Declaring victory and moving on?

By: Dr. Ricky Rood , 06:34 GMT le 14 février 2011

Declaring victory and moving on?

In 2006 I started teaching climate change to all comers. It was my first year at Michigan, and I was approached by a set of three students to start a course on climate change. None of these students were physical scientists. It is a fact of universities that professors often start courses so that the professor can learn a subject. I was recruited to Michigan to help develop a focus on climate and climate change, but I was not really a climate scientist. I entered this course with a lot to learn. With the help of the students I structured a course that looked at the intersection of climate change with economics, policy, and business (class link). I think I had 12 guest lecturers the first year.

During the first couple of years there were some truths that became self evident. One of first of those truths was that in the popular discourse of 2006, the arguments around the U.S. not ratifying the Kyoto Protocol was a red herring. Namely, there was this idea that if the U.S. had signed the Kyoto Protocol, then we would have dealt with the climate change problem. It was evident by 2006 that this was not the case; the Kyoto Protocol could not effectively address climate change. In 2006 the students in the class talked about the symbolic meaning of the U.S. as a member of the global community, by 2007 the students arrived at the conclusion that the protocol was, practically, irrelevant.

Several other self-evident truths emerged. People often talk about wanting to look at the evidence themselves and come to their own conclusions. That’s not an easy thing to do in your spare time, and, for climate change, I had the benefit of it being my job. After going through reports and papers and thinking about how to communicate climate-change science to all comers, you realize this massive body of knowledge supports the fact that the surface of the Earth is warming. The evidence is what I called, at the time, coherent and convergent. (In fact, my third blog, a better blog) The correlated information from many measures of the Earth’s climate, the measurements of the feedbacks that follow from the warming, and the stunning amount of evidence from ecosystems form a body of work that, using the word of IPCC 2007, is “unequivocal.”

When we place ourselves in the middle of the climate and its importance to us, the responses to surface warming appear complex. It is easy to conclude that the average temperature of the surface of the Earth will increase, ice will melt, sea level will rise, and the weather will change. We can also say that the changes will be larger in some regions than the other, and that the changes will be disruptive. It is we, the people, that make this more than an academic problem.

More study, more information, and a few outstanding student projects and other truths emerge. One is that there really are not reliable, safe ways to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere(Reliability of the Forest). Related to this, we conclude that a carbon market cannot be an effective policy vehicle. There are no choices, and markets need choices. There needs to be, at a marginal cost, choices of reduced-carbon energy sources and choices of reliable, safe ways to remove carbon from the atmosphere. All we really have working for us right now is energy efficiency, and we cast efficiency more as a moral value than a monetary value. If we want to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere with a market, then we are going to have to use technology and biotechnology to develop those market choices. Without market choices, we are not going to reduce our emissions, because we are not going to give up the standard of living that comes from the use of energy.

Today, right now, our ability to mitigate climate change by reduction of emissions is severely limited. We can design strategies that could make a difference; people teaching classes like mine anchor themselves in Pacala and Socolow, who describe a portfolio of technologically feasible solution paths to reduce emissions. But are we going to build a meaningful number of nuclear power plants in the next 10 years? Most large solar and wind projects are challenged for a variety of environmental consequences – ending or delaying them. Each year of delay is a few more parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. We have no algorithm for trading off a large area of desert for invisible tons of carbon dioxide. Our environmental consciousness has no way to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide except by appealing to efficiency. And with that appeal, to argue that we need no new energy infrastructure, or we can personalize our energy generation. How can we reconcile this with the need for an energy-based economy to grow 2-3% every year to make enough jobs for a growing population? How do we put invisible carbon dioxide emissions in balance with perceived unemployment?

No consensus-based international policy is going to emerge in the next decade that will lead to near-term reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. My takeaway message from Copenhagen 2009 was that if there had ever been a European, Japanese, and U.S. opportunity to set the standard for carbon dioxide reduction it was lost. Emerging economies like China, Brazil, India, and South Africa have lots of emissions and plans to grow. They are spending a lot of money on the development of alternative energy; they are spending a lot of money on the development and use of fossil fuels. They spend enough on alternative energy to claim an environmental high ground, and to develop new technologies, new industries, and new standards. We use enough fossil fuels that even with these new sources of energy, carbon dioxide emissions increase at or above historic rates. Our only measure of success is to point to how high the emissions would be without these new developments.

We have to plan for an Earth with a lot of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The synthesis provided by the recent National Research Council document, Climate Stabilization Targets: Emissions, Concentrations, and Impacts over Decades to Millennia put the stamp of authority and certification on the fact that once fossil-fuel carbon dioxide is placed in the Earth’s atmosphere, it stays there for a very long time. If we held our accumulated carbon dioxide to a trillion tons, then the carbon dioxide would stabilize at about 440 parts per million. That would be a stunning accomplishment. Far more likely, we will emit two or three trillion tons of carbon dioxide, and we will be living with values at double or more compared with pre-industrial levels; we are looking at 600 parts per million.

What is my intent? If you look at the issues raised above, many of them are where we have maintained and will maintain ongoing public arguments. These arguments attract attention, take our time, and take our minds. We align behind ideas like cap and trade and Kyoto, but by the time they might, maybe, possibly be made politically viable, they do little for addressing climate change. They take on the spirit that if we support them, then they are a symbolic first step. We align behind ideas of alternative energy and advocating efficiency, but the implementation of these ideas is met with opposition and challenges. Climate change is from the invisible gas, and the consequences are in the future; we relegate it to an issue of the common good. The urgency to address climate change is lost again and again; it is easily derailed by convenient political arguments and philosophical beliefs. The short-term always trumps the long-term. Our continued use of fossil fuels confirms that we want our energy; our resistance to a comprehensive energy policy relegates attention to climate change as secondary.

The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society has a special issue on world at four degrees warmer. In the Introduction by Mark New and colleagues many of the ideas addressed above are addressed more elegantly and more completely - new ideas emerge. The rate of warming matters a lot. The projected rate of population growth and our current warming trajectory work to maximize stress at the same time. With warming approaching four degrees, stress on resources and human systems related to climate change become comparable to those from population stress.

The acceptance that, with even our best efforts, we are moving to a world that is much warmer removes the incapacitating anxiety of argument. It gets us past the idea that we are going to avoid dangerous warming. We can get to work. I believe that the climate change projections provide us opportunity. I want my students to learn to exploit these opportunities. I believe that trying to exploit these opportunities will make the problem real to many more people, and that their talking about their opportunities, their solutions, will beget more of the same. They will gain, ultimately, advantage.

It is disingenuous to continue to teach my course in the same way. I will talk about the ways we can reduce emissions. I can talk about the need to keep our average warming below two degrees centigrade, our convenient definition of “dangerous climate change.” I can and will talk about policy options, but the truth is, our population and economic imperatives in combination with our lack of real alternatives and policy opportunity leave us with very little wiggle room. Describing that warm world and developing adaptation strategies will make the climate change problem more concrete. It will make the costs far more real. It will bring the problem home to cities, communities, and people. It will motivate technology, solutions.

Here, I advocate we do something different, because what we are doing is not working. I heard arguments for more than a decade that talking about adaptation would keep us from addressing mitigation. Now if we talk about geo-engineering we will fall into the false security that we can manage the climate. It is not rational that by avoiding these subjects that we will somehow change our energy system and reduce our emissions. It is not rational that our denying and ignoring the possibilities, while others take advantage of the information, somehow contributes to a productive dialogue to development of abstract policy solutions to seemingly distant problems. I assert that by addressing these real problems of adaptation, we will identify risk in a meaningful way, and we will make real the need for mitigation.

r


Figure 1. Cover of Four degrees and beyond: the potential for a global temperature increase of four degrees and its implications

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Lordy,..


Some are really grasping at Straw themes.

Ignore User's


...again.

Member Since: 3 juillet 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 141323
even the ice formation rate still the same since 2003

winter is coming there and ice is forming.


Member Since: 6 Mars 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 2212
still within the variability of the long term average

Member Since: 6 Mars 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 2212
166

2011 is well within the variability since 2003


and this

Member Since: 6 Mars 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 2212
How many times we gonna hear,,that this week?

"Couldnt of said it better myself" ?




Member Since: 3 juillet 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 141323
Quoting cat5hurricane:

Folks who aren't as gullible as others into the AGW hype and propoganda don't generally put too much credence into 30 year satellite ice observations when talking about Earth's climate.

Oh look everybody, the storm wobbled. I been watching the past 140 frames on the rapid scan RAMSDIS infrared loop at 245 degrees, but it's changing course now!!!!

LOL!!


I think you give Michael the benefit of the doubt. He is simply a deceitful person. He knows that the variance from the norm is miniscule in the Antarctic yet attempts to pass off a graph of a few years as one depicting a significant change downward. It is simply a lie. The fact is land surface, ocean surface and lower atmospheric temperatures are now approaching average levels or are below average levels of the past 30 or more years. This is global. Ice melt and warm sea temperatures in the north Atlantic is not global, but seem to be the only current statistic that alarmists can grab onto to stay afloat. However, it is obvious your boat has sunk.
Member Since: 29 juillet 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 971
Quoting JFLORIDA:
Mart socialism is a little too complex to discus as it occurs topically here, and grossly off topic.


I'll take that as a yes.
Member Since: 29 juillet 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 971
Quoting martinitony:


I have read that there is more forest today, in the USA, than 500 years ago, because mankind, those evil beings, plant forests just like they plant corn....
Grassland has a higher albedo than forest, right? If what they're doing on this reserve has any merit I would think it would have direct implications about our historical climate knowledge. If there were less trees that means less CO2 sink, but then again that might also mean higher albedo.

With regards to animals impacting climate, could we detect affects of animals on the climate in the past? We can supposedly detect human impacts. I'll give an example.

Here:
New World Post-Pandemic Reforestation Helped Start Little Ice Age, Say Scientists
"Stanford University researchers have conducted a comprehensive analysis of data detailing the amount of charcoal contained in soils and lake sediments at the sites of both pre-Columbian population centers in the Americas and in sparsely populated surrounding regions. They concluded that reforestation of agricultural lands - abandoned as the population collapsed - pulled so much carbon out of the atmosphere that it helped trigger a period of global cooling, at its most intense from approximately 1500 to 1750, known as the Little Ice Age."
I've also read elsewhere that we've detected signs of mass burnings by the romans. So we know (assuming what I linked here is valid peer-reviewed science) that humans affected the climate in the past. Can we apply the same kind of research to find out how animals impacted climate?

I think the truth about this place is exaggerated by the people doing it. What I think is that animals can have big impacts on the environment just like we can. That doesn't mean it's good, though. If someone told me it was natural to pillage the forest or to kill 15% of an animal species per year, I don't think I'd do it just because someone told me it was natural. I do what I feel is right, not what stuffed shirts tell me to do. Because of man's dominance on earth today we've replaced the influence of past animals. The animals are gone, but we're not and we have even bigger impacts. We can destroy the earth multiple times - point to an animal species that can compete with that. Things might not be like they were when man was less numerous, and some might think that's not natural, but this is a different world we live in.
Member Since: 17 septembre 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 182
My previous post was mostly a parody. What's going on there isn't even peer-reviewed. There're so many things I've come across that restrict its value to me - that I didn't point out in the post because I was not being serious. I was wondering who would research it and who wouldn't. So while I was half-joking, it did force me to ask myself a question: could we be wrong about fundamental things?

I won't rule out that what they're doing on that reserve might have value. I mean, most things we do on this planet today are an experiment and we still learn some things. I'm not a scientist. The value of that place is something only a scientist can really judge. But just from my basic research it looks shaky. First, there're no comparable predators on the island to cull the herbivores and keep them from certain areas which would foster brush growth and trees. Two, the reserve didn't even exist naturally - they created it. Three, they're taking animals from all over the country (as far as I can tell) that might not belong there and putting them in this one spot. Four, they exceed current understanding about carrying capacity by more than a magnitude - so they're putting more animals pure acre than what we currently believe is acceptable and by a wide margin. Five, we cannot replicate the past in present conditions but we can attempt to record it by observing traces of the past. Six, they're not in a peer-reviewed journal. Seven, even if they can prove that this was the situation in europe in ages past this doesn't show what it was like on the rest of the planet. Lastly, this reminds me of Jurrasic Park. Etc...

We've been wrong before about big things. I was just reading in Discoverer about ulcers and stomach cancer. The old establishment thought that stress was causing ulcers which could later cause cancers. People popped antacids and it was a billion dollar industry. And this one guy starts to find out that ulcers might be caused by a bacterial infection and everyone laughs him out of the building for a couple decades. He had to do the experiment on himself to prove his research. This is real science and it goes to show you that sometimes when the establishment is financially tied up in the science that it can result in money ruling the show, not brains. The mans name is Barry Marshall.

Obviously what I'm saying here is that if the AGW lobby gets too much money behind it and it's wrong then it'll be a shame because if history shows us anything it's that once money gets involved, it's over. Not entirely over, but the ball has so much momentum it's hard to stop it.
Member Since: 17 septembre 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 182
Lennonism


Member Since: 3 juillet 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 141323
Quoting cchsweatherman:
BREAKING NEWS: According to Frank Strait's fan page on Facebook, Joe Bastardi is now gone from Accuweather. Below is the post from Frank's page.

Let me go ahead and say now that I can't really answer any questions about the departure of Joe Bastardi from AccuWeather. Besides, I really don't know anything about it, anyway, except that it's happened.


Then let me explain a tad what was his downfall,

The World of Meteorology will be crushed as will a few blogger's here as well.

His mouth overrided common sense on a daily basis.

So his departure is welcome by many.

Maybe he can get a gig on FOX.

Ciao ,Joe


From 2 Months ago,

Long wrong Joe Bastardi cooks the books to smear NSIDC. Time for Accuweather to fire him.
National Snow & Ice Data Center explains Bastardi can't read graphs and "is unclear as to how standardized anomalies are derived"
December 5, 2010

UPDATE: Bastardi responded in the comments here. He couldnt bring himself to admit that his accusation of fraud against NSIDC was not merely completely unwarranted but totally inappropriate and in fact based in part on his simple misreading of a graph. Finally, though, on Sunday afternoon, Accuweather took the post down and Bastardi admits in his new Emily Litella post his charge was baseless.

Member Since: 3 juillet 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 141323
150. crucilandia
19:57 GMT le 21 février 2011
despite the linear incrase in CO2 conc in the atm, outgoing longwave radiation has not changed since 1979. therefore the "greenhouse effect" due to CO2 is incoherent.

Member Since: 6 Mars 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 2212
148. biff4ugo
18:09 GMT le 21 février 2011
paratomic.

The Amazon doesn't "bear" that out. While that may be true for North America, the Amazon was not hunted out and has huge trees.

Also, you seem to completely ignore the differences in fire regimes and their effect on tree species and spacing. We have problems with willows in our wetlands too.
Yes, there were more grasslands but...

the North American trees were very different pre-dutch elm disease etc.


Yes, they were very different, but trees also adapt to their grazers. Does your model consider that?
Member Since: 28 décembre 2006 Posts: 119 Comments: 1638
147. martinitony
17:00 GMT le 21 février 2011
Quoting paratomic:
I've been reseraching Oostvaardersplassen the past couple of days:
Wikipedia: Oostvaardersplassen

It's an experiment to find out what things were like hundreds/thousands of years ago before the dominance of mankind. And it's intriguing what they're finding.

They've allowed herds of animals to freely reproduce and eat as they normally would. What's striking is that what's coming out of this research is that the typical persons idea of a medieval forest thick with trees and forest canopy might be a misconception based on our, up to this point, lack of knowledge about what the landscape looked like back then.

What they're seeing is that the animals eat so much (seedlings for example) and roam around so much that trees don't grow as well. And they speculate that the larger animals that existed back then (that were later killed off by humans) would have eaten considerably more than what we see today. So it's a good bet that there were even less trees than they're seeing in this reserve.

What's incredible to me about this is that our idea of primeval forests that rose to the sky might be incorrect and precisely because we do not factor animals into the equation. What this research suggests is that we have thick forests not because they're natural but because humans have killed off so many animals! Now, this is directly related to climate science because if there were less trees than we've believed up to this point because there were less humans killing animals (and larger animals), then there was less CO2 being absorbed into trees and root systems and into the soil.

I guess what i'm asking is... is there any evidence that forests of old were indeed sparse by modern comparisons and if this is so, can we look back at our historical record to confirm that there was less CO2 being absorbed by the worlds forests?

It looks like humans are not the only ones that destroy forests. Except, in this case, what we're finding is that destroyed forests are potentially completely natural and that our vision of thick forests is unnatural. So it all leads to the question of how this affects historical knowledge about climate.


I have read that there is more forest today, in the USA, than 500 years ago, because mankind, those evil beings, plant forests just like they plant corn. I can tell you that there are more deer in Ohio today than ever before because their only natural predator left here is man and the hunting season is so short that deer are so numerous that they are a danger to rural drivers. Sorry, maybe you don't think man is a natural thing.
I can tell you that in Ohio the folklore is that 250 years ago a squirrel could go from the Ohio River to Lake Erie without ever touching the ground moving through those primeval forests of giant oaks. I still have a couple of those old oaks in my front yard. I doubt that the native americans, the indians, killed off enough bison to allow those forests to grow.
Most of the wooded areas of Ohio are new woods that grew up after the first pioneers burned them almost all down to farm. Areas that were too wet because of the soil types were gradually allowed to go back to woods. Hell, even the Black Forest in Germany was gone and farmed until the Black Death eliminated so many in the 1300s that farmland returned to woods.
What I have learned in working in land development and drawing on expertise from geologists and biologists is that the type of growth, trees, wetlands, plains happened because of the types of soils and climate.
One statistic I have never seen, and I think would be interesting, is how much CO2 is absorbed by forest versus farmlands or grasslands or algae. I would like to see the statistic quantified by acreage or square miles. My guess is that most trees don't absorb much more CO2 than what grass , soybeans or corn would if planted under the tree canopy, but I could be wrong. I suppose one way to quantify would be to compare a seasons worth of grass clippings to a seasons worth of raked leaves off comparable surface areas.
Member Since: 29 juillet 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 971
146. paratomic
16:21 GMT le 21 février 2011
I've been reseraching Oostvaardersplassen the past couple of days:
Wikipedia: Oostvaardersplassen

It's an experiment to find out what things were like hundreds/thousands of years ago before the dominance of mankind. And it's intriguing what they're finding.

They've allowed herds of animals to freely reproduce and eat as they normally would. What's striking is that what's coming out of this research is that the typical persons idea of a medieval forest thick with trees and forest canopy might be a misconception based on our, up to this point, lack of knowledge about what the landscape looked like back then.

What they're seeing is that the animals eat so much (seedlings for example) and roam around so much that trees don't grow as well. And they speculate that the larger animals that existed back then (that were later killed off by humans) would have eaten considerably more than what we see today. So it's a good bet that there were even less trees than they're seeing in this reserve. So instead of dense forests with giant trees what we're seeing is savanna-like with some small patches of forest. So life without humans is not so different from what we have today where we log patches of forest. It could be that logging it keeps it more natural than not logging it! Try to tell that to lawmakers or the environmental lobby.

What's incredible to me about this is that our idea of primeval forests that rose to the sky might be incorrect and precisely because we do not factor animals into the equation. What this research suggests is that we have thick forests not because they're natural but because humans have killed off so many animals! Now, this is directly related to climate science because if there were less trees than we've believed up to this point because there were less humans killing animals (and larger animals), then there was less CO2 being absorbed into trees and root systems and into the soil.

I guess what i'm asking is... is there any evidence that forests of old were indeed sparse by modern comparisons and if this is so, can we look back at our historical record to confirm that there was less CO2 being absorbed by the worlds forests?

It looks like humans are not the only ones that destroy forests. Except, in this case, what we're finding is that destroyed forests are potentially completely natural and that our vision of thick forests is unnatural. So it all leads to the question of how this affects historical knowledge about climate.
Member Since: 17 septembre 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 182
145. biff4ugo
14:34 GMT le 21 février 2011
The other topic I am interested in, is that sea level has fluctuated about 2 meters for the last 6,000 years. What feedback loops have kept it inside that range and are those feedbacks still in place?
18,000 years ago it rose to 7 m. above present. What tipping points have to be crossed to bump to that range of sea level?
Member Since: 28 décembre 2006 Posts: 119 Comments: 1638
141. Obamabinladen
04:54 GMT le 21 février 2011
.
Member Since: 15 février 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 13
140. Obamabinladen
04:53 GMT le 21 février 2011
Quoting Patrap:
Ahh yes,,we at wu-Central self moderate our cloned id-its with the Controls.

Use them together,Use them in Peace




Wow your good, has CSI called you yet. If you can figure that out by yourself they have several unsolved cases i'm sure you could help with.
Member Since: 15 février 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 13
139. Obamabinladen
04:50 GMT le 21 février 2011
Quoting Patrap:
Ahh yes,,we at wu-Central self moderate our cloned id-its with the Controls.

Use them together,Use them in Peace




Yawn
Member Since: 15 février 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 13
138. Obamabinladen
04:20 GMT le 21 février 2011
Quoting cat5hurricane:

For starters, let's not prematurely conclude man is driving the world's climate into the ground in response to every little wind shift that takes place or raindrop that falls...

First it was Global Warming and once they found out the planet wasn't warming like they initially thought, they changed the name to climate change. No snow = climate change, more snow = climate change.

Convenient? yes. Stupid? yes.



I couldnt agree more about 25 years ago we were going to beliving in an ice age by now, but know its GW now climate change. How about the circle of life and what ever God's plan is, is what will happen.
Do we need to do all we can to make the world a better place = yes
Member Since: 15 février 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 13
136. Obamabinladen
03:46 GMT le 21 février 2011
Quoting cat5hurricane:

LOL! If we conclude GW is really man-made, I'll be onboard.


Well I'm glade there is @ least one smart person out there. What would it take to get this ball rolling?
Member Since: 15 février 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 13
134. Patrap
03:34 GMT le 21 février 2011
Sen. Inhofe R Oklahoma

Legislation - Committee Assignments

* Standing Committee on Armed Services
website: http://armed-services.senate.gov/
- Subcommittee on Airland
- Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support
- Subcommittee on Strategic Forces

* Standing Committee on Environment and Public Works (Ranking Member)
website: http://epw.senate.gov/


- Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate Change, and Nuclear Safety
- Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Water
- Subcommittee on Superfund and Waste Management
- Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure






Minus,
Minus
Minus
Member Since: 3 juillet 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 141323

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Dr. Ricky Rood's Climate Change Blog

About RickyRood

I'm a professor at U Michigan and lead a course on climate change problem solving. These articles often come from and contribute to the course.

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