Arctic collapse dramatically increases global warming?

ccgg.BRW.ch4.1.none.discrete.all Wosis then? Is it the sea ice? Ah, no. Someone else wants in on the limelight: “Parts of Arctic Siberia are releasing ten times more carbon into the atmosphere than previously thought, a University of Manchester scientist and an international team of researchers have found.”

Its the usual stuff:

much more greenhouse gas is being released into the atmosphere than previously calculated, from and ancient an large carbon pool held in a permafrost along the 7,000 km desolate coast of northernmost Siberian Arctic – dramatically increasing global warming. As the temperature climbs carbon, stored in vast ice walls along this Arctic coast called Yedoma, covering about one million km2 (four times the area of the UK), is pouring into the Arctic Ocean in one of the world’s most remote and desolate regions. This region is experiencing twice the global average of climate warming. While satellite images reveal thousands of kilometers of milky-cloudy waters along the Arctic coast, suggesting a massive influx of material, the Yedoma has remained understudied largely due to the region’s inaccessibility. By studying the thaw-eroding slopes of a disappearing island, the team found that the tens-of-thousands year old coastal Yedoma carbon is rapidly converted to CO2 and methane, even before being washed into the sea

and so on. It is honest enough to say quietly that the present rate of carbon release from the NE Siberian coast is not substantially affecting the CO2 levels in the global atmosphere yet – but then how can you possibly reconcile that with the headline? Or indeed the following text the scale of the release of both CO2 and methane into the atmosphere will have a huge effect. This will have consequences for the temperatures all over the world. There are various nutters pushing the “methane emergency” line. And although that in itself doesn’t discredit more serious people, the serious people need to talk sense and not just grab headlines, if they want to be taken seriously.

None of which says anything about the quality of the science, which sits quietly paywalled by Nurture. Its quite likely a valuable, if minor, contribution to our knowledge of carbon fluxes in the Arctic. It just doesn’t deserve the headlines it is offering.

And speaking of, errm, overenthusiasm, don’t get me started on Wadhams The entire ice cover is now on the point of collapse… It is truly the case that it will be all gone by 2015. No, it won’t be.

mt on Pierrehumbert on Paul Ryan on global warming

mt quotes Ray Pierrehumbert: “The most explicit statement of Ryan’s climate change views appears in this 2009 op-ed, and since he still features it on his official website, we can take it as an indication of his beliefs…” writing in Slate. Some of what Ryan writes is indeed std.denialist_lies:

The CRU e-mail scandal reveals a perversion of the scientific method, where data were manipulated to support a predetermined conclusion. The e-mail scandal has not only forced the resignation of a number of discredited scientists… rant, rant, rant…

which self-condemns Ryan as a fool. But… without trying to defend Ryan’s views, I’ll point out that he really has little or nothing to say about the actual science. Yes I know what slant you get from reading it; what I’m trying to point out is that he isn’t really addressing the science, because that isn’t what interests him. What does Ryan say? Things like “leaders in Washington have failed to provide the American people a serious policy debate” which seems fair enough. Unfortunately Ryan isn’t exactly contributing either, indeed he is damaging the debate, because to have a meaningful debate on the policy consequences you have to start from accepting the science as presented, say, by the IPCC. And to be able to talk about Carbon Taxes without having teabaggers ejaculating over you (note: I said “talk about” not advocate).

Also, I think RayP’s bizniz-sense is weak:

Most of what Paul Ryan has written specifically about climate change is a corollary to his basic tenet of faith that everything done by the government is necessarily bad, and everything done by the private sector is necessarily good… He consistently ignores the manifold and arguably greater flubs of private investment. To pick one of the sillier examples, Google paid Paypal co-founder Max Levchin $200 million for a company that made things like electronic-pet apps for Facebook, but wrote off most of its investment a few years later.

This is about as sensible as saying “its snowing; GW can’t be true”. Which is precisely what he starts off criticising Ryan for saying. Motto: the tailor should stick to his last. I do, obviously.

Other stuff

* Climate Moving at One Foot Per Hour – QS

Sea ice but mostly other stuff

Plenty of other people are talking about seaice, so I don’t need to. Monthly means are more interesting the dailies, and since August is unlikely to beat September, we’re unlikely to see a record monthly mean for a month yet. The bets are summarised here and in this, to which the former refers.

I was a bit sad that the blog formerly known, rather gawkily, as “Anti-Climate Change Extremism in Utah” is now “Climate Asylum”.

mt is sad that The Way Scientists Try to Convince People Is Hopeless: “they present evidence, figures, tables, arguments, and so on. But that’s not how to convince people. People aren’t convinced by arguments. They don’t believe conclusions because they believe in the arguments that they read in favour of them. They’re convinced because they read or hear the conclusions coming from people they trust.” This is certainly true for Joe Public, and how could it be otherwise? [Actually its only partly true, because it omits the obvious, that JP type people will only believe arguments that fit in with their preconceptions.] JP is never going to check the science of GW for himself. He’s going to pick it up from… friends, the paper, the TV, his mate’s dog down the pub, whatever. But that in itself is OK, because the dog down the pub is a bit cleverer, and knows enough to trust his national academy of science, which knows enough to read and verify the science itself.

Related, Nurture has an article about “Why we are poles apart on climate change”. Apparently “The problem isn’t the public’s reasoning capacity; it’s the polluted science-communication environment that drives people apart”. And yet reading the examples seems to show many examples of irrationality: “Present them with a PhD scientist who is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, for example, and they will disagree on whether he really is an ‘expert’, depending on whether his view matches the dominant view of their cultural group… The positions on climate change of both groups track their impressions of recent weather…”. But it then turns out that all Nurture is doing is redefining rationality: “social science suggests that citizens are culturally polarized because they are, in fact, too rational — at filtering out information that would drive a wedge between themselves and their peers.” Sigh.

A while back, I found at least one reason Why Watts’s new paper is doomed to fail review. Since then, I’ve been pretending to myself that eventually I’ll read the thing and find the other fatal flaws for myself. But I think its time to admit that life is too short and the paper is too boring. Elsewhere, mt points out that Watts has given up even trying to make sense. If you want to see it ripped up, Blog review of the Watts et al. (2012) manuscript on surface temperature trends and refs therein will do. And you might find A short introduction to the time of observation bias and its correction interesting. Fairly soon I expect to decide not to bother read BEST either. Update: Eli taking the piss out of Watts over the notorious “Antarctic UHI” is fun.

Book of the New Sun

aldrin Gene Wolfe, Book of the New Sun:

The picture he was cleaning showed an armored figure standing in a desolate landscape. It had no weapon, but held a staff bearing a strange, stiff banner. The visor of this figure’s helmet was entirely of gold, without eye slits or ventilation; in its polished surface the deathly desert could be seen in reflection, and nothing more.

(I remembered this roughly, but the exact text is from here. The picture I nicked and cropped doesn’t match this description; I don’t know if there is one that does).

Ultimately, the Apollo programme was rather pointless, a dead end. It must have required great courage to trust in the lunar lander and return system. And the entire thing was of great grandeur, yes, and inspiring to many of course, and produced some unforgettable images. And text. But the sane consequent was robot exploration, and even that (e.g. Curiosity) lacks vision in a way (“What shall we do next?” “Oh, I dunno, how about we just dump something bigger down on Mars?” “I suppose it’ll have to do”). The path forwards must be making it self-sustaining, which I think points towards comet or asteroid mining or the like.

[Update: might be the image that Wolfe had in mind, though it is too cluttered -W]

Thomas Hobbes: Fascist Exponent of Enlightement Science?

Yes really, complete with miss-spelling of “enlightenment”. Don’t stop reading just because its about Hobbes, though :-). Its really about the LaRouche nutters, I think (the connection is via the Schiller Institute). My source is Brian Lantz, from the Spring 1996 issue of FIDELIO Magazine, found in the course of trying to work out the relationship between Hobbes and Francis Bacon (was he a pupil of, or just secretary to?). But moving on from that, we have a cornucopia of delights including

Over the past century, for geopolitical purposes, the British oligarchy has orchestrated a true Hobbesian “war of each against all,” bringing about two world wars and innumerable regional conflicts including, most recently, the horrors of Cambodia, Somalia, Rwanda, and Bosnia


Like his homosexual lover Francis Bacon and fellow British empiricist John Locke, Thomas Hobbes was deployed by the then Venice-centered oligarchy against the ideas of the Golden Renaissance, which had been set in motion under the influence of Nicolaus of Cusa at the 1439 Council of Florence.

After pausing, briefly, to note that the article does state that Kissinger was correct in identifying the axiomatics of British foreign policy as “Hobbesian,” which is in its favour. But mistaken; the most Hobbesian foreign policy is clearly that of the USA); I ought to note some oddities about the circle-squaring stuff:

For example, Cusa discovered why it was impossible to “square the circle” through algebraic methods, thereby discovering what we know today as the transcendental numbers. Why? Because a linear approximation of curvature is never curvature; circular action is not reducible to straight-line action.

This isn’t true; certainly the wiki article doesn’t mention him; and indeed the task wasn’t proved impossible until 1882. The reference to “algebraic methods” is odd, too: Cusa would have been concerned with geometrical ones. But this does touch on Hobbes, who was also interested in squaring the circle. Unfortunately he decided that he had managed to prove this, which was a futile waste of time as well as prestige. Ah well, a warning that however eminent you are in one field, that doesn’t necessarily transfer across; and that learning maths by yourself is Hard.

But enough from the article: doubtless everyone will find their own favoured bit of nonsense in there. I’ve now heavily hacked the [[Nicholas of Cusa]] article. Here is a before-and-after difference and here is the old version. I am (obviously) no expert in this area, so if anyone out there reading this is, please comment here or edit there.

[Update: How Not to Square the Circle by Tony Phillips provides some interesting detail on N of C’s circle-squaring activities. If you believe that, then the LaRouche nonsense I started from gets it totally wrong: N was actually trying to square the circle and failing, not trying to prove it impossible (and failing). That article also points to an interesting parallel between Hobbes and N: both were attracted to the rigour of maths, both were amateurs, and both tried to use it to prove philosophical points (unsuccessfully, of course).

However, it gets worse, because the LaRouchies provide On the Quadrature of the Circle, 1450, Nicolaus of Cusa which (perhaps unwisely) I’ll trust them to have reproduced accurately. That appears to be internally contradictory to me; perhaps the attempt to translate from the language of 1450 to present day has proved too hard. This may provide some further clues; or perhaps N was muddled himself.]

More weird sea ice stuff

2012-08-16-Sea_Ice_Extent_prev People want to talk about sea ice, clearly. I still have nothing interesting to say about it, so instead, lets start off at KK‘s, who parrots the odd assertion that there are “Plenty of stories in media with just one scientist, and no counter view at all“. Which in turn is some septic whinging that he doesn’t have a clue about sea ice.

Ben Pile is so clueless that he thinks that, when “Laxon referred to measurements taken ‘this decade’”, he “presumed to mean since 2010”. Pile, in turn, is parroting Orlowski in the reliably unreliable El Rego, which says Listeners to Radio 4’s Today programme – and this includes much of the political elite – will have been alarmed to be told that “the Arctic could be ice-free on a summer’s day by the end of the decade”. Yet the evidence for this “trend” turns out to be drawn from less than two years worth of data.. El Rego knows this isn’t true – they know they’re bare-faced lying – and yet the story is still there, unmodified. And we know they know this because Laxon told them so in a comment to which the witless Orlowski replied.

As you’d expect, what Laxon meant was “the trends are derived by combining CryoSat-2 volume estimates with earlier (2003-2008) volume estimates from NASA’s ICESat mission [Kwok, JGR, 2009].” (He also says that if you “listen to my Today interview (” he even says so, which makes Pile / Orlowski even more clueless if so).

But why is Kloor pushing these idiots? The answer to KK’s original “What to Do About the “Polluted” Climate Discourse?” is, at least in part, stop listening to idiots and stop promoting them as reasonable sources.


* More junk from Pile: another article where he, presumably deliberately, misrepresents the state of “prediction” os future sea ice: “As I discussed in the article, according to ‘scientists’, the Arctic would be ice-free next year.”

When will it start cooling?

WUWT is still on my google reader list, even though I got banned from commenting for pointing out AW’s wiki-fantasies. So I get to see the rather plaintive When will it start cooling?, in which David Archibald, Solar Nut, wonders why his brilliant predictions don’t seem to match reality. But, I hear you ask, what are his brilliant predictions? [And to those who want to talk about sea ice, hang on a bit, and to those waiting with baited breath for my review of Watts, Muller et al.: have patience.]

My papers and those of Jan-Erik Solheim et al predict a significant cooling over Solar Cycle 24 relative to Solar Cycle 23. Solheim’s model predicts that Solar Cycle 24, for the northern hemisphere, will be 0.9º C cooler than Solar Cycle 23

so it sounds like DA can’t even make up his own fantasies, but is borrowing JES’s. Before you get to the “predictions” you have to wade through a pile of graphs which he waves around to hide the paucity of his thought. [[Solar cycle 23]] seems to have ended in 2008, so we’re already 3.5 years into cycle 24, and its not really looking cool yet. So for 24 to average cooler than 23, especially by as much as 0.9 oC, you need to start getting pretty creative. But fear not, because the wackos are nothing if not creative, so DA manages to convince himself that cycle 24 will be 17 years long, thereby requiring “only” that the decline from mid-2013 will be 1.2º C on average over the then remaining twelve and a half years of the cycle. This will of course not happen (anybody wanna bet?) but I’m sure they will come up with an excellent reason why not. Perhaps some mysterious atmospheric constituent will be found to have a confounding warming effect? Or they could just discover variability, but that kind of complexity seems to be beyond them.


* Webcite

UN urges US to cut ethanol production

Says the FT:

The UN has called for an immediate suspension of government-mandated US ethanol production, adding to pressure on Barack Obama to address the food-versus-fuel debate in the run-up to presidential elections. Most US ethanol is made from corn. The dispute over ethanol promotion pits states such as Iowa that benefit from higher corn prices – and in some cases are swing states in the election – against livestock-raising states such as Texas that are helped by lower corn prices. The UN intervention will be seized upon by state governors, lawmakers and the meat and livestock industry, who have expressed alarm at surging prices for corn. Members of the Group of 20 leading economies – including France, India and China – have already expressed concern about the US ethanol policy. The US is poised to divert around 40 per cent of its corn into ethanol because of the Congress-enacted mandate despite “huge damage” to the crop because of the worst drought in at least half a century, José Graziano da Silva, director-general of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, warned.

The biofuels stuff has always been dubious or stupid, though you can make a case that the Brazilian version is worthwhile. The US corn-ethanol programme is and always has been insane (when looked at from a fuel perspective, or a food perspective, or a value-for-money perspective, or any sane perspective) or pork (when looked at from a political perspective). But there is now a whole subsidy-sucking industry built around this pork, so don’t expect it to die without squeals. In fact its probably powerful enough not to die at all.


* Latest Drought Science Alarming for US – EW.
* Heatwaves blamed on global warming – Nature, on Hansen.
* Atmospheric CO2 forces abrupt vegetation shifts locally, but not globally

Hobbes on climate change

Via HT I find Kerry Emanuel saying:

I think debate is good but we should be debating points that are actually debatable

and who could disagree with that? But the problem is who gets to say what is debatable. You and I know, of course. But the wackoes don’t [What is the Plural of “wacko”? Is it -oes or -os? And what about “Bozoes” – that looks wrong]. Or rather, it is impossible to distinguish from outside their heads the difference between “this is debatable” and “I’m going to force you to debate this if I can, either because it plays well or in order to avoid debating real issues” (compare For if a man pretend to me that God hath spoken to him supernaturally, and immediately, and I make doubt of it, I cannot easily perceive what argument he can produce to oblige me to believe it).

The connection to Hobbes is that he argues, for example, that if you let someone “independent” interpret your laws, then that person or group is effectively sovereign; and therefore argues for all judges to be effectively the person of the sovereign, delegated (as I believe was the theory in England, but no more). With no-one wielding the civil sword to decide questions such as “what is debatable” there is no law in this area, no compact, and thus effectively a state of war. Which is exactly what we see.

[Updated: to include sea ice pic and link to Neven.]


* Calvin and

Olympic badminton rowing


The mighty DeutschlandAchter.


The NZ pair (gold) congratulating the UK pair (bronze). The UK were completely out of their lane over the finish line.

Or, if you’re interested in my original subject:

It am all de news: Olympics badminton: Four pairs charged with not trying.

My take on this is different: I’ve watched some of the sport (not the badminton, obviously, because it shouldn’t be an olympic sport any more than football should be) and its exciting: you’re watching people doing their very best to do as well as they possibly can. The rowing is gorgeous, especially the VIII’s: 2000m at 1:20 splits with every single stroke exactly the same as the previous one. Woo!

But the badminton story is that, suddenly, due to the pattern of who had won or lost, it became advantageous to some of the players to lose, not win their matches. At which point they… started to lose, not win, their matches. Which is exactly what they should be doing. Der.

The fault, obviously, lies with the idiots who designed the heats system that lead to these perverse incentives.

But enough of that nonsense! On with the rowing:


Bit of a shame for the Poles. They get something close to a row-over, and a head-wind so no real incentive to try extra-hard.


But on reflection, the headwind is great for crews in the lead… they aren’t going to get a record, so they don’t have to kill themselves, just win. And we see: the UK’s first olympic gold. Cycling disappoints, swimming disappoints, rowing comes through. As always 🙂


Your olympic news service continues… as expected (really, in our heart of hearts, we knew) the Germans win the men’s eights. But it was a thrilling race; we caught them up and were ahead at 1500m by a few feet, but they pushed out well ahead at the end. And perhaps because we’d pushed, Canada overtook us to the line. But it was worth it.


Men’s lightweight IV, Thursday. Superb race (item 13) with a wonderful push through by SA at the line.

That Drysdale digs a bit, eh?