The global CO2 rise: the facts, Exxon and the favorite denial tricks?

A recent slightly dodgy RC post from Stephan triggered my knee-jerk. It is about knocking back, yet again, the stupid denialist idea that the recent CO2 rise could possibly be natural. That's all fine, of course, anyone discussing GW with those not really capable of thought comes across this idea; I can find myself mentioning it back in 2005, and I'm sure I did so earlier too.

No, the dodgy bit is "How Exxon misled the public against better knowledge: One fascinating question is where this false idea of humans just contributing a tiny bit to the relentless rise in atmospheric CO2 has come from? Have a look at this advertorial (a paid-for editorial) by ExxonMobil in the New York Times from 1997...".

As Stephan says, of the advertorial, "That is pretty clever and could hardly be an accident. The impression is given that..." but the same can be said of his post "That is pretty clever and could hardly be an accident. The impression is given that Exxon originated this idea; but no evidence is presented." Stephan is a good scientist and knows the difference between showing X said a thing and showing that X originated a thing.

Aanyway, the point is: I had a look back and can't now from this distance find where the idea comes from. It was certainly common stupid currency in the Usenet days. I probably saw it before 1997, but don't actually know.

Ah. If I look back to What I said about Exxon I can find Lee Raymond talking drivel, in 1997. As I said then "We've had this before on sci.environment. Steve Hales should certainly know better than to post rubbish like this. Raymond may not know better, but he should have enough expensive advisors who should be able to tell him better. I can only conclude that he (Raymond) is deliberately trying to mislead."


* Yet more Exxon drivel
The Weekend Wonk: Growing Legal Wolfpack Hunting Oil Industry on Climate, Corruption
* RS suggests a dry ice palace
So, this equality of wages lark then - Timmy


I babble in an unknown tongue

I was turning over certain rowing-related matters in my mind today, and chanced upon a memory:
“What are your fees?" inquired Guyal cautiously. 
"I respond to three questions," stated the augur. "For twenty terces I phrase the answer in clear and actionable language; for ten I use the language of cant, which occasionally admits of ambiguity; for five, I speak a parable which you must interpret as you will; and for one terce, I babble in an unknown tongue.”
Vance, of course. I discover that I've had occasion to use this before; once every five years is not unreasonable. It may be convenient to write it here, not connected to other blog-related matters, so I have.


* There's no light the foolish can see better by.
A Case for Repealing All Antitrust Legislation - CH of course, but touches on the way conventional economics is equilibrium
* From Ronald Coase‘s 1972 article “Industrial Organization: A Proposal for Research”]
The variability diet - VV


WATN: Trump

In Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight / Where ignorant armies clash by night I made some brilliantly prescient predictions on how Trump's presidency was likely to go. But my overall prediction was "minor". I'm still defending that for now; wake me up when the nukes start falling. Regrettably, it looks like I got "Opposition" spot-on.

I was going to attempt a review of economist's reviews, but got bored at one but I liked it, so: Trump's Mixed Report Card - Richard A. Epstein at the Hoover Institute starts As we come to the end of 2017, it is perhaps appropriate to take stock of the ups and downs of the Trump presidency. For progressives, this is a simple calculation. They despise the man and his policies, so it is easy for them to mount a full-scale denunciation of both. Many populists admire the man for his bravado and have a guarded acceptance of his policies, so their sentiments run in the opposite direction, which most people will sign up to. Of his own assessment, For classical liberals like me, however, the calculations become difficult. The bad news is the man. The good news is his administration. The overall picture is a tricky composite. The President’s oft-manifested indifference to managing the executive branch allows his able subordinates to work diligently to undo many of the misguided initiatives of the Obama administration and to propose useful reforms. But the moment the president gets involved, anything can happen.

On the "minor" note, I put forward as an example Trump-appointed regulators reject plan to rescue coal and nuclear plants (arch). This was a witty and amusing attempt to feed some subsidies to the coal folk. I thought it was quite funny the way everyone reacted to the very idea that anything other than things that they like could possibly be subsidised. But, after a pile of words and much wasted time and effort, it all comes to nothing.

As I said in Dover BeachAll the stories about Trump deleting data will turn out to be nonsense. All the people squirrelling data away will look stupid, and will do their best to quietly forget they ever did it or suggested it, or pretend it never happened. The second bit of that certainly hasn't happened; CHANGING THE DIGITAL CLIMATE (h/t MM via fb) is more of the same. Does it, conversely, prove me wrong? Not obviously. I didn't read the entire thing - obviously - but the Key Findings start with The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) removal and subsequent ongoing overhaul of its climate change website raises strong concerns about loss of access to valuable information for state, local, and tribal governments, and for educators, policymakers, and the general public. So I think I'm entitled to assume that's important for them. And if you follow that section you find "The most significant reduction in access to an agency’s climate change information occurred when..." so yeah, this is key for them. But then reading on I can't find any actual real datasets that have been removed. Can you? I'm not interested in stuff like them removing "Student’s Guide to Global Climate Change" which was probably pointless anyway; just read Global Warming (why must everyone have their own wheel?).

May / Brexit

This is a convenient place for me to quote the Economist about how useless Theresa May is: Theresa May adds a botched reshuffle to her growing list of botches The prime minister’s latest failure to relaunch confirms her as an unsafe pair of hands... her most conspicuous defect—the fact that she had never knowingly said anything of any interest about anything... her biggest problem is more fundamental: she doesn’t have any ideas... Mrs May is locked in place, because her party is terrified of provoking a civil war over Brexit. And booting out the Tories would mean electing an opposition that has been captured by a neo-Marxist clique.


* A Rough Guide to Climbing at Dover
The one-year-old Trump presidency - the Economist is not keen on him either.
* No discredit where none is due: Donald Trump’s economic policy has not been as bad as expected: Meanwhile, the economy is booming - the Economist.
* Has President Trump Been Very Consequential?David Henderson- econlog; points to Inside the new trade arguments Trump is hearing.
* Ha ha told you so: Buzzfeed pretty well admits I'm right. fb'd by MM, too.
That GOP 'tax scam' is putting money in millions of workers' pockets.
Trump's Punt On Fake News Awards: In The End, He's Got Nothing.
* Yet another end-of-year-one assessment.
Bombardier wins fight against huge tariffs on aircraft imports
* Carbon Monitoring Restored in Congress, for Now. May 19, 2018


tumblr_p1a1ggkHGW1rqxd5ko5_1280 Inspired by CIP's ventures into philosophy (see also my insightful comment) I thought I would share my little project to improve the "dialectic" article on wiki. Regular readers will know my hatred of wanky philosophical words that I don't really understand, and "dialectic" is one of them. Partly because it seems to have a different meaning for every person that uses it. But! I think I have now become enlightened - on this issue at least - and have decided to share my enlightenment.

This is a link to the state of the article as I found it. Before touching it I threatened to improve it, but no-one responded, so I've made it better. If you prefer you can look at the diff.

Ironically, perhaps, the dictionary definition was most helpful in resolving the problem. So the answer is threefold:

1. Any formal system of reasoning that arrives at a truth by the exchange of logical arguments.

Or, put another way, hardly to be distinguished from discussion, except we emphasise rationality and put aside appeals to emotion (and we'll quietly forget that many of the actual Socratic dialogues don't do this). This I think is part of my annoyance with the philosophers: adding a word that can only just be distinguished from a commonplace word, so as to make their sentences more high falutin'; and then failing to distinguish different meanings of their shiny new word carefully.

2. A contradiction of ideas that serves as the determining factor in their interaction.

This is the Hegelian version. Subtly, the concept of evolution or process has come in; in that things start in one state and end in another. Quite exactly what it means is up for grabs; if you believe Popper it allows contrary ideas to stand and is thus the death of reason; if you're an Hegel fanboi it will mean something subtly different; as you can tell I'm not a great fan of big H. But that's OK; my purpose on wiki was mostly to distinguish things.

3. A progress of conflict, especially class conflict.

This is the Marxist version. TBH I'm still not entirely sure what it is, but I think it just takes the "process" idea and runs with it; the connection with the original meaning has become rather tenuous at this point.

There's another point - which I'm not fully sure of - which is that dialectic doesn't fit well with formal logic. The arguments can all be logical, of course, but it relies on a process of evolution, whereas logic is timeless. Anyone able to explicate that more clearly - or refute it - is welcome to try.

And there you have it. If you have any interest, or even philosophical training, I encourage you to improve the wiki article too. As long as you agree with me, of course.


* Jesus and Mo.
* A Brief on Alt-Right Ideology - Hegel - By Jeffrey A. Tucker


Another Koch-Up

kochup Proof - in the unlikely event that proof were needed - of the Ultimate Evil that is the Kochs (Koch-Up / Cock-Up. Geddit? Oh of course you do, don't be so po-faced) is contained in this screen-grab of a Tweet (archive). The offending text - I presume, JB is too outraged to say explicitly what offends him - is the bit about interglacials lasting 10 kyr and so the current one must be due to end. This isn't true, of course; but the error is a commonplace one. Tagging it to the Koch's is just paranoia and stupidity. It comes into the "global cooling" wars of course; so much that wiki even has some text explaining itIt is common to see it asserted that the length of the current interglacial temperature peak is similar to the length of the preceding interglacial peak (Sangamon/Eem), and from this conclude that we might be nearing the end of this warm period. This conclusion is mistaken. Firstly, because the lengths of previous interglacials were not particularly regular;[10] see figure. Petit et al. note that "interglacials 5.5 and 9.3 are different from the Holocene, but similar to each other in duration, shape and amplitude. During each of these two events, there is a warm period of 4 kyr followed by a relatively rapid cooling". Secondly, future orbital variations will not closely resemble those of the past. [11]

I'm guessing this is where ATTP's latest comes from; it is too much of a coincidence otherwise.


* Contrary views at WUWT by RS.
* The climate change misinformation at a top museum is not a conservative conspiracy - the Verge; h/t anon in the comments.


Global SST, WWII, global cooling, and forgetting

One of the things that made global cooling plausible was the observed temperature record although you have to be a bit wary, when talking about what people thought in the 1970s, because of course the record they had available then wasn't as good as the one we have now. But anyway, as you can see from that pic, the "cooling" from the 1940s to the 1970s was more of a plateau, coupled with a peak during WWII (insofar as it makes any sense to talk about a record in that way).

This was always a bit problematic, but in 2008 quite a bit of it disappeared, when A large discontinuity in the mid-twentieth century in observed global-mean surface temperature (Thompson et al., Nature 453, 646–649 (29 May 2008) doi:10.1038/nature06982) appeared; also known as "Post-World War II cooling a mirage". I noticed this at the time; and JA was characteristically caustic; but other than making the modelling easier it didn't really have much consequence and I don't know quite how it got folded into the records. Not very much, I suppose, since I've just pointed you to a recent record with the same problem in it.

And now, Kevin Cowtan, Robert Rohde, Zeke Hausfather have discovered the same thing. At least, it looks very much like the same thing. Sou notices the new stuff, but doesn't refer to the old. Cowtan's blog explainer doesn't mention "Thompson". The paper itself does: "(Thompson et al. 2008) detected an inhomogeneity in the sea surface temperature record arising from a change in the shipping fleet at the end of World War 2 by comparison of sea surface temperatures to temperatures from coastal weather stations and from climate models".


On its hundredth birthday in 1959, Edward Teller warned the oil industry about global warming?

Or so sez the Graun. The substance of this comes from some long-lost words from Energy and Man: A Symposium, held in 1959, apparently published in 1960. It looks like it would cost me $25 to actually read this, and my guess is that it will be a flash in the pan, so I'll have to reply on quotes from the Graun and one customer review from Amazon. That helpfully provides some context, so I'll quote from it:

the third speech beginning on page 53 in the middle of the book is of particular note. It was given by the real-life Dr. Strangelove, Dr. Edward Teller of thermonuclear bomb fame. His title was to be "Energy Patterns of the Future" and he spent most of his speech extolling the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and begging the public to allow nuclear research to continue until a truly clean fusion energy could be developed. He also foresaw the possibility of using readily-available nuclear explosives for large earth-moving jobs like canal and harbor creation, and underground explosions to break up or make impermeable rock formations to redirect water flows below the surface, and even considered mining the residual heat of deep underground nuclear explosions as geothermal energy. On pages 67-68 he even suggested using nuclear explosions for strip-mining oil shales or tar sands, and for underground fracking operations to release tight oil! But it was on pages 56-58 at the beginning of his speech that was most impressive/distressing. There, he clearly presented global warming, then newly researched by the Scripps Institute, as the main reason that nuclear research needed to progress.

So, this was Teller. Oddly enough, his main interest was in pushing nukes. He did present something about CO2 but - and I'm slightly guessing here - only because it pushed his favourite button, the big red one. Oddly enough the Graun's author Benjamin Franta, a PhD student in history of science at Stanford University doesn't consider that little detail worth mentioning.

OK, enough of that, "what did Teller actually warn us about CO2?", I hear you cry. And the answer is:

It has been calculated that a temperature rise corresponding to a 10 per cent increase in carbon dioxide will be sufficient to melt the icecap and submerge New York

Pretty devastating, huh? The Graun, as you'd expect, then segues into the usual "but the oil companies didn't listen, you know". Though for some odd reason they manage to avoid #exxonknew (I put it here for my own purposes so that searches will work). But, there are two obvious problems. The first is that although the Graun carefully sets this up as breathlessly secret stuff revealed only to the Oil industry, of course it wasn't: the symposium report was published publically. And of course wherever Teller got his wacky numbers from was probably public too: the Amazon review says Scripps.

But more importantly, he was wrong. +10% CO2 isn't enough to submerge New York or melt "the icecap" (whatever he meant by "the icecap". Greenland? Antarctica? Who knows). At least, not within a plausible timeframe. We're already at most of a 50% increase, and even that isn't enough - well, not yet. What should governments and oil companies have done when faced with new information that appeared to indicate a potential problem? Well, what you obviously shouldn't do is to rush to action in a panic because some famous and eminent person in a scientific field not particularly closely related to the issue at hand tells you to. Any more than you should pay much attention to Freeman Dyson when off on one of his rants about GW. Instead, you should consider the issue and if warranted start proper study of the issue (this starts to go wrong about following IPCC One, when the results start coming in but the policy doesn't; but that is all in the future at this point).

It is useful to be aware of, say, Spencer Weart / the AIP's "discovery of global warming" timeline.


* Update: 2018/11: Early oil industry knowledge of CO2 and global warming - by Franta, in Nature; via Twitter.