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  1. 2015 SkS Weekly News Roundup #17B

    I would think, given the currently very odd trajectory of Arctic sea ice as of the 24th of April , that more questions would best be avoided by the Abbott Government at this point in time.

    Tony Abbott can't even answer questions about the NBN- how is he going to explain the very odd trajectory of Arctic sea ice undermining his every stammering slogan?

    When do we hear from Lomborg about this Arctic sea ice thing and how best Australian tax-payer dollars are spent on avoiding what looks like a very bad trend from getting worse?

  2. Lomborg: a detailed citation analysis

    Tom Curtis

    I am not saying that being wrong in science is a problem. Its not. In fact it normally leads to better understanding and a science that is more robust. I am also not saying that the h index is not an important measure to determine the credentials of professional academics. I was being devil's advocate in suggesting a SLC (safe level of carbon dioxide) index for those who enter the climate change argument. While the h index should be enough amongst professional academics to assess credentials, it does not help those outside academia in assessing credentials. Some form of SLC index would at least inform outsiders about the merits and positions of the various advocates. Or perhaps some CSC (Climate Science Credibility) credential based on the Consensus Project might be more useful in assessing climate scientists. Again I am being devil's advocate. Amongst climate science commentators, there is a huge difference in climate science credentials between the likes of Andrew Bolt, Richard Lindzen, Ian Plimer, Bob Carter, David Karoly, James Hansen, Judith Curry, Al Gore, Tim Flannery, Bjorn Lomborg and the various scientists who regularly contribute to sites like SkS. Unfortunately, for outsiders, there is a lot of noise which is hard to penetrate and creates doubt that allows any politically motivated denier to drive a truck through the arguments. There needs to be a simpler measure for the wider public to make an assessment as to the quality of what is being claimed. After all, those who believe the level of CO2 is not the key issue in the whole debate probably should not be given any credibity in the discussion. Because at the moment, we are right on track to release the CO2 that was naturally sequestored in the Earth's crust over millions of years in a little over 300 years putting CO2 levels not seen since the dinosaurs. Now anyone suggesting that this is a good thing needs to have their arguments closely scrutinised.  

  3. Lomborg: a detailed citation analysis

    We don't have to see him determine anything.

    What does one mean by 'science is too linear'? What does one mean by 'open minded'? What is a 'sincere alternative argument'?

    Who pays for these Universities and why do they exist again?

    Science is only method... madness is everything else!

  4. Lomborg: a detailed citation analysis

    I have to be heretic once again: Admitting that most commenters here are better informed, write better than I, and are more rigorous in their arguments, it still seems Bjorn Lomborg makes a valuable contribution to the discussion. This means that science minded people have to be more open to sincere alternative arguments. Not denying that Lomborg has compromised motivations due to the funding of his institute, who does not have funding issues? The whole excessive concern with h-rating is an indication with the lack of a good index by which to gage value of communications. There is value in communications other than scientifically sanctioned papers. We just don’t have a good way of appreciating these. Science is too linear, by necessity. The arguments about climate change are global, even on the scientific side. That is why the models are so hard to pin down. When we consider economic, social, urban architecture (the dumb car city), political, market, and infrastructural inertia, and so many other issues which Lomborg tires to get at, we can see value that he brings to the table.

    So, yes, he is an asset to a faculty. How much, we will have to see, and he will have to determine.

  5. Lomborg: a detailed citation analysis

    mancan18, there is no problem with being wrong in science.  By the nature of what they do, scientists must be wrong a good percentage of the time.  If not, they are not properly exploring the issues.  What is not acceptable in a scientist is being wrong in uninteresting ways - ie, in a way that can be refuted by current knowledge, that does not require further research to show that you are wrong.  If that is the case in a given paper, it will generate very few responses, and no citations (other then self citations) and consequently have a very low citation number.  

    The advantage of the h index is that you can publish a thousand papers each with 2 citations and it will not lift your h index above 2.  Therefore being consistently wrong in uninteresting ways will not generate a high h index.  And being consistently wrong in interesting ways means you are a productive scientist.

  6. Lomborg: a detailed citation analysis

    Peter Lloyd @17, Lomborg has just been granted 4 million dollars by a government that claims to be in a budgetary crisis.  That crisis has been sufficient to justify, in the governments opinion, the defunding of a Climate Science advisory body, to introduce massive cuts to Australia's premier research body (CSIRO), and to try to introduce cuts to university funding in general.  Further, the grant was not initiated by a university, or by application to Australia's academic grants body (the Australian Research Council).  It was not even initiated by the Minister of Education.  Rather, it was initiated in the Prime Ministers office.

    Given that the grant was an endrun around normal methods to ensure research quality, it is reasonable to ask what sort of research quality can we expect.  The h index gives an indirect measure of research quality, and by that indirect measure it is shown that Lomborg's "research" is effectively non-existent (only 7 papers to show for almost 20 years research) and of very low quality (h-index of 4, h-index of climate related papers of 0).  On this basis, and given the political nature of the grant, it is reasonable to conclude that Lomborg is being given the money for what he says, not for how he backs it up.

    Pointing that out is not playing the man.

  7. PhilippeChantreau at 12:18 PM on 26 April 2015
    Lomborg: a detailed citation analysis

    Peter Lloyd, you're wrong. This is entirely about Lomborg's work. It is about his publications, how much they have been cited, how relevant they are to the debate. It is about how misleading and how damaging his work has been. The comment just above is about the miserable lack of knowledge demonstrated in chapters of Lomborgs book in which Daniel has expertise. The comment above that one says nothing about the person and is somewhat off topic. The previous one (16) states that Lomborg leans a certain way in the debate considered and was likely chosen because of that. How does it attack the person? Lomborg advertises his convictions loud enough that stating them here is hardly a personal attack. The previous comment (15) argues the merits of the entire premise behind Lomborg's argument and others similar in reasoning. Above that we are a little more on topic, which is Lomborg's true qualifications for the position he was awarded. These are a rather objective matter, especially when considered through the normal means used to assess such qualifications. One can be whoefully unqualified for something and still be a nice person. Stating that they are not qualified does not constitute a personnal attack. Your statement has no basis whatsoever.

  8. Daniel J. Andrews at 08:11 AM on 26 April 2015
    Lomborg: a detailed citation analysis

    Lomborg's book The Skeptical Environmentalist was most emphatically not peer-reviewed. If it had been peer-reviewed, they would have demanded rewrites to correct his numerous errors and misconceptions and his dead-end citations. Some of his chapters fell into my area of expertise. They were pitifully erroneous on different levels (actual factual errors, misunderstandings of facts and ideas, incorrect citations, misrepresentation of definitions and current knowledge). He wasn't quite as bad as the "evolution is just a theory" level of ignorance, but he certainly was still wading around in the ignorance pool even if not standing in the deep end.

  9. Lomborg: a detailed citation analysis

    WheelsOC, I know a SCL index would clearly indicate where you/they stand, but that is the whole point. It seems climate deniers can make all sorts of outrageous claims, yet never have to justify their stance, scientifically, and are able to remain non-commital about what they think should be a "safe" level that we allow the CO2 level to rise to.

    Now I'm no climate scientist, I'm a mathematician, but from all the articles from bona bona fide climate scientists that I've read and evidence and adverse effects that I have gone through particularly the paleoclimate evidence, I think it is about time we were seriously trying to reduce emissions, because further increases, particularly at current and increasing rates, are leading us into some pretty adverse territory and the unknown. Waiting for certainty, as the climate deniers seem to advocate, although it is not a valid scientific position to take, is most likely bite us in ways that we probably haven't imaged yet. Because, sure as eggs, the Earth's climate system, although we are gaining a greater understanding of its processes, will still have some surprises for us that we probably won't like.

    At the moment all we have are indications, and what we do know for certain is that over the last century or so; CO2 levels have increased 40% due to burning fossil fuels and other human activity; average global temperatures have risen about 0.8 degrees celsius; the ocean level has risen about 20 cm; polar ice is slowly retreating; storms seem to be intensifying; seasons seem to be slightly out of kilter; the tropical and temperate climate zones seem to be slowly advancing towards the poles while the polar zone seems to be contracting slightly; and some species are thriving while others go extinct; and none of this appears to be from natural causes, like the sun increasing its activity; and all of this is happening at rates unknown in the paleoclimate record and will most certainly have some fairly serious economic and social impacts, despite Lomborg's assurance that it's all Ok. I for one think we should reduce the use of and stop using fossil fuels. Hopefully Paris will provide a political framework, but I don't have too much faith that it will happen.

    It is time to expose the political nature of the climate deniers arguments and have them justify their position scientifically and economically rather than climate scientists having to defend themselves all the time from their mostly scientifically (and economically) inane arguments. Perhaps, then there will be proper scientific debates and research centres like Lomberg's government funded centre will become a centre for serious scientific (and economic) discussion rather than some sophisticated marketing exercise. I tend to suspect that Lomberg's centre will only attract like minded people and not be truly representive of the greater climate change debate.

  10. Changes in water vapor and clouds are amplifying global warming

    Kevin Trenberth has the dubious honour of belonging to a select cadre of scientists, i.e. those whose words have been most widely and wildly misconstrued by fake sceptics. 

    Those unfamiliar with the "travesty" story may care to look at an SkS article from December 2009 which provides a background. 

  11. Lomborg: a detailed citation analysis

    You might notice that you are attacking the man rather than the work. I thought Skeptical Science didn't do that.

  12. Permafrost feedback update 2015: is it good or bad news?

    I wish there were some good news to report, but I would nonetheless urge everyone to read Robert McSweeney's latest piece at The Carbon Brief. He reports on a new paper in Nature Geoscience (which I have only so far skimmed, myself) that predicts that the terrestrial carbon sink will turn into a source by the end of the century, because the limited supply of nitrogen and phosphorous nutrients in soils will be insufficient to allow the increased plant growth from CO2 fertilization predicted in current Earth System models.

    If I have read the paper correctly (that's a big "if") a terrestrial carbon sink of 140 +/- 240 PgC assumed in current RCP8.5 models could instead turn into a net carbon source. (Note that the error bars are very large.)

    If so, that effect could be as big as--and additional to--the permafrost emissions reported above.

  13. Permafrost feedback update 2015: is it good or bad news?

    Billthefrog, thanks.

    I can't speak to what the scientific community currently thinks about the imminent catastrophic release of methane from clathrates. I'm not part of the reseach community in this area and I can only rely upon what I read in the literature. The IPCC considers the risk by 2100 to be "very unlikely" (Chapter 12 Table 12.4 ).

    My own opinion, for what it is worth, is firmly with David Archer and Carolyn Ruppel. Of all the vulnerable stores in the Arctic clathrates, being deep in the ocean or deep below permafrost are, quite literally, the best insulated against future warming. Methane released from the ocean-floor clathrates, moreover, will tend to be consumed by bugs at the ocean floor or dissolved and oxidised in the seawater and will mostly not get into the atmosphere. (See Ruppel's excellent piece in Nature.)

    This does not mean that hydrates should not be a concern (even the IPCC with its "very unlikely" grants a 5-10% probability of this happening this century). Over longer terms, centuries and millennia, carbon release from hydrates will certainly provide  a big new source of carbon to the surface that will prolong and perhaps worsen the climatic effects of 20th and 21st Century human emissions.

    The persistence of the imminent clathrate bomb ideas seems to rely on the idea that there are huge metastable deposits of methane clathrates lying around very close to the surface on the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS). There is no evidence for the presence of these deposits either from sampling or geophysics. Furthermore, what we know about the physical chemistry of clathrates tells us that they should not exist at those depths and conditions.

    I will end by noting that in Shakhova et al.'s recent paper on methane release on the ESAS, the terms "hydrate"  is used only once, in a general sense in the body of the text and "clathrate" not at all. (i.e.,"Among Arctic reservoirs, subsea permafrost, hydrates, and associated CH4 deposits are the most worrisome owing to high heat transfer from rapidly warming shallow Arctic seas"). I have no idea why this is so: it could be that the authors themselves no longer think exposed hydrates on the ESAS are worthy of mention or if the reviewers of the paper insisted that shallow hydrates therenot be referred to without evidence that they exist. In any case, it is unlikely to be an oversight.

  14. Permafrost feedback update 2015: is it good or bad news?


    Thanks for the very informative article.

    Can I ask a question concerning the level of credence that is currently being given to the views of Peter Wadhams - and his colleagues on the Arctic Methane Emergency Group - as they pertain to this very topic? As far as I can tell from my (very) limited viewpoint, he seems to represent the more apocalyptic end of the clathrate release spectrum, with, perhaps, David Archer at the other. There was an SkS article about 2 years ago by Chris Colose which seemed to suggest this divergence in viewpoint, but I don't know if perspectives within the broad scientific community have changed much in the interim.

    I know that PW went very much out on a limb when he expressed the view that September levels of Arctic Sea Ice could be effectively gone by 2015. (He had elsewhere suggested the figure might be 2016 +/- 3 years, but, since we're in 2015, let's go with that version.) Not many people bought into this particular scenario, and, let's not be coy about this, it did provide a pretty soft target for the "it's not happening" brigade. The "official" AMEG line has softened (unsurprisingly) since PW made his claim back in 2012, and now simply states that...

    "The tipping point for the Arctic sea ice has already passed"

    However, and rather confusingly, about 2 lines further down on the AMEG home page, it goes on to state that...

    "The meltdown is accelerating and could become unstoppable as early as Sept 2015"

    Now, just because PW took an extreme view on Arctic Sea Ice, that doesn't necessarily brand him forevermore as "the boy who cried 'wolf!'" Hence my question about whether his views on methane release are still considered pretty extreme, or whether they're merely at the other end of a perfectly feasible probability range.

    Cheers    Bill F

  15. Medieval Warm Period was warmer

    I'd say it's less about trust than cherry-picking on the part of the "people."  People for whom critical thinking is not a matter of habit are going to cherry-pick the field of information according to what makes them comfortable.  These people aren't trying to put together an understanding of the situation.  I talk regularly with people who claim, all at the same time, that 1) climate has changed before, 2) it's been much hotter in the past, and 3) climate science is a fraud. (and how do we know about the past?  Climate scientists — the same ones who are telling you that AGW is, in fact, quite real.)  The information is not being put together into a coherent picture, and there's no desire to do so.  The desire is to surround oneself with claims that block responsibility--responsibility for current activity and for future activity.  Trust means going to sources that tell you what you want to hear (in the name of freedom).  

    When people hear that the MWP exists, they have a range of possible responses.  
    1. Those climate scientists are hiding stuff.
    2. How warm was the MWP?
    3. What was the cause of the MWP?
    4. Really?  I think I'll go check it out on Wiki and google scholar.
    5. So? Stop talking to me about stupid crap. I'm trying to get into the game.

    It would be less easy to automatically go with no. 1 if climate science communication wasn't primarily defensive.  Sources that misrepresent the science are not legally bound in the US to represent the science accurately.  Thus, we have some very good, very well-paid rhetoricians who frame the message in the most effective way.  The sources don't simply point to Al Gore not talking about the MWP; instead, they create a narrative of persistent deceit, and they can do that because very few sources put together the actual science into a narrative, the narrative that scientists see.  It's simply too complex for the general public.  There will always be little bits of information that don't get included, bits that can be re-framed and blown out of proportion by experts.  The so-called "climategate" is an excellent example, and it revealed the willingness of the "people" to jump all over anything that suited their interests, even while just a tiny effort toward critical thinking would have revealed the absurdity of the whispered claims.

    The MWP is a good example for another reason.  All due respect to Mike Mann, but his multi-proxy record of the last 1000 years of surface temperature is not fundamental to the theory of anthropogenic global warming.  It's important, but one cannot work backward from it to confirm or refute the basic physical foundation of the theory, regardless of the accuracy of the work.  Yet that is precisely what "denier" opinion shapers claim. At every step, they push the logic that one alleged inaccuracy causes a breakdown of the entire theory.  The details are irrelevant; the logic is the message.  It is the logic of doubt, the logic that says "You're right: you don't need to try to understand this, because everyone has an agenda, and you're never going to get good information."

    In this sense, people "trust" Rush Limbaugh, but not blindly.  They trust him until he rubs up against their own expertise and experience.  And if he's just plain dumb where their expertise goes, it doesn't transfer to the stuff they don't know anything about.  As long as his message is about not being responsible for the woes of others, everything is all good.

    Any why was Mann attacked so ferociously?  Because he scored a rhetorical home run with his graphed results.  Easy to understand.  No one puts an attack on Lacis et al. 2012 in front of the general public.  It's a fine publication, and works through the fundamentals in a readable way, but it didn't produce any easy-to-get visuals.  Once you see the 'hockey stick' graph, it can't be unseen, and so denierville's experts have to attack, attack, attack.  Same thing happened to Marcott et al. 2013.  They shape public opinion, and, given the enormous amount of money going into the opinion shaping campaign, it's a credit to the people of the US that perhaps only a third of them have fallen for it hook, line, and sinker.

  16. Lomborg: a detailed citation analysis


    As well as the h-index, perhaps climate scientist credentials should also be determined by a SCL index, (Safe CO2 Level Index) as well, in which they are required to clearly state, with supporting scientific evidence, the CO2 level that they deem as "safe", while not adversely impacting the planet. Also, as a part of the index, they should be required to justify the economic and political approach needed in order to limit CO2 emissions to the level that they propose.

    I wouldn't support that, it's too much like a test of ideological commitment even if the post is to head up a "policy research center." The real issue is getting a rough metric of their relevant research expertise and experience.

    The most important factor here is whether the person being given a department to oversee actually has the academic chops to serve as a credible head based on their active involvement in the field. The problem here is that it appears someone's being given the position because of the flavor of their sideline critiques.

    Just as you wouldn't pick a new coach to head your team simply because they yelled the words you wanted to hear from their spot in the bleachers, you don't set up an expensive new "policy research center" on the back of somebody who's barely done any legitimate research, and of apparently low quality at that. You want somebody with an outstanding record of participation in forming our understanding of the issue. Setting up an arbitary "what should we do?" test right off the bat is not really much better than picking people based on their propensity to boo the other team.

    If you desire a true research center for generating policy solutions, having them outline their existing idea as a test of fitness seems like filtering for what you want to hear rather than allowing the solutions to arise from any genuine developments in the research.

  17. It hasn't warmed since 1998

    @ 338, hot water doesn't rise: because it is energised and is relatively free to move due to its liquid state it moves in random directions allowing cold water to sink through it which conversely is moving in basically only one direction- that being down.

    Is this density? I suppose it is!

    The concept of hot water rising is not correct, apparently, though there is a concept called "Flotation": but the reality is a warmer body of water is spreading out due to it's more energetic state and if a cooler body of water happens to be sitting on top it will fall through it due to gravity having a stronger influence over the colder waters behaviour.

    Of course the warm water is not sinking: heat energy doesn't belong anywhere- it moves from one object to another unlike the quantity we call mass which stays with the object being considered. (I forget the name for this idea..) When the heat energy moves out of the body of water you have under consideration (this is why dashed lines are drawn around things: it's called a system boundary and represents the system/body of water you are talking about) then this water will be sinking due to gravity.

  18. One Planet Only Forever at 01:08 AM on 26 April 2015
    Lomborg: a detailed citation analysis


    My MBA education helps me understand another unacceptable aspect of Lomborg's stories and the tales told by many like him.

    Economic assessments evaluating the cost today to avoid creating more CO2 and comparing those costs (or lost opportunity to benefit), with evaluations of the future costs of the results of increased amounts of excess CO2 are fundamentally flawed.

    The most fundamantal flaw is the presumption that it is legitimate to compare the benefit that would have to be given up by some people among the currrent generation of humanity to avoid creating costs that would be faced by others, particularly future generations of humanity.

    The evaluations done by the likes of Lomborg and Stern (including the US government agencies and so many other 'economic investigators'), are based on the falacy of being able to apply the method of financial evaluations a business entity would make to compare its 'project options' to matters of global humanity. Such overall evaluations of benefit and cost through time are only valid when the same actual people will experience all that is being evaluated. That is not even a valid way of judging the acceptability of a business pursuit that will allow a few to profit or benefit through an action that has negative consequences for others.

    The real evaluation of legitimacy or merit of any human activity is the creation of benefit for others, particularly for future generations. I consider any activity that does not create benefit for humanity into the future to be 'entertainment', an important aspect of life that must be harmless (however, any perception of harm to unacceptable beliefs of some by the enlightenment that can be delivered through entertainment and art is not real harm, it is a benefit).

    Any activity that creates costs for others must have those benefiting do more to provide benefit to those who face the costs than the costs those others face. And the evaluation of the cost the others face and the benefit they receive must be performed by the ones facing the costs, not by the ones wanting the benefit from the activity that will result in the costs to others.

    In addition to the above obvious fundamental flaw of the economic evaluations many perform and report related to excess CO2 and climate change, the way the evaluation is performed can be biased in favour of those among a current generation who want to get away with benefiting from activity that all of humanity cannot develop to enjoy if they wished far into the future. In fact, many of the evaluations will discount future costs using the business Net-Present-Value method of comparing future costs or benefits to current day costs or benefits. That evaluation makes sense for a business comparing its project options, especially if it will borrow money to finance the project, but it is totally inappropriate for comparing costs faced by future generations to the benefits of a current generation. With Net-Present-Value it is possible to discount costs more than 20 years in the future into irrelevance.

    Of course, in addition to all of the above, many of the economic evalutions accidentally or deliberately overstate the lost benefit to the most fortunate in the current generation and understate the future costs.

    So in addition to the science being deliberately attacked and misrepresented by those who want to maximize their personal life's benefits any damaging unacceptable way they can get away with, the economics of the matter are also being significantly misrepresented in efforts to justify the benefits being pursued by the same unacceptable group of people.

  19. Medieval Warm Period was warmer

    Glenn Tamblyn and DSL.  What my point is that what is being discussed here is the wrong "myth".  It's not about people thinking: "The Medieval Warm Period was warmer than current conditions. This means recent warming is not unusual and hence must be natural, not man-made." ... People think something more like... "Oh look, people who talk about global warming pick and choose the data which they tell us about, and omit that which does not support their view so as to make their own view sound more convincing".  Exactly how warm or not the MWP may or may not have been is irrelevant.  Most will never understand the complexities of the issues, this is about trust...

  20. Medieval Warm Period was warmer

    MrN9, it's also going a bit too far to claim that "many in the general public" are concerned about Gore's non-mention of the MWP.  I'd guesstimate that less than 2% of the general adult public knows anything about the MWP/MCA, and most of those people could care less one way or the other.  I ask my first year students (highly selective university) each semester if they can describe how the greenhouse effect works--just the basics.  No more than one or two in 30 gets close.

  21. Lomborg: a detailed citation analysis

    As well as the h-index, perhaps climate scientist credentials should also be determined by a SCL index, (Safe CO2 Level Index) as well, in which they are required to clearly state, with supporting scientific evidence, the CO2 level that they deem as "safe", while not adversely impacting the planet. Also, as a part of the index, they should be required to justify the economic and political approach needed in order to limit CO2 emissions to the level that they propose.

    It seems to me that deniers and skeptics are never challenged to state, in their view,  a "safe" level of CO2, and exactly how much more of the known fossil fuel reserves that we should burn. All they do is sow seeds of doubt and create confusion with the projections and evidence. In other words they run interference. Those who claim to be climate scientists should be made to nail their colours to the mast, so to speak. At least then it will be obvious who they are and where they stand. The trouble with Lomborg and his ilk is that they never clearly state what CO2 level they think is "safe". All they suggest is that it'll all be Ok, it's natural, or that there will be negligible warming, all with little real scientific evidence. All the while, we continue to increase our burning of fossil fuels and hence pump even more CO2 into the atmosphere.

    In other words deniers and skeptics should always be asked how much, when do we stop, and how? Perhaps, these are also good questions for bona fide climate scientists to answer as well.

  22. Glenn Tamblyn at 21:47 PM on 25 April 2015
    Medieval Warm Period was warmer


    "Actually I think more the concern that many in the general public have is that the Medieval Warm Period was not mentioned by Al Gore in his inconvenient truth and that the Medieval Warm Period is usually not mentioned by those pushing global warming"

    Leaving aside that what Al Gore may have said about something or other, which has no relevence, the premise of you argument is that there was a Medieval Warm Period. Given that the topic is Global Warming, the question is - was there a MWP Globally?

    Read the Intermediate rebuttal. Was there actually a MWP? The evidence suggests no.

    So what is your point?

  23. Lomborg: a detailed citation analysis

    thomaswfuller3 @12, are we playing a game of selective quotations?  Here's my move:

    "CUP surely carries an immense responsibility for the misinformation and public
    confusion that Lomborg’s book generated. Just referring to a standard referee
    procedure, as CUP’s employee Harrison (2004) does, is inadequate. Referee
    procedures once in a while may fail in adequately judging the scientific quality of
    a manuscript. It is likely that the reviewers of CUP were impressed by the broad
    perspective, smooth writing style and amount of detail and never bothered to
    systematically check the latter. The overwhelming collection of unusually critical
    reviews by experts (as mentioned in this paper) could have been regarded by CUP as
    an improved, ex post review procedure, and in response the publication decision
    might have been rectified. Nevertheless, the book is anyway sure to go down in
    history as an unreliable source of information and argumentation, being one of the
    most severely criticized texts issued ever by a prestigious academic publisher. Not
    particularly something to be proud of, neither by Lomborg or CUP. To close, the
    following brief statement perhaps best summarizes the Lomborg case:
    ‘‘The greatest regret I have about it all is the time wasted by scientists correcting the
    misinformation you created’’ (E.O. Wilson in a letter addressed to Lomborg (Harvey

    J van den Bergh, Journal of Integrated Environmental Sciences, 2010 (Download)

    Despite the claim that the Skeptial Environmentalist was peer reviewed, it was not a peer reviewed article, and therefore it should not have been included in Lomborg's h index.  It certainly should not have been included multiple times, as must be done to achieve a h index of 21 for Lomborg.

    As to claims that CUP are peer reviewed in any sensible way, that is a proposition I have held in doubt since they began publishing Intelligent Design Creationist tracts.  Until such time as there is an open review of the CUP review process to ensure that their reviewers were  relevantly expert, and were not chosen for a predisposition to pass the book under review, I consider their claims to have properly reviewed such a travesty of a book to be moot.


  24. Medieval Warm Period was warmer

    Apparently the myth is "Medieval Warm Period was warmer

    The Medieval Warm Period was warmer than current conditions. This means recent warming is not unusual and hence must be natural, not man-made." ...

    Actually I think more the concern that many in the general public have is that the Medieval Warm Period was not mentioned by Al Gore in his inconvenient truth and that the Medieval Warm Period is usually not mentioned by those pushing global warming.  I think people see this as selective reasoning or confirmation bias and therfore find it difficult to trust what they are being told. 

  25. Changes in water vapor and clouds are amplifying global warming

    Glenn Tamblyn

    Thanks for putting some numbers to this.  Since clouds do have a cooling effect (although less in a warmer world), would it be possible that if cloud cover was underestimated for the future, then you could still get a net cooling effect.  For example, using your numbers, if equivalent cloud cover was 20% greater, then you would have 66 watts/M2 cooling, and 44.4 watts heating, giving a delta of 21.6 watts/M2 net cooling, which would be greater than the current IPCC value of 20 watts/M2, and therefore a cooling feedback.   It's not that I think this may be a likely scenario, but am just wondering if I am understanding this correctly. 

    I guess a simpler way of putting this would be asking if in the future we were to somehow artificially induce more clouds, would that help cool the planet, with everything else being equal?

  26. thomaswfuller3 at 16:58 PM on 25 April 2015
    Lomborg: a detailed citation analysis

    "we were surprised and disappointed to see the critics' letter being quoted in an issue of Time magazine (2 September 2002)... in which the authors repeated their charge that the book had not been peer-reviewed despite the assurances to the contrary that they had by then received by the press... It has become part of the anti-Lomborg folklore that this book bypassed the usual Cambridge peer-review process... This is a charge that is repeated in many of the public and private attacks in the press, and it is unfounded."


  27. Lomborg: a detailed citation analysis

    Thanks Corey for your good explanation of h-index.

    Is said index realy representative of one's academic credentials? How about quality of cited work? We certainly have plainty of contararians whose work has been 'discredited'. However in order to discredit an article, you need to right another article where you have to cite the non-credible piece. Does such 'discrediting' citation count towards h-index? If so, h-index is not a good credibility measure.

  28. Lomborg: a detailed citation analysis

    It's worth noting also that Dana wrote his papers in his spare time, not as part of his employment.

  29. Lomborg: a detailed citation analysis

    Rob Honeycutt @7, why restrict it to very well known scientists.  From the SkS crew we have Gavin Cawley with 26, Kevin Cowtan with 22, John Abraham with 17.  Obviously the list is not exhaustive.  Of particular interest, it excludes John Cook with 7 and he hasn't even completed his PhD yet.  We even have Dana Nuccutelli who matches Lomborg's H index of 4, albeit with more papers (15 vs 7) , more citations (228 vs 190), is more active (h index of 4 since 2010 vs 0 for Lomborg), and walks all over Lomborg in number and quality of popular articles.  Perhaps he should apply for 4 million dollars from the aussie government for his own consensus center?  He certainly deserves it more than Lomborg.

  30. There's no empirical evidence

    MA Rodger @280:

    "This strongly suggests that the marked trashing of eco-systems over that period has not altered "ecosystem services" to any significant extent on a global scale."


    Indeed, RedBaron's thesis is intrinsically implausible in that it requires biosphere sequestration of CO2 (by an unaltered biosphere) would go from just matching preindustrial LUC (at best) to matching industrial era emissions with a few years lag at most.  It is thoroughly implausible that so sensitive a feedback mechanism would not either act as an inexorable pump of CO2 levels down to far below preindustrial levels, or result in wild fluctuations in CO2 levels on an annual and decadal basis.  As neither has happened, presumably the feedback mechanism is slow, as is indicated by all the data.

    Indeed, that is what we should expect.  In principle, the Net Ecosystem Productivity (ie, the rate of Carbon sequestration) of an undisturbed forest will approximate to the rate of formation of coal.  That is, it will be effectively zero.  Immediately after it is massively disturbed, as by clear felling, it will become a carbon source, but will then become a large carbon sink with regrowth.  However, within a few years or decades (depending on the rate of growth of the trees), it will decline as a sink, and approach the rate of sequestration of the formation of coal over time (if completely undisturbed). (See here, and also here.)

    This pattern also applies to grasslands, with a possible (but not demonstrated by RedBaron) ongoing and slightly higher rate of sequestration due to the accumulation of soil carbon.  Even there, however, carbon accumulation in soil is dependent on the rate of bioturbation, which implies such carbon soil carbon is outgassed at some rate depending on the rate of bioturbation at a given level.  From that in turn it follows that even soil carbon will reach net zero sequestration given mature conditions, with a slight excess of sequestration if the soil is buried by sediment, and a slight excess of emission if it is eroded.

    This pattern also means you cannot project high rates of initial sequestration in ecosystem reclamation projects (as in his linked article @278) forward as an expected sustainable rate.  It will peter out rapidly for grasslands (excluding sequestration in soil), and over a few decades for forest.  Soil sequestration will peter out more slowly, but will itself reach equilibrium over time.

    The upshot is that the high rate of biosphere sequestration we see now is a consequence of prior degredations.  Absent the regrowth of northern forests (particularly in the USA), it would be much smaller.

  31. michael sweet at 09:30 AM on 25 April 2015
    Lomborg: a detailed citation analysis

    For interest, the author of the OP has an h index of about 48 (obtained by counting the papers in his link above).

    Obviously as you get a higher h index it is harder to get enough citations to raise your score.

  32. Rob Honeycutt at 09:01 AM on 25 April 2015
    Lomborg: a detailed citation analysis

    Andy... Ah, gotcha. I was tripping myself up because I kept trying to look up RB Alley, who also doesn't have a profile on Google Scholar. But I found Kerry Emanuel who, though he's 10 years older, has an h-index of 74. Or there's Jason Box, who is younger than Lomborg (not sure exactly how much), and has an h-index of 35.

    That puts it more into perspective.

  33. It hasn't warmed since 1998

    DarylLynch @338:

    1)  The upper ocean is heated by short wave radiation (visible light) from the sun.  It cools by evaporation and by radiation of IR energy.  Obviously the rate of cooling depends primarilly on its ability to transfer net energy from its skin layer to the atmosphere (which absorbs most of that IR energy).  If you warm the atmosphere, you restrict the rate at which it can cool.  Ergo it must warm to gain a new balance between incoming solar energy and outgoing (IR and evaporative) energy.

    2)  Cold water sinks because it is more dense.  But salty water is more dense as well.  When ice forms in the arctic (or antarctic) winter, the water becomes more dense due to the excess salt left behind by the freezing process, and sinks.  (The arctic and antarctic water is already unusually salty because of evaporation as it travels from the equator).  Further, winds over the ocean can generate substantial force.  They act in some ways to drive surface waters to depth.  I am, however, very unfamiliar with that process, so you are better of asking Rob Painting for details.

  34. Lomborg: a detailed citation analysis

    For convenience, I redid Bradshaw's analysis.  Here then are all of Bjorn Lomborg's academic papers, in reverse order of citation numbers:

    1. Nucleus and Shield (Game Theory) 141
    2. Game Theory vs Multiple Agents (Game Theory) 26
    3. Need for Economists to Set Global Priorities (Economics/ Environment) 9
    4. Environmental Sociology and Its Future (Economics/ Environment) 7
    5. Limits to Growth  (Economics/ Environment) 4
    6. Simulating Multiparty Systems (Game Theory) 3
    7. Response to Yohe et al (Economics/ Environment) 0

    Given that his first paper (Game Theory vs Multiple Agents) was published in 1995, that is a lamentable publication record.  Two things to note.  First, all of his game theory publications preceded 2000, when he clearly switched track from an academic career that was rapidly going nowhere.  The second is that if we exclude his game theory articles, his Google Scholar h-index is zero.  So, he has been given 4 million dollars without any competitive application process (ie, as a purely political decision) to set up an academic center in a field in which his h-index is zero, and in which he has only 4 academic papers.

  35. It hasn't warmed since 1998

    If its true that air heats up easier than water and heated air expands and rises , why would the Oceans store the heat and not the air ? What is the flaw in my logic ?, Does not heated water also expand and evaporate ?, Is the oceans heating up begin at the surface where the sun and the air have 1st contact ? If true then why is the heated water sinking down ?, is heated water heavier than cooler water ?, in my bath tub , the cooler water is at the bottom when it sits for a while before i get in, if i don't disturb the water and cause the warm and cold water to mix , i can let the cold water drain out , i'm not trying to prove anything, this is what i observe and what i was taught, i would like to be corrected any where i'm wrong, i have no desired comclusion , i desire only the facts and truth

    Moderator Response:

    [Rob P] - The thermohaline circulation (partially explained by Tom Curtis) also has a wind-driven component to it. In areas of surface water convergence (the subtropical ocean gyres) the water cannot go anywhere else but down into the ocean interior. This is known as Ekman pumping and is a consequence of the fact that we live on a rapidly rotating sphere - something known as the Coriolis Effect. There is no magic taking place in the subtropical ocean gyres, the warmest water is still at the surface. 

    Much of this can be understood by watching simple lab experiments of water in tanks on a rotating platter - such as these conducted by researchers at MIT.

  36. Lomborg: a detailed citation analysis

    Rob H: It would be interesting to know the h-index of some other prominent climate researchers that are somewhat close to Lomborg's age.

    There are quite a few regular contributors to Skeptical Science who have H-scores above Lomborg's, some considerably higher. You can check out most scientists' H scores on Google Scholar. As the article notes, Lomborg doesn't have a profile there.

    Considering that Lomborg is 50 and has been in some kind of academic or quasi-academic research job for twenty years, his peer-reviewed publication record is really quite mediocre.

  37. Rob Honeycutt at 07:35 AM on 25 April 2015
    Lomborg: a detailed citation analysis

    The idea that we can emit another 500 billion tons of carbon and still avoid catastrophe is absolutely insane.

    I don't think it's as insane as you might think. It's certainly not going to be painless, that's for sure, but I believe it's widely accepted that this can be accomplished and keep us at least near the 2C limit.

    See the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project. These are definitely not insane folks. 

  38. Lomborg: a detailed citation analysis

    Thank you for an excellent article.  I wish that there was some solid evidence that the tide was turning against the fossil fuel industry and their paid deniers.  Reading the science, global warming is guaranteed to be extremely dangerous and yet the vast majority of the lay public don't realize what's coming.  Our country and many others like Australia are doing very little.  Even Europe is making much less progress than it appears on the surface. According to a University of Leeds study, the UK has lowered its carbon footprint only 7% below 1990, not the 29% claimed by government due primarily to the embodied footprint of imported goods.  It's so discouraging.  We all need to be carbon neutral now or as soon as humanly possible.  The idea that we can emit another 500 billion tons of carbon and still avoid catastrophe is absolutely insane.  I'm a retired psychiatrist, so I can diagnose insanity when I see it.

  39. Rob Honeycutt at 06:22 AM on 25 April 2015
    Lomborg: a detailed citation analysis

    It would be interesting to know the h-index of some other prominent climate researchers that are somewhat close to Lomborg's age. 

  40. Lomborg: a detailed citation analysis

    British Petroleum has a 'Statistical Review of World Energy' which lists current oil reserves at 1.7 trillion barrels.  At todays reduced price ($56/barrel), that is worth almost 100 trillion US dollars.  And all of it under existential threat by websites such as this one.  One has to wonder if some of that 'cheddar' doesn't find its way into bogus appointments such as Lomborgs.

  41. University of Queensland offering free online course to demolish climate denial

    I think If someone wishes to argue from religion, it requires you frame your response in that context.

    Hence, I can think of two responses: God's covenant was that He would never again use a divine downpour to destroy life on Earth (Gen 9:15). He didn't say that the sea level won't rise at all due to the free will exercised by humans.

    2 Corinthians 9:6 says "whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully." If you do not tend your field, don't expect God to grace you with a fine harvest. If you don't look after the geosphere, don't expect the world's food supply to feed everyone.

  42. Changes in water vapor and clouds are amplifying global warming

    Recommended supplemental reading:

    The return of the iris effect? by Andrew Dressler, Real Climate, Apr 24, 2015

  43. University of Queensland offering free online course to demolish climate denial

    ('her' not 'here')

  44. University of Queensland offering free online course to demolish climate denial

    Will it help me communicate with my students who claim that the promise God made to Noah proves that CC can't get that bad (without throttling here '-))?

  45. There's no empirical evidence

    Tom Curtis @277.

    For a second time we use slightly different forms of analysis (I was assuming %(CO2 emissions), you %(drawn-down CO2) using Law Dome data) but I haven't before considered using ice core data to extend analysis of atmospheric levels back before the Keeling curve.

    While the Law Dome data does show some curious wobbles, it does allow a calculation of sorts for the Atmospheric Fraction back into the 1800s. There is no evidence from such a calculation that there was some grand absorbing sink of CO2 existing back then. (There's even an SKS post from 2010 that does a similar analysis with the same outcome.) This strongly suggests that the marked trashing of eco-systems over that period has not altered "ecosystem services" to any significant extent on a global scale.

  46. Glenn Tamblyn at 19:28 PM on 24 April 2015
    Changes in water vapor and clouds are amplifying global warming


    Actually they aren't contradictory. There is a difference bewteen the net effect clouds have when the climate is in one state and the impact a change in their conribution has.

    I am going on memory here but I think from the last IPCC report the contribution from clouds as 50 watts/m2 of cooling and 30 watts/m2 of warming for a net effect of 20 watts/M2 of cooling.

    Now hypothetically, if in a warmer world the cooling aspect increased to 55 watts/M2 and the warming aspect to 37 watts/M2, the net cooling is now 18 watts/M2. A change of +2 watts/M2. So they have acted as a warming feedback because they now contribute less cooling.

  47. Changes in water vapor and clouds are amplifying global warming

    Some statements in this article seem contradictory. It states  "We know that clouds have a net cooling effect on the planet", but then says scientists describe clouds as "positive feedback".  How can clouds have a net cooling effect yet be considered positive feedback?  It seems like this study is saying clouds actually have a net heating effect.

  48. Changes in water vapor and clouds are amplifying global warming

    Here's what I wonder:

    If the TLT measurements turn out to be underestimating warming (which seems likely), how does that impact the conclusions of the study?

  49. Changes in water vapor and clouds are amplifying global warming

    Interesting development on a thorny issue.

    "This new work confirms the opposite; it turns out Dr. Dessler was correct after all."

    Confirms? Wouldn't "corroborates" be more appropriate? This paper is one more step towards understanding. How does John Abraham know it is definitive?

  50. Changes in water vapor and clouds are amplifying global warming

    The links to the works of Dr. Dressler don't work here (they are active in the Guardian article). Some way to fix it?

    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Link inserted.

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