From an undisclosed location…

The title was a joke. The rest of this is not.

Cathy Raymond and I evacuated from our home this morning. We’ve never had to do that before.

Storm Nika has totally messed over the five-county area around Philadelphia. I’ve seen more downed power lines today than in my entire life until yesterday. Many roads are blocked by fallen trees. Over 600,000 people are without power; PECO has declared an all-hands emergency but says even so service may not be fully restored until the weekend.

This is much, much worse than Hurricane Sandy was. Regional rail is shut down. Most businesses are closed. So many homes are becoming uninhabitable that the county is setting up emergency shelters in schools.

Nominally it’s around 32F with little wind-chill but the freezing rain (now stopped, but could resume) soaks through clothes rapidly and I had minor cold burns around my ankles this morning from (unavoidably) walking through deep slush.

You would not want to be caught outside in this, hypothermia could sneak up on you and kill you much faster than is obvious. I felt it coming on a little when I was helping clear fallen trees from a friend’s driveway; fortunately, I could limit my exposure.

Temperatures are supposed to drop ten degrees tonight. As wet at it is now, that’ll turn a lot of roads into glare ice.

We’re OK. We were on the ball enough to nail down a hotel room a couple of hours before most people figured out they ought to. It’s only a couple of minutes from home; we can easily retrieve anything we need, it’s just not safe to try to live there yet.

We check on the house occasionally. Damage from treefalls is a minor but not insignificant concern. Also Sugar is still there; while she’s nicely demonstrating that all that cat fur is not purely decorative, Cathy worries.

Dammit, this year I am going to install a generator at the house. One instance of having to bug out is enough…and given the Maunder-Minimum-like trend in solar activity there’s probably more of this coming, not less. Hey, all you AGW idiots? It would be nice if we could actually have some global warming…?

Categorized as General


  1. I’m glad to hear you guys are alright. So far, the lights are still on in my neighborhood. (South Philly, which Eric knows, but not all readers might.)

    Even if we’re just in for a period of extreme chaotic weather which isn’t caused by people, we at least need much better prediction.

  2. Eric, I am surprised you don’t have a full house generator. That doesn’t sound like you at all. Our house generator is exercised every Tuesday morning and it is the most exquisite reassuring sounds that any machine can make. That lowly 1 liter engine has saved us more times than I can even remember. And yes, the global warming alarmists really do and will have a lot of responsibility on their hands if we truly are entering a Dalton or Maunder minimum cooling. Stock pick – North Face!

  3. Robert Frost encourages you with a teleological sonnet:

    The tree the tempest with a crash of wood
    Throws down in front of us not to bar
    Our passage to our journey’s end for good,
    But just to ask us who we think we are

    Insisting always on our own way so.
    She likes to halt us in our runner tracks,
    And make us get down in a foot of snow
    Debating what to do without an ax.

    And yet she knows obstruction is in vain:
    We will not be put off the final goal
    We have it hidden in us to attain,
    Not though we have to seize earth by the pole

    And, tired of aimless circling in one place,
    Steer straight off after something into space.

  4. It’s 1 degree F in Denver right now, with windchill at -9. Black ice is routine here in winter, so a Subaru Outback is more necessity than vanity. On the bright side, hardship reminds us that we are the remnants of a long line of evolutionary survivors.

  5. @esr: After Sandy, you told me you had gas service, so I’ll remind you to buy a gas generator installation. Don’t skimp and try to get away with a little Honda gasoline model and an extension cord. Go for the whole-house thingee, with the transfer box, and the timer/controller that automatically tests it every week.

    1. >What are you doing to keep your pipes from freezing?

      Nothing in particular. The chances of it staying cold enough for long enough that to happen are remote enough that knowing how to prep against that is not part of local folk knowledge. Nor is it anywhere else I’ve ever lived since I was old enough to notice.

      What would you do?

      UPDATE: I’ve done some research. Turns out that it’s not a live concern here because (a) temperatures below 20degF (-6degC) are rare – the coldest periods in our winters tend to bottom out at about 30degF (-1degC) – and (b) houses are built not to be vulnerable the way they are in many Southern states – as in “Who in his right mind would build pipes exposed to outside temperatures?” In fact it’s normal practice to pack insulation around water pipes here; I’ve seen it being done in new construction.

      It helps that at 60 miles inland we still get some coastal temperature moderation (and occasionally even seagulls – I’ve seen them here myself). An hour west of here it gets significantly colder in winter and I’m guessing homeowners have to be more careful. Ditto for an hour north.

      UPDATE2: Turns out I’m partially wrong about the folk knowledge. My wife grew up half an hour north and west of here, just outside the coastal moderation zone. She knew to leave the taps slightly running. It’s currently 23degF (-5degC) still well above the pipe-freeze threshold.

  6. Sorry for your problems – I moved from Philly area 30 years ago to Southern NC – we got nailed last Tuesday/Wednesday, freezing rain followed by 4-6″ of snow – all gone by Saturday. We do that every 20-30 years or so to remind the “Snow Birds” what they left behind. It was 68F and cloudy with some sun today. Might want to consider moving south before we close the border (again).

  7. Florida here. We call this “October.”
    Seriously, our hurricane season is hot (or at least warm), which makes it much easier to deal with. That said, during our Annus Horribillus of 2004/2005 we evacuated five times. One was a false alarm and the other 4 did damage. At least Tallahasee hasn’t been hit since (though we’ve been brushed). All the best, and, yeah, generators are great (but only if they work, so do your research and if need be, swallow your ego and hire a professional).

  8. > Hey, all you AGW idiots? It would be nice if we could actually have some global warming…?

    I’m sure Australia would love to share. Hell, it has been unseasonably warm across most of Europe.

    The current cold snap is directly explained by mechanisms that have been predicting such weather patterns since the 50s – namely, unusually fast temperature rises in the Arctic disrupting the polar vortex and sending the cold arctic air in a random direction..

  9. Sorry to hear that. Last March we spent two days in school gym hall due to a snowed in motorway. The major lesson learned is that if you can get a blanket, mat or a bed between you and the floor, everything else becomes an annoyance we could get used to easy. The first night we couldn’t, and learned a lesson about heat loss through conduction vs. the usual thermal radiation. Since that I kinda see floors and other solids as if they were like 50% water – in the sense that with full length body contact even a fairly low difference from body temperature is a serious matter in the long run.

    We also learned something about human behavior. Something along the lines of empathy or compassion not being constant. More like as the body releases adrenaline in sudden danger, sudden and large doses of empathy can be released in situations like that. Even the kind of people who would be sullen jerks in everyday situations, and even ignore beggars and homeless and suchlike, suddenly became very nice and working their ass off to dig cars out of the snow when they saw a lot of people in deep trouble. I suspect that a large number of people in trouble kicks in a very strong let’s-preserve-the-tribe instinct.

  10. Your situation has resonances with the 2011 M9 quake I went through when I was living in Koriyama, Fukushima prefecture at the time.

    We got through that, mostly due to me having prepped for disaster. I even had a generator at the ready, the irony being that our power supply must have been made out of Unobtanium as it maintained supply all the way through (apart from immediately after the main quake, as my UPS had drained due to the circuit breakers having tripped). At the most we had large power glitches which were in fact indications of approaching very strong aftershocks – the glitches being caused by substations blowing and power being quickly re-routed.

    What I didn’t foresee were the problems caused by the nuclear power plant 33 miles West of us going FOOM! That caused quite a bit of concern at the time.

  11. After “toughing it out” a couple of times we did the generator thing a couple of years ago. Didn’t want to spend a ton of money so I bought a 6500 watt diesel generator (Aurora Generators is an awesome company) and put in a $40 sub-panel to which I moved all of the circuits needing generator power, with a set of interlocked breakers. The whole thing is documented at [] with a video of it at [].

    During and after Hurricane Sandy, the video became so popular that I started getting legal threats from Reliance Controls, the company that makes those crappy barely-legal retrofit transfer switches with the little button breakers in them. I don’t have the $$$ for a court battle so I had to take the video down and replace it with one that redacts the scene where viewers are encouraged not to buy those crappy little panels.

    Let me be clear about something Reliance Controls deliberately makes vague (and tells their distributors to make vague) — when the house is running on generator power, the full size breakers in your main panel are NOT in use. The only thing protecting your wiring during generator use are those crappy little button breakers. They keep saying “UL 489 certified” but good luck getting any electrical inspector to sign off on button breakers used as primary circuit protection.

    But yeah … generators are awesome :)

  12. Eric:
    If things get worse, my place in the Pittsburgh area is available. The roads out here are in relatively bad shape, but in decent absolute shape. Also, there haven’t been any noticeable power outages in the area (my utility reports 2 50-home outages in the greater Pittsburgh area which is trivial).

    I second the approach of getting a generator which can run off of natural gas in addition to tanked fuel – it’s unlikely that natural gas and electricity will both go down at the same time *and* that you’ll still be alive to care.

    1. >If things get worse, my place in the Pittsburgh area is available

      Thanks, but the area is recovering. And a five-hour car trip with a cat who hates car travel? *shudder*

  13. @esr: Pipe freezing is quite rare in your area of the country unless you live in a mobile home or have a really old house that was converted to indoor plumbing (this is still quite common in some older urban areas, believe it or not0. The reason being that the pipes are situated mostly underground: In basements, crawl spaces, etc., in addition to being insulated This helps moderate the temperature in both the summer (to keep your cold water cold) and in the winter (to keep your pipes from freezing.)
    Another place you’d have to worry would be much further north. Like, say, Michigan’s Upper Penninsula or Minnesota (*cough*Jay Maynard*cough*) where the temperatures *do* get cold enough for long enough.

    I seriously doubt you have to worry much about your pipes freezing.

  14. I live in a big city (Toronto), and we were without power for 6.5 days after the Great Christmas Ice Storm of 2013. It was inconvenient, but we survived by sleeping at a friend’s house. On the pipe freezing topic – despite a few bitterly cold days, our interior never dropped below 5C, and the basement (where the pipes are) was warmer thanks to it being underground.

    Anyway. After the entire northeast was knocked off the power grid for two days back in 2003, I considered getting a generator. But in the 10 years since, we’ve had two additional power outages longer than a couple of hours.In that decade I would have been performing regular generator maintenance and testing, and probably replacing consumable parts, and (possibly) rotating old fuel, and so on.

    I think I’m ahead of the game – sure, having no power was inconvenient, but so is generator maintenance! If you live in the country things can get worse, but – as you say – this is the *worst* you’ve ever seen.

    All I’m saying is – consider how much additional frustration you’re buying by having a generator as part of your decision making process… ;)

  15. You’re probably better off to get a kerosene heater and maybe a small gas generator than invest in a big whole house genset, based on how infrequent your outages are and how non-disruptive they actually are. You’re not running a hospital so losing power for even a couple of days isn’t a huge deal. Much like Atlanta still shouldn’t buy a fleet of snow plows…

    I live in the middle of nowhere. We get overnight or longer power outages once a year or so. I primarily heat with a wood stove, but that’s because it’s cheaper and I prefer it (nothing beats a steak grilled on the coals in the wood stove). I wouldn’t install a whole house genset. I wouldn’t get the ROI. I am going to buy a gas powered portable generator this summer. I can use it to keep the freezers running, and I can use it for other things not related to power outages, so it makes sense.

    I’d like to install a couple of wind turbines, since where I live is flat and windy, so I’d probably be able to sell power back to the electric co. It would have the side benefit of me having power when the grid goes down, but that wouldn’t be a primary reason to do it.

  16. Canadian here; 32F (0C) should not be life threatening with decent boots and clothing. If your footwear is inadequate, wool socks and plastic bags will keep your feet warm and dryish.

    Cotton kills; as long as you’re wearing wool or polar fleece next to your skin, with a couple of extra layers and decent waterproof jacket, rain pants and mitts, you can be quite comfortable doing moderate activity (brisk walk) in weather down to 10F (-10C) or so.

    That falls well short of what we do up here to spend a weekend outdoors in 0F (-15C), but it’s not expensive and probably prudent for your area. I would say that anyone in rural Pennsylvania should be prepared to spend several hours working outdoors in freezing rain conditions.

  17. > Canadian here; 32F (0C) should not be life threatening with decent boots and clothing.

    A Swede with whom I worked at LP once said that they (Swedes) have a saying that there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing :)

  18. Hey, all you AGW idiots? It would be nice if we could actually have some global warming…?

    This covered by the undergraduate physics treatment of thermodynamics: If the earth becomes warmer and the night sky remains the same, there’s an increase in the temperature difference that drives convection in the atmosphere, making the winds faster and pressure systems stronger, so that more extreme hot *and* cold weather can travel farther and do more damage before the extremes are mediated by conduction and radiation.

  19. The concept of ROI on a home generator is silly. If you have the money, the return is the comfort of staying in your own home, and not having your life disrupted. There’s no price you can put on that.

  20. So spending thousands of dollars upfront, plus many future hours and dollars for continuing maintenance is worth the “comfort of staying in your own home”. How about the comfort of using that money and time for something more enjoyable and worthwhile? And you only get the “comfort of staying in your own home, and not having your life disrupted” as long as the genset has fuel and is working, and you’re not forced from your home by another condition altogether.

    But it’s a free market. If you want to spend your cash on a generator that you’ll rarely, if ever use, have at it.

  21. Well, there is a reason “all us AGW idiots” call it global climate change. Because jet streams, more storms. It will get warmer in the long run. Also, if that does not make sense, blame the fact that I’m 12, not that I’m an “AGCC idiot”

  22. In underchilled rain and slush up to your ankles, there is really just one remedy. You need boots like the Lundhag ones. For example

    You wear double pairs of wool socks inside. This way you can survive hours standing or walking in slush.

    During the Falklands war the British Army had a low ranking officer who brought his own pair of Lundhags. He was the only person in the first reconnisance team who kept dry and effective. This resultet in the British armed forces buying every single pair of Lundhag boots that were available in Sweden. I don’t know if they managed to get them to the troops before the war was over.

    1. >You need boots like the Lundhag ones.

      I get a lot of my clothes from a catalog called L.L. Bean. If you were American and came from the appropriate range of income strata you would know what that means without further explanation. And it would drop some pretty reliable hints about my class background, taste, and attitude about clothes, too.

      Since you aren’t: outdoorsy clothing in classic patterns, simply and ruggedly made from excellent materials. Not cheap but it looks good and wears well for a long time – people who use it are signaling that they have the desire and ability to pay for high quality without being ostentatious, also suggesting an indifference to transient fashions. The brand has regional associations with New England and a lot of the old-money aristocracy there wears it. Because of the region, the company does a lot of cold-weather and hunting gear; that’s actually where they started, the street clothes came later.

      L.L. Bean makes waterproof hunting boots a lot like your Lundhags. They’re specifically targeted at duck hunters who have to wade through freezing wetlands. I don’t deal with conditions like that often enough to justify owning a pair, but I thought of them instantly. So would a lot of Americans of upper-middle-class SES and higher.

  23. @esr:

    > Hey, all you AGW idiots? It would be nice if we could actually have some global warming…?

    Sorry, but scientists agree, that global warming actually leads to more extreme weather conditions (while the 0.X change in the average temperature, you won’t notice).

    1. >Sorry, but scientists agree, that global warming actually leads to more extreme weather conditions

      Yet another falsified prediction. Weather extrema (as measured, in particular, by storm incidence) are decreasing, not increasing. Look up the historical statistics, for example, on Atlantic storms. Bad nor’easters and tornadoes were significantly more common in the last century then they have been in this one. And 19th-century weather was significantly more violent than 20th-century.

      To be fair, believing the contrary is an easy mistake because human exposure to extreme weather has increased so much. Many more people live in vulnerable coastal areas than formerly, higher population densities make expected deaths from point events such as tornadoes go up, and so forth.

  24. > What would you do?

    Sounds like Cathy got it.

    I’m in New England, right near the coast, so power outages after storms are common here and it’s a bit colder. Some of my neighbors had pipes freeze after a blizzard that we had last winter.

    In addition to letting the water trickle there are a few things that I do (which may not be possible at your house). I have a gas range and a gas hot water heater that is purely mechanical so I have running hot even when the power is out. This means that I can dump a kettle of boiling water down the drain every couple of hours to keep the drains from freezing. Also placing a large pot of hot water up against or just under the pipes can keep them warm enough that they don’t freeze. Keep the lid on it so the steam doesn’t condense all over the cold pipes.

    If you don’t have either of these, you can get a cheap butane burner (I have one for my boat) from anyplace that sells camping or restaurant supplies.

    If you have the money, the generator sounds like you’re best bet.

    Hopefully, you’re power is back on by now.

  25. So a question to all the global warming believers: If this is what global warming looks like “Sorry, but scientists agree, that global warming actually leads to more extreme weather conditions” what does global cooling look like?? So as the globe gets cooler the weather gets more moderate? Give me a break. The science of global warming is as much about science as scientology. It is a cult with a pagan god and priests that stand before computers and a shrine of data models. It is a sad sham that is slowly coming apart at the seams; and as their god melts away the priests become more feverish with their incantations. Brother Phil, retreive the holy hockey stick of East Anglia.

  26. I thought every geek was issued a pair of hiking boots. :) A pair of Goretex lined hikers and some wool socks (Costco has wool socks almost as good as Smartwool for less than $3/pair) and you’re unstoppable.

    Best of luck getting your power back on and getting home. We live in an area that had major effects from Sandy *and* Irene (which was nastier) and lost power for about a half hour, total. Something about being in a small area that has buried power lines or something. Can’t always count on being lucky, next place we live we’re planning on the whole-house genset with transfer switch.

  27. Oh, LL Bean. Younger people who are sympathetic with those values and signals (you don’t have to come from old New England money) often road trip to their store. It’s an experience.

    1. >(you don’t have to come from old New England money)

      It’s true, and I don’t. But old New England money is undeniably central to their brand image. And not as flim-flam; the connection is genuine.

      A lot of American marketers like to yammer about “heritage” brands – those that don’t merely have a long-established good reputation but in some way express or define a corner of American culture. L.L. Bean is the real thing, and doesn’t need to make noise about that. In fact, if it ever does I’ll know the end of its days is near.

  28. @ESR I triend Land’s End after you mentioned that in a former article about fashion years ago and they sell over there. It’s remarkable that they are my only shirts that don’t look like doggie rag after a year, but the thick, shapeless material and the awkward colors (non-iron shirts came in what I would call bus-driver blue, looking vaguely uniformlike) didn’t make them my favorites. And the pants had a huge expanding crotch / hip / pockets area. Reminded me of the horse riding pants WWI Prussian officers would wear in really cheap movies. Weird.

    I still think the Milanese know best i.e. Armani Jeans, Versace Jeans, Moschino, Diesel, Replay, Marlboro Classics, whatever, etc. etc. but they have no durability whatsoever…

  29. @jsre:

    > So as the globe gets cooler the weather gets more moderate?

    Sorry, but just like Eric, you apparently didn’t get the point what is meant by “more extreme weather conditions”. What that means is, the average does not change much, if at all, but you have more situations at the limits and the limits may be driven further apart.

    When you compare it to throwing a dice you may get less threes and fours and more sixes but also more ones. So Eric’s statement is not a contradiction at all to the current GW theories. On the contrary, seeing more extremly calm weather in some parts of the world (the atlantic) is exactly one fact that is predicted.

  30. … and jfre, if you believe GW is not science but paganism, you should probably refrain from using telephones, computers aa well as modern chemistry in general. It was Joseph Fourier who first predicted the greenhouse effect in 1824, it was Svante Arrhenius who did significant work on it and it was Alexander Graham Bell who started to advocate the use of alternate energy sources in 1917 because of the effects the burning of fossile fuels has, but also their limited availability.

  31. So Manfred, what does global cooling look like? What do the models predict would be the signs of global cooling? As the earth’s temperature drops what are the “signs”? All I hear on the AGW front is that what we are seeing today are the “signs” of GW. So tell me, if increased variability is the sign of AGW what do the models predict of global cooling?

    The scientific method uses objective data to create a model based on previous known facts combined with a new hypothesis that helps to predict future observations. When the model does not explain the ongoing observations, the hypothesis is reworked to help move it closer to the observed reality. The true believers in AGW have shredded the scientific method by altering source data, limiting publication of data sets, inhibiting others from reproducing results, and stifiling scientific debate. The hypothesis with AGW priests can not be questioned. Hence the reference to a pagan cult. I mean look at the language. It has gone from “Global Warming” to “Climate Change”. Really?? I don’t know if you have noticed but the climate is one of the most naturally variable elements in our lives. I object to the frank scientific dishonesty. When all the predictions of increasing temperatures didn’t come true (for the past decade and a half, btw) the “science” morphed from Global Warming to Climate Change. What a load of bunk. Face it, the models failed. The hypothesis is wrong. The theory is flawed. That the supporters of this “science” blindly continue to advance this as “a solved question” show that they have gone from the scientific method to a religion. The same type of “scientific” religion that gave us Lysenkoism based genetic theories in the 1920s lead to starvation of millions under Stallin as the theory did not work.

    You can not question a belief, you should always question scientific theories. If you can not question your beliefs then go make an offering to appease your angry god.

  32. @ Manfred Wassmann – “if you believe GW is not science but paganism”

    Not paganism, but tyranny by proxy.

    If AGW believers were incapable of using politics to enslave the rest of us, would they still squawk as loudly?

  33. The concern I have stems from the intersection of this “Scientific Fact” called AGW and public policy. This is dangerous and we have seen the fruit from this tree before. The cause is always noble and the ends always good for the collective.

    Lysenko based genetic “Science” causing the starvation of millions under Stalin. Better crops, more food. How could you say no? It didn’t work and people starved and died because of this “known science”. That Stalin wanted them dead anyway was just a side benefit.

    The science of Eugenics, developed in the late 1870’s ultimately leading to death of over 100 million people by the end of the third reich. This took the form of forced sterilizations of hundreds of thousands in the US and across the so called developed world. BTW, removal of the ovaries in the late 1800’s had a periop mortality rate of 20%, but they still did it. Herding the mentally ill, gypsies, gays and obviously the jews into death camps. All for bettering the human race. Eliminate the suffering of the retarded, the unfit and the disfigured. What a noble cause, what a horrific result.

    (BTW, the patron saint of Planned Parenthood, Marget Sanger, was a big believer in eugenics. Google “eugenics and sanger”. It is in an article from PBS no less. Ever wonder why abortion clinics tend to be in the poor areas of town? I guess it is because all them over there are just stoopid and should not reproduce.)

    What do you see in the AGW policy? “We” are going to control the energy sources for the planet because if “We” don’t the tides will rise, desolation will come to the land, etc, etc. What a noble cause! Any price is worth the end result, right? This is not science. It is worse. It is the use of the amazing legitimate accomplishments of science over the past 100 years to again cloak evil. Just as the “science” of eugenics was used. Manfred, wake up. We have walked this path before. Don’t let the owrd or concept of “Science” blind you. There is no science left in AGW. The science that was there became a pretext for economic control. It has been replaced by religion and in the future will be used as a weapon. If you create a body that controls fossil fuels and energy, billions will suffor and die. Sound familiar? Don’t become a collaborator.

  34. I’ve read the following sentence somewhere: “Science is a method and not an institution.”

    This is actually really the essence of the debate as they are two radically different ways to approach it and I am not even fully sure one is fully valid and the other is fully not.

    You can see science as primarily an academic hierarchy, actually, mirroring the Catholic Church which pretty much invented it (medieval universities) and accepting whatever they say on the basis of authority, basically, trust. This is of course vulnerable. Not necessarily fully wrong though. The division of labor is a good thing, specialization is a good thing, do you want to learn everything or just leave medicine to the doctors, car repair to mechanics, science to scientists and focus on your own competitive advantage? This makes sense. On the other hand, scientists are just people, and academia can have perverse incentives due to funding, publish-or-perish or many other factors, so actually putting too much trust in them is also problematic. You can trust them 99 out of 100 cases but still work on somehow checking them in the 100th one. To deny this, you would either have to prove that learning somehow causes impeccable ethics or they really figured out a system that keeps everybody honest or at least quickly discovers frauds. Is this likely? If they have such a good system why don’t we use it everywhere from politics to banks?

    The other view is that science just a method that can be employed by everyone and arguments from academic authority are wrong. This view is borderline anarchistic. It would also lead to a loss in specialization and efficiency if everybody had to educate themselves into half a scientist just to be able to carry out his duty as a voter in a democracy and form an informed opinion about AGW. On the whole a lot of efficiency loss, except for the fact of course that learning science can also be considered fun. Ultimately, we need specialization, we need professions, and we need to have the kind of trust that when a doctor with a good degree tells you you have cancer, you actually assume that OK you probably really have cancer. But if we do that, who guards the academia? Who keeps them honest?

    The logical conclusion seems to be: usually trust in academia, with rare exceptions. Treat science as a method that is usually wielded by an institution but can also occasionally grabbed away from them. The next questions to investigate: how to recognize such exceptional situations and is AGW such an exceptional situation?

    1. >I’ve read the following sentence somewhere: “Science is a method and not an institution.”

      That is correct. The authority of science as an institution rests solely on the extent to which it applies the method. When it ceases to do do, then it is time to burn down the institution.

  35. It’s not ridiculous on its face that a global warming trend could lead to more extreme cold spells locally. But from what I’ve seen, if the winter is mild and dry, it’s blamed on global warming. If the winter is cold and high-precipitation, it’s blamed on…global warming. Or “climate change”, which is such a useless weaselly phrase I refuse to use it. What kind of observations would falsify the hypothesis? I’ve certainly never seen them, regardless of what the weather actually is. If your theory can explain everything equally well, it has no explanatory power.

    1. >What kind of observations would falsify the hypothesis?

      That money and power have ceased flowing to the panickers.

  36. I think global warming is quite likely to be real. We know the greenhouse effect exists, since otherwise nights would be extremely cold even in high summer. I’d expect adding more CO2 to heat the planet in the same way that I’d expect adding a NOP instruction to a tight loop of a computer program to slow it down.

    Occasionally (due to Deep Magic involving alignment, caches, pipelines, etc.) a NOP or other apparently wasteful instruction choice can make things faster. GCC does it all the time. But you wouldn’t bet on a random insertion helping.

    Likewise, maaaaaaybe there’s some complexity that would “excuse” CO2 emission in the really complicated and chaotic weather system, but I wouldn’t count on it.

    But aside from that, my real response to climate “skepticism” is “Why Bother?”. It’s not like CO2 limits are ever going to stick, so I say “que será, será” to theorized climate apocalypses.

    I do favor a “carbon tax”, but only as an economic manipulation to support renewable power development, which we would need anyway. Denying AGW is questionable, but denying Peak Oil is lunacy.

  37. @jfre: If you want to know what the opposite of so called global warming is, look at the works of Svante Arrhenius, Nobel Price laureate for chemistry in 1903. But that’s nothing anything I’m concerned with. We won’t see any significant reduction in the use of fossil fuels, quite probably until at least all of the usable oil reserves are depleted (and that will most likely happen some time this century) or there is a massive disruption in the human population on earth. So we won’t get anything like “global cooling” in the near and probably not so near future.

    But for the rest of your posts: what are you talking about, science or politics?

    a) The logical end results of massively burning fossil fuels, like it is done since the beginning of the industrialization, are a scientific fact beyond doubt. They are not falsified by politicians abusing them.

    b) The ability to use the control of fossil fuels does not stem from GW theories but from their limited availability (and turning to other energy resources actually reduces that ability). But there is yet another point, fossil fuels are not only an energy resource, they are desperately needed in the chemical industry. Currently, without oil, you wouldn’t have anything from chewing gum to modern winter boots. So burning fossil fuels, most notably oil, is a luxury and you should be aware of the price you have to pay for it. By using up fossil fuels, you reduce their availability and thus further the ability of those in control of the resources to use them as a weapon. So don’t become a collaborator. Sounds familiar?

    BTW Politicians don’t make better weather just as they don’t create more equality, if anything they just shift the balance (mostly to their own profit).

    @Shenpen: the catholic church didn’t invent universities, the library of alexandria was first.

    @Tom Hunt:
    1) Climate change in fact better describes what’s going on because the term global warming only refers to one aspect, the rise of the average temperature (which has been predicted and positively verified).

    2) Do you think it renders a theory invalid because an urban legends exist which improperly usese it to give some false explanation? You can’t falsify a theory in that manner.

  38. @Manfred Wassmann:
    The name ‘climate change’ may more fully include the predictions of the hypothesis. However, it’s also so broad as to be useless. Depending on how you define “climate”, it’s always “changing”, and would be whether humans were present or not.

    In the ideal case, true, it wouldn’t have any bearing on the truth or falsehood of the theory how people use it on the street. Sure enough there’s enough people making absurd claims and then defending them with “But quantum!” But the AGW debate hasn’t for a long time been about real science, whose goal is to correctly understand the state of the world. It is and has since I’ve ever heard it been a political and PR effort, whose goal is to funnel more grants to the people studying it and to justify political power grabs. The change from ‘global warming’ to ‘climate change’ as the handle is quite understandable in this context; as the weather failed to cooperate with providing only results which can be interpretable as ‘warming’, AGW’s proponents needed to be able to treat other weather events as “evidence”. Since it sounds stupid to say “These record lows are due to global warming!”, it became ‘climate change’ instead.

    More generally, I don’t think anyone doubts the relationship of CO2 to increased effective insolation due to re-radiation of infrared. However, on its own this effect is really singularly non-terrifying. It grows logarithmically, meaning every doubling of CO2 concentration is an additive increment of effect, and the effect size is tiny compared to actual solar radiation, or for that matter solar variation. The catastrophic AGW hypothesis cannot ride on the plain greenhouse effect alone; it has to confabulate a lot of complicated blather involving feedback loops and cloud formation in order to forecast any sort of significant problem. And there’s no evidence for any of this; it’s the outcome of computer models which are essentially designed to produce that result. The temperature record is relatively uncontroversial, but it’s far from clear that the past forty years or so worth of increasing average temperatures are any of 1. anthropogenic in origin 2. due to the greenhouse effect at all 3. part of a trend likely to continue, as opposed to a multi-decadal cycle. (For one thing, if it was due to human CO2, you would expect it to have continued over the past decade, which it hasn’t, despite the fact that CO2 emissions have only increased.)

  39. From a NASA article on the california drought:

    Bill Patzert blames the drought, in part, on the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, or “PDO,” a slowly oscillating pattern of sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. At the moment, the PDO is in its negative phase—a condition historically linked to extreme high-pressure ridges that block West Coast storms and give the Midwest and East Coast punishing winters.

    “I’m often asked if this is part of global warming,” says Patzert. “My answer is ‘not yet.’ What we’re experiencing now is a natural variability that we’ve seen many times in the past.

  40. For what it’s worth, the pipes to our kitchen sink used to freeze on really cold winter days. They ran along the outside wall of the kitchen, in a fairly inaccessible spot. We wound up saying “the hell with it” and having a plumber come in and route PEX tubing across the basement ceiling more directly to the sink. No problems ever since.

    For our pipes to freeze now, we’d have to be without forced air heat for a substantial period of time in subzero F weather. Certainly a possibility, but I think a remote one.

  41. Manfred,
    If AGW was just a scientific matter, I could care less. Let the scientists argue it out and slowly advance the state of human knowledge and understanding. As this understanding became reliable and robust and proven, (i.e. could even get in the neighborhood of corellating with the observed) it could begin to be used to shape public policy. The science is not that mature and certainly not “settled”, yet powerful interests are using the cloak of “science” to advance an agenda that will impact billions of lives.

    Just as the environmentalists killed the logging industry in the northwest for the spotted owl when it has now been shown that logging had nothing to do with Spotted owl population loss (it was actually natural predation by the rival Barred owl). Oops. Entire communities, the livelyhood of families and long established private industry was wiped out. Many suicides and divorces. Bankruptcy and broken dreams of an entire region. But, but, it was science. We have the studies. It was best for the planet. At the end of the day it was all a lie. That did not really matter either for it was based on science.

    It is not the science, it is the politics that is the problem. Science is being used as a tool to further a political agenda to transfer power from the people to the state. What I find disgusting is the willingness by scientists to be used in this manner. In the end of the analysis it is incredible how cheaply you can buy off the academics. Despite all the high ideals and eloquent language or lofty speech about independence, a few grants, a little fame and they sell their souls. Tell them that the pay line for grants is going up (getting more competitive) and they scream about how the government is restricting academic freedom. Throw them a few kilobucks and they line up like good little boys to lick the jackboot of Uncle Sam.

  42. Folks who support the ‘consensus’ on global warming consider IPCC a premier source of data and IPCC reports do not support the more extreme weather story.

    From IPCC AR5 WG1 report (

    “Confidence is low for a global-scale observed trend in drought or dryness (lack of rainfall) since the middle of the 20th century…”

    “Confidence remains low for long-term (centennial) changes in tropical cyclone activity…”

    “Confidence in large-scale trends in storminess or storminess proxies over the last century is low…”

    I couldn’t find anything in AR5 addressing tornado frequency/intensity but IPCC’s SREX report ( said in 2012 that “There is low confidence in observed trends in small spatial-scale phenomena such as tornadoes and hail because of data inhomogeneities and inadequacies in monitoring systems”

    Unlike our host I think human activity is contributing to global warming, but I also think the alarmists exaggerate both the amount of warming that is likely and the severity of the effects that warming is likely to produce.

  43. If you are the sort of person that seriously needs to jump on the bandwagon of a vague and amorphous apocalyptic threat, allow me to offer an alternative.

    Memetic infection is causing an epidemic of irrationality among pseudo-intellectuals worldwide. It is particularly virulent within the entitlement and grievance communities, and near universal among the incipient tyrants who wish to impose their will via the strong arm of government.

    If you are an AGW believer, why not just self-eradicate your own carbon footprint and leave the rest of us alone?

  44. Re: “Science is being used as a tool to further a political agenda to transfer power from the people to the state.”

    That’s silly, but a distressingly common sentiment among climate “skeptics”.

    Sure, solving AGW the way the activists want (by shutting down fossil energy production) would seem like a good justification for a world government. Otherwise it’s a tragedy of the unregulated commons with no way to enclose.

    But a world government that actually tried to do that would quickly break apart. Once people realized how much electricity would cost under the planet-saving regime, they’d see a massive personal payoff to secession.

    There are so many other good things a world government could accomplish that don’t involve torturing its citizens so. Only someone who sincerely believes AGW is doom would risk throwing it all away just to take a whack at this one problem.

  45. There are so many other good things a world government could accomplish

    This is probably not the best place to be making that claim.

  46. “There are so many other good things a world government could accomplish” [citation needed]

    “Only someone who sincerely believes AGW is doom would risk throwing it all away just to take a whack at this one problem.” You’re assuming leftists are capable of coherent thinking; if they were, they wouldn’t be leftists.

  47. “There are so many other good things a world government could accomplish”

    I imagine an increase in personal liberty would not be on the list.

  48. @esr: What are conditions like today?

    Here’s a question which has come to mind recently: A lot of the early climate change research was based on bristle-cone tree rings. Given that we now have several additional years of actual, direct temperature records, has anybody gone back and obtained tree ring samples and verified that using the existing models the tree rings comply with the known temperature data? That would be and interesting way of attempting to validate or falsify at least part of the data inputs to the models.

  49. We really have no idea how the carbon cycle(s?) function, now do we.

    In the Swedish article in DI it is mentioned that 1/4 to 1/3 of carbon dioxide “disappears” inexplicably over land in the northern hemisphere, no-one knows how or where.

    New discoveries show biological formation of oxygen in soils

    January 21, 2014


    In the 1930s, the ability of green plants to form oxygen through oxidation of water — photosynthesis — was discovered. Since then, no other large-scale biological formation of oxygen has been found, until now. New research results show that down in the dark depths of the soil, a previously unknown biochemical process is under way, in which oxygen is formed and carbon dioxide is reduced to organic material.
    . . .

    Journal Reference:

    Siegfried Fleischer, Lovisa Bauhn, Patrik Fors, Arvid Ödegaard-Jensen. Dark oxidation of water in soils. Tellus B, 2013; 65 (0) DOI:

    Google “Deep Biosphere” and you will find some interesting ongoing research.

    Karsten Pedersen was head of the Deep Biosphere Laboratory, Göteborgs universitet. He and the laboratory and its site are long gone, this is from the site.

    “Global microbial biomass at a glance

    The number of intra-terrestrial microbes varies notably depending on the underground site studied. Values in the range of one thousand up to one hundred million microbes per ml groundwater or gram sediment are commonly reported. Although the dry weight of hundred million microbes in one gram of sediment is very small, in the range of 1 – 10 micro-gram, the total weight of microorganisms in many square kilometres of seafloor and continental shelve sediments, rock aquifers etc. may reach an impressive number. An attempt to estimate the total carbon in terrestrial and intra-terrestrial environments was made recently. These calculations indicate that the total amount of carbon in the intra-terrestrial organisms may equal that of all terrestrial and marine plants. Although subject to a great deal of uncertainty, the estimates suggest that the biomass of intra-terrestrial life is very large. A wealth of microbial life may exist deep inside Earth with many new species, representing novel microorganisms with unique physiological and biochemical features that await exploration.”

  50. @Hank Griffin: If you cite the IPCC, you should also cite this: “A landmark report says scientists are 95% certain that humans are the “dominant cause” of global warming since the 1950s.”

    and concerning the “mysteriously dissapearing CO2”, it is well known the process of dissolution of limestone in water consumes CO2 and the result of this gets visible as cacification on your taps, I don’t know the scale, but it might be not that mysterious.

    @Garrett: There has been much more research than tree rings, e.g. cores taken from polar ice provide an excellent record thousands of years backwards.

    sorry, don’t have the time to go into detail.

  51. AGW meme resolution is simple. CO2 comprises about 380/1,000,000 atoms and Oxygen comprises 209,460/1,000,000 atoms found in the atmosphere. Plants use CO2 to produce O2. Clearly the plants are limited by the scarcity of CO2 and in fact control the CO2 levels. Plants grow more and faster until they use up ALL biologically available CO2. This is well known by horticulturalists and aquarium keepers who artificially raise CO2 levels to gain more robust plant growth. We can also see the slight greening of the planet with satellites as well.

    CO2 controls nothing and plants vs respiration control everything about atmospheric O2 vs CO2 composition and this has been the case for over a BILLION years. The changes we are witnessing are simply most likely chaotic noise in the system due to global variations in temperature and rainfall patterns.

    Just because we don’t know shit about the specifics of the global carbon cycle does not constitute any reason to panic. Perhaps some day we will actually have the numbers needed to quantify the process and its variability.

    But until then, we have no choice but to trust that what has been will continue to be and there is nothing new under the sun. We just are not that important on a global scale despite all efforts to puff up our importance.

  52. Re: objections to “the good things a world government could do”.

    I said “could do”, not “will always do”. There’s no silver bullet.

    One thing it could do, which should be considered good in a bipartisan way, is get rid of corporate welfare. Expunging corporate welfare at a local level is difficult if business can just move to where it is still offered, resulting in the corporate-welfare-hating state being forced to pay more in real welfare (or tolerance for unmitigated poverty) and lost taxes.

    Of course, such policies could be deployed to a smaller effect within federated nations, to stop provinces from racing each other to the bottom, but don’t seem to be yet at the moment….

  53. Denying AGW is questionable, but denying Peak Oil is lunacy.

    “Natural resources are not finite in any meaningful economic sense, mind-boggling though this assertion may be. The stocks of them are not fixed but rather are expanding through human ingenuity.”
    – Julian Simon

  54. Have you not heard about the oil and gas boom in North America? It’s got the Arabs worried enough that they’re funding the anti-fracking lunatics.

  55. I noticed that one important point was implicit in my last post and perhaps some do not understand this fact. Virtually ALL atmospheric oxygen is produced by plants, consuming almost all atmospheric CO2 in the process.

    It is estimated that humans produces less than 3% of total annual CO2 production from all our activities in a relatively steady rate but atmospheric CO2 concentrations actually cycle in time with growing seasons and daily with day/night cycles.

  56. @ Michael Deutschmann “but denying Peak Oil is lunacy.”

    “Peak Oil” alone does not have any economic relevance with out at least rough date to go with it. Certainly those that placed Peak Oil some ten years ago, followed immediately with a return to the stone age, have the greater claim on lunacy.

    North Dakota

    And btw, US production of natural gas just broke an all time record.

  57. Milhouse, the Peak Oil folks are well aware of the fracking boom, but they do not think those wells will produce for long.

    (Of course this has got the Climate Change people in a tizzy, since now the point at which we are unable to continue using fossil fuel is clearly beyond the point at which they fear disaster is unstoppable.)

    Biobob, the CO2 level has been monitored since 1958, and it is indeed going up. The contribution of the plants makes it a two-steps-forward-one-step-back sort of affair, but the pattern is blatantly obvious. It’s not chaotic like the temperature measurements.

  58. @Tom Hunt:
    > The name ‘climate change’ may more fully include the predictions of the hypothesis. However, it’s also so broad as to be useless. Depending on how you define “climate”, it’s always “changing”, and would be whether humans were present or not.

    I guess, what you are talking about is weather changes not climate change. The weather changes quite frequently but the climate does so only on a very low scale. Natural climate change usually takes thousands of years and we should be heading straight into another ice age by now. But what we see is quite the opposite. A couple of years ago melting of polar ice had increase so much, even beyond the worst predictions, using the North-West-Passage for transport became an option for the first time since its discovery. Obviously is some self-reinforcing process has been triggered by human activity and this probably results from an increase in the driving force of the gulf stream, which is partly powered by the difference in density of sweet water from molten ice and salty seawater. Thus more melting leads to more energy transported into the polar region with the warm gulf stream waters which further increases the melting in the summer time.

    > The change from ‘global warming’ to ‘climate change’ as the handle is quite understandable in this context; as the weather failed to cooperate with providing only results which can be interpretable as ‘warming’,

    Sorry, the change in wording from “global warming” to “climate change” is actually triggered by climate change deniers constantly stating things like “Hey, all you AGW idiots? It would be nice if we could actually have some global warming…?” Even *if* any GW theory would predict an increase in temperature large enough to abolish all freezing in moderate climate zones, that would cause the temperature to be boiling hot in the summer and make the area completely uninhabitable. So such claims are utter nonsense, but them beeing used over and over again by CCDs gives rise to the change in wording from GW to CC.

    And regarding your claim the effects of GW hadn’t increased in the past decade: the melting of polar ice has and for more details I refer you to the IPCC article I cited above.

    @BioBob: > The changes we are witnessing are simply most likely chaotic noise …

    No they are not. Climate changes occur on earth even naturally, the effect is seen in ice ages and interglacials, like the one we are currently living in, but as mentioned above we should be heading into another ice age.

    > “Natural resources are not finite in any meaningful economic sense, mind-boggling though
    > this assertion may be. The stocks of them are not fixed but rather are expanding through
    > human ingenuity.”
    > – Julian Simon

    Yes, but that does not mean oil reserves are unlimited, resources in general are unlimited, because mankind invents ways to substitute dwindling resources – like using wind, water or sun as energy resources. To claim any single resource would be unlimited on a planet with finite boundaries (where most resources of interest are restricted to a tiny surface shell) would simply be stupid.

    Gas reserves are very much larger than oil reserves, and coal reserves even more – but you can’t simply switch from oil to gas or coal in most cases. Of course some substitution is possible, but generally it’s not that easy and furthermore, it just delays the problem.

  59. According to this most global warming has so far been accumulated in the oceans.
    i have no idea how correct all this is.

    Will the surface climate continue to be linearly related to the oceans’?
    Might the relationship go non-linear at some point?

    Global cooling – Is global warming still happening?

    To say we’re currently experiencing global cooling overlooks one simple physical reality – the land and atmosphere are only one small fraction of the Earth’s climate (albeit the part we inhabit). Global warming is by definition global. The entire planet is accumulating heat due to an energy imbalance. The atmosphere is warming. Oceans are accumulating energy. Land absorbs energy and ice absorbs heat to melt. To get the full picture on global warming, you need to view the Earth’s entire heat content.

    Church et al 2011 extends the analysis of Murphy 2009 which calculated the Earth’s total heat content through to 2003. This new research combines measurements of ocean heat, land and atmosphere warming and ice melting to find that our climate system continued to accumulate heat through to 2008.

    . . .

    Figure 1 also underscores just how much global warming the planet is experiencing. Since 1970, the Earth’s heat content has been rising at a rate of 6 x 1021 Joules per year. In more meaningful terms, the planet has been accumulating energy at a rate of 190,260 gigawatts. Considering a typical nuclear power plant has an output of 1 gigawatt, imagine 190,000 nuclear power plants pouring their energy output directly into our oceans. Our climate is still accumulating heat. Global warming is still happening.

  60. Michael Deutschmann on 2014-02-09 at 01:55:07 said: Biobob, the CO2 level has been monitored since 1958

    So what ? Temperature and rainfall has been monitored (poorly) since 1958 as well. Salby has shown that annual changes (noise) in CO2 “residuals” correspond closely to annual changes in temperature and rainfall. This noise is the result of weather chaos. Others have shown that “global temperatures” have not significantly increased for over 17 years now but CO2 concentrations have continued their rise at similar rates as in the past. We don’t know much about CO2 cycling but what we do know points to the usual effects of basic environmental physics on life: biological processes speed up with higher temps and moisture and decrease with lower temps and drought. Keep in mind that plants essentially produce 100% of free oxygen and dominate CO2 mass balance as a result.

    Take a look at what Salby has discovered:–9I

  61. Manfred Wassmann on 2014-02-09 at 10:21:12 said:
    No they are not. Climate changes occur on earth even naturally, the effect is seen in ice ages and interglacials, like the one we are currently living in, but as mentioned above we should be heading into another ice age.
    You misunderstand the question of time scale. I can change ‘climate’ with the flick of a pen merely by changing the period start and end date. Climate is an arbitrary human construct composed of individual weather events over some arbitrary period. What I am examining are the result of short term global heat engine chaotic changes while you are talking about long term directions and trends.

    My point (actually Murray Salby’s) is that current increase in atmospheric CO2 is apparently the result of short term changes in temperature and rainfall patterns. It says NOTHING about climate. That is another topic entirely. In my opinion, 1970s to 2014 the period with semi-better-accurate data) is not long enough to be ‘climate’ but that is irrelevant.

  62. @Manfred Wassmann “but you can’t simply switch from oil to gas or coal in most cases.”

    Well a switch is simple, or not, depending on the given time. The point is that now there’s plenty of time with regard to resource development. Oil production is growing rapidly in N. America, and US oil consumption is declining.* The combination is on trend to make N. America oil independent at the end of the decade, giving many decades for gas/coal to liquids, or biofuels, or electric vehicles, or the unforseen to slowly replace oil, as coal slowly replaced wood, oil slowly replaced coal and whale oil, etc.


  63. @ Manfred Wassman, et. al. true believers

    It appears that you passionately believe that climate change is a real and imminent danger that will bring about the apocalypse if people don’t wake up and agree with you. May I suggest that we, here at A&D, are not in position to grant you the political power that you will need in order to impose your solution on the rest of humanity. As an alternative, perhaps you can follow in the footsteps of Mataha Gandhi, move to China (the heart of big emissions), and persuade them to make you the next Emperor. If you succeed, this will put a big dent in the problem and demonstrate that you are not just a nagging dilettante.

  64. @TomA:
    > It appears that you passionately believe that climate change is a real and imminent danger that will bring about the apocalypse if people don’t wake up and agree with you.

    sorry, but that is complete bullshit. What we see in this thread is passionate belief in the *non-existance* of climate change, not otherwise. I did not in any way draw an image of imminent danger and apocalypse, it’s the deniers side which emphatically claims there is no such thing as global warming. I just stick to the facts, climate change is there, what it will bring us, I don’t know. That is nothing I worry much about, que sera, sera.

    But simply arguing global warming does not exist is like covering your eyes with your hands and say “No, it’s not there.” That’s a common human method to handle problems you can’t solve, it’s not limited to children.

  65. @ Manfred Wassman – “What we see in this thread is passionate belief in the *non-existance* of climate change”

    In a cosmological sense, everything is changing, always. Only the degree of change is variable, and hence subject to analysis and debate. No one here would argue that change is non-existent. Rather, as others have pointed out, there is a spectrum of opinion about the importance of recent climate change observations. No one here wishes to deny you your right to believe anything at all, but we’ve been down this tedious road with true believers before, and it always ends up with them wanting to impose their will on the rest of us. If you really need something to be concerned about, try focusing on the epidemic of megalomania that is sweeping the world.

  66. @TomA: Thanks for your advice, let me close with my assertion that I don’t deny you or anyone else your right to believe anything you like, not even the non-existence of global warming or climate change. But now I have work to do, go ahead, have fun.

  67. BioBob,

    Plants aren’t the only thing that absorb atmospheric CO2. The oceans take up a lot; in fact the resulting acidification and hostility to complex sea life is the other major disaster caused by human CO2 emissions. Between that, overfishing, and pollution, the ocean is broken.

    Michael Deutschmann,

    Milhouse, the Peak Oil folks are well aware of the fracking boom, but they do not think those wells will produce for long.

    They won’t, if we want decent supplies of fresh water. Fracking consumes massive amounts of water, and more than half of fracking sites are in drought-stricken areas. And then there is the pollution issue…

    The oil peak has come and gone. The U.S. oil boom comes from more-expensive-to-extract unconventional sources, and environmentally hazardous offshore drilling. A “return to the stone age” would be a welcome alternative to the large-scale shitting-where-one-eats that is likely to transpire if our dependence on oil continues apace, and the attendant dieoff.

  68. Jeff Read on 2014-02-09 at 18:30:22 said:
    Plants aren’t the only thing that absorb atmospheric CO2. The oceans take up a lot; in fact the resulting acidification and hostility to complex sea life is the other major disaster caused by human CO2 emissions.
    Jeff, you drink the koolaid.
    1) forget ocean acidification as a meme. The ocean is not acidic and never will be acidic as a result of 350-800 ppm CO2. It is simply not significant and LIFE changes the ocean pH orders of magnitude larger than the carbonic acid ion exchange process. This is the case in daily, seasonal and regional pH changes that can alter local water pH from ~ 8.3 to 9 or 10 as both CO2 and its ionic byproducts are EATEN by ocean life, both plant and animal. Study after lab study has demonstrated that pH changes due to CO2 have no significant impact on ocean life. Almost all ocean life has no problem with pH changes of any type simply because there is so much buffering capacity that mixing quickly eliminates any changes. Ocean life is quite prolific at extremely acidic sulfur “smokers”, for example.

    2) the ocean will absorb more CO2 when life (and geochemical processes) remove CO2 from the water and the opposite. The partial pressure of atmospheric CO2 coupled with temps, etc. ultimately control CO2 flux & equilibrium but we actually know very little about ocean CO2 mass balance. This is a big problem for all those AGW types. Since CO2 in the ocean does not cause a ‘greenhouse effect’ we can ignore it except as an input to the atmospheric system. Actually, we can safely ignore CO2 caused ‘greenhouse effect’ as well since water vapor is an order of magnitude or 2 more important. And that is the reality.

    At any rate, plants suck so much CO2 out of the atmosphere that CO2 is now less than half of one percent of the atmosphere vs 21% oxygen produced by plants. Clearly plants are now in control of CO2 mass balance.

  69. @BioBob: “Actually, we can safely ignore CO2 caused ‘greenhouse effect’ as well since water vapor is an order of magnitude or 2 more important. And that is the reality.”

    Yes, but that is not all of the reality. Down close to the surface water vapor so dominates that it completely blocks some bands of infrared re-radiation from the surface, and nearly all outward bound heat transfer is by convection/conduction. In those conditions adding any more green house gas does little. But water vapor is not present everywhere in the atmosphere. At altitude and in other conditions CO2 *does* redirect outward bound infrared radiation.

    The general power forcing by the increased CO2 in the atmosphere of a couple Watts or so is undisputed now by even most skeptical of anyone who really knows the science. The significant point is that CO2 forcing by itself really doesn’t matter, does almost nothing of consequence which is also largely undisputed. The argument lies with the feedbacks (clouds, etc), and now report after report is returning the conclusion that feed backs have been overstated.

    See, e.g. Fred Singer:

  70. Falstaff on 2014-02-10 at 10:59:06 said: Yes, but that is not all of the reality.

    Excuse me !! Did I say that CO2 had no effect ? Nope. I said we could safely ignore it.
    Earth is not about to turn into a cinder from the presence of CO2 at 400+ ppm vs 350 ppm. It didn’t when CO2 was supposedly 2000 ppm so why should it now ? Life on earth is essentially the same as it has been for the past 600 million years so why should it be any different now ? So please spare us the idiotic drama.

    It’s all about the NUMBERS. CO2 has a limited effect that decreases in impact as it increases and it’s effects are dwarfed by those of water in the atmosphere. In any case, we do NOT control the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and pretending that we do is asinine. That is all. Humans are insignificant except in our own minds. Deal with it.

  71. @Biobob –

    I took exception only to the given *reason*, “since water vapor is…”. Water vapor does act as you say, but that is *not* the reason CO2 sensitivity has been found so limited, nor will you find any such explanation in a scientific reference. As you say, deal with it.

  72. Actually, the behavior of water has ALWAYS been the reason why the effects of CO2 are so limited, especially given how little of CO2 there is due to plants:

    1) Water vapor essentially absorbs and re-radiates the same wavelengths as CO2 and there is generally an order of magnitude more of it in the atmosphere
    2) Clouds (water droplets) can also absorb and re-radiate essentially ALL solar energy (albedo effects, etc.) and CO2 can not.
    3) thru whatever more, etc.

    Trying to puff up the importance of CO2 in global energy cycles has ALWAYS been straining at gnats. A butterfly flapping it’s wings supposedly can cause a hurricane, but worrying about it is absurd. Same as CO2 and all other trivia.

  73. 1) Yes, almost two orders of magnitude more water vapor. But i) there are differences in the absorption spectrum, and ii) water vapor concentrates close to the surface and and in well above zero temperatures. Of course at higher altitudes, in arid climates, and at below freezing temps there’s little or no water vapor, but CO2 is still ~380 ppm.

    2) Yep, clouds seem to have a large role in temperature stabilization, but water droplets are not water vapor, i.e. not a gas.

  74. > Hey, all you AGW idiots? It would be nice if we could actually have some global warming…?

    (You’ll never approve this out of the mod queue, but maybe you’ll read it.)

Leave a Reply to LS Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *