Re: [asa] FW: Temperature Monitors Report Widescale Global Cooling

From: Randy Isaac <randyisaac@comcast.net>
Date: Sun Mar 02 2008 - 09:45:01 EST

I think we're pretty well in agreement. I'm certainly not arguing that current climate models are precise. It's more an issue of what is the range of conclusions one can draw from these models, taking into account the current status of their reliability? It is not right, as the strident GW deniers would have it, to reject the core concept of GW. It is right to recognize that the models may have missed elements. As your note points out, it is also possible that the models have underestimated the impact of anthropogenic warming. It seems to me that both (1) and (2) are the correct answers and are not mutually exclusive.

Randy
  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Don Winterstein
  To: wdwllace@sympatico.ca
  Cc: asa
  Sent: Sunday, March 02, 2008 2:30 AM
  Subject: Re: [asa] FW: Temperature Monitors Report Widescale Global Cooling

  One more thing: I've been reading that the ice melt in the northern polar regions is substantially greater than models predict. If this is true, it means (1) we should therefore be more diligent than ever about curtailing GHG emissions or (2) there's something wrong with the models. Scientists should pick (2) every time.

  Don

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: Don Winterstein
    To: wdwllace@sympatico.ca
    Cc: asa
    Sent: Saturday, March 01, 2008 11:14 PM
    Subject: Re: [asa] FW: Temperature Monitors Report Widescale Global Cooling

    No climate model will predict the weather for any month. One monthly fluctuation says nothing about climate.

    Rich earlier explained the unusual weather not as a random fluctuation but a deviation due to a combination of a solar minimum with La Nina. Both of those phenomena have periods of many years in the one case and many months in the other, so presumably they would affect climate. Therefore, if the models can accommodate such phenomena--and they certainly should be able to--then they should have been able to predict January's temperature drop. (I could live with big error bars.) AND if said drop resulted from such phenomena, it's now strange that temperatures should have returned so soon to last year's values (see Rich's post of 2-29 @ 1:04 pm)! This sequence of events raises questions of its own.

    Skepticism of models is no longer an excuse for being a GW skeptic.

    I'm not a GW skeptic, but I continue to be a model skeptic. Evidence that temperatures have been rising is clear enough, and the dramatic effects in northern polar regions and glaciers around the world have been pretty obvious. I'd say it should also be fairly obvious that at least a significant part of the current atmospheric CO2 has come from the burning of fossil fuels. The only thing not obvious about this would be relative quantities.

    One question I have is whether the models may be overemphasizing the effects of this CO2. The 8-07 issue of Scientific American contains an article that presents a strong case that GW is anthropogenic, but its chart that shows relative radiative forcing has huge error bars on "Aerosols: effect on clouds," and "Aerosols: reflection of sunlight." So, OK, those are two known and possibly major sources of model error.

    Why I as a former Earth scientist am skeptical of ALL Earth science models is that our own modeling time and again turned up sources of error that we hadn't thought of or couldn't have known about ahead of time. I don't believe climate scientists fully understand Earth (I don't think anyone does), so I suspect their models have comparable deficiencies.

    We exploration geophysicists would never have known about the errors in our models without testing them, because we could often (in fact, almost always, if we worked at it) get beautiful fits to existing data. But despite beautiful fits we found by actual testing that our models were sometimes wrong--by actually drilling holes to see what was there. To my knowledge this kind of real-world, real-time testing is what's missing from the climatologists' models. I could perhaps start to believe their models if they would lay their reputations on the line by predicting significant things that everyone could monitor. Without successful tests I don't see how my skepticism of their models can diminish.

    ...Even if you are skeptical about anthropogenic causes of GW, ...many of the remediations in any
    sensible scheme are shared with reducing use of oil/energy and with reducing pollution in cities.

    There's at least a good chance that the gross predictions from the climate models are roughly valid, and because of that I support any effort that can limit GHG emissions without stressing the economy and causing problems of its own. The 3-10-08 issue of Business Week has a neat chart on p 13 showing how a large number of remedial actions would actually have economic benefits. If that's true, I'd support them all, and maybe even then some. There are things we probably should have been doing all along, anyway.

    Don

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Dave Wallace
      Cc: asa@calvin.edu
      Sent: Friday, February 29, 2008 6:48 AM
      Subject: Re: [asa] FW: Temperature Monitors Report Widescale Global Cooling

      Randy Isaac wrote:
> Don,
> This is a good time to remind everyone of the difference between
> climate and weather. No climate model will predict the weather for any
> month. One monthly fluctuation says nothing about climate.
> You say you don't trust any global climate model. I recently
> summarized the oceanic data that showed rather convincingly independent
> from any of the global climate models that we have an anthropogenic
> source of doubling of atmospheric carbon and that the equilibrium global
> temperature is about 3C warmer than we have it today. Skepticism of
> models is no longer an excuse for being a GW skeptic.
>

      Randy

      OK I think most of us agree that a month's average weather is not
      climate. My question is how long a period is required before the
      average would be considered to be climate? One season (3mths), a year,
      five years, ten years?

      Did you post the summary on oceanic data? I looked for it over the last
      few months and did not find anything.

      I assume in your last sentence that you mean:

      "Skepticism of models is no longer an excuse for being a skeptic that GW
      is mainly caused by anthropogenic effects."

      GW can be detected simply by looking at climate records and is totally
      independent of the models. The models only have to do with determining
      the cause(s).

      Don

      As I have argued before on the list, even if you are skeptical about
      anthropogenic causes of GW, that many of the remediations in any
      sensible scheme are shared with reducing use of oil/energy and with
      reducing pollution in cities.

      Dave W (CSCA)

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Received on Sun Mar 2 09:46:04 2008

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