the PPMs are still going up and the temperature is not, that's pretty good evidence that, at the very least, we need more evidence.
Got any evidence of sea-level rising currently?
Oh-- on a side note, I know that in salt water aquariums the ph is changed by more than the local CO2. Be interesting to see what assumptions they made to calculate the atmospheric CO2-- assuming they didn't destroy the evidence, anyways....
Science is supposed to be skeptical. It's part of the discipline. Isaac Newton spent more time being an alchemist than anything else. Given the state of knowledge at the time, and the financial payoff if he could turn lead into gold, he was only wasting his time in hindsight. I bet Newton fed his patrons a good line about his prospects in alchemy. Research scientists stumble around in the dark ... that's why they get paid the big bucks.
I see nothing scientific in the public discussion of AGW. There's a lot of speculation and conjecture. Scientists are trying to understand a highly complex multivariate system. Importantly, they have little ability to run a true experiment other than using Earth as the lab. A real experiment might take a thousand years.
I'm old enough to remember being told that the Earth was going to freeze over, if aerosol cans didn't kill us first. Chicken Little, anyone?
I just did some quick online research. Just google "what causes ice ages." Sure enough many scientists believe that changes in the earth's orbit vs the sun are the principal cause of ice age cycles that run 20,000 to 40,000 years. I did not know that, but am not surprised. In fairness, many factors may be in the mix including greenhouse gases. What's cause and what's effect isn't clear. It's worth noting that the amount of the sun's energy that the Earth gets is an exogenous factor. Sunspots could still have an affect on a shorter cycle.
There's an interesting graph here: http://www.socialtext.net/wired-mag/index.cgi?what_causes_ice_ages
Apparently, we're in a warm phase that started 20,000 years ago. During the last interglacial -- about 120,000 years ago it was much hotter than now. If you believe the trend line, we may have peaked and things will get colder.
The latest warming period is coincident with the rise of man. Maybe some global warming isn't so bad.
If climate change on this order has been happening with regularity why do we assume man is the cause? If there's been a natural cyclical ebb and flow, why are we convinced that models that assume unbridled positive feedback are correct?
I've always been troubled by the political decision to call CO2 a pollutant, when it's basic to life and it makes all of us guilty for being breathers.
"If climate change on this order has been happening with regularity why do we assume man is the cause?"
"I've always been troubled by the political decision to call CO2 a pollutant, when it's basic to life and it makes all of us guilty for being breathers."
It's original sin! That's going into the book...
Like so many other things, if you want to know why we are so obsessed with global warming...follow the money.
Haley's Comet didn't destroy the earth, neither did ozone depletion, neither did the Van Allen radiation belt, neither did overpopulation, neither did global cooling, neither did the millenium.
There will ALWAYS be a market for media induced hysteria. PT Barnum became wealthy on the basic knowledge of human nature.
The truly EVIL part of this latest "craze" is that governments and social engineers are trying to harness the power of the hysteria for their own benefit.
IF AGW doesn't work...they will shrug...and it will be something else in the next few years.