Climate Science Glossary

Term Lookup

Enter a term in the search box to find its definition.


Use the controls in the far right panel to increase or decrease the number of terms automatically displayed (or to completely turn that feature off).

Term Lookup


All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

Home Arguments Software Resources Comments The Consensus Project Translations About Donate

Twitter Facebook YouTube Pinterest

RSS Posts RSS Comments Email Subscribe

Climate's changed before
It's the sun
It's not bad
There is no consensus
It's cooling
Models are unreliable
Temp record is unreliable
Animals and plants can adapt
It hasn't warmed since 1998
Antarctica is gaining ice
View All Arguments...

Keep me logged in
New? Register here
Forgot your password?

Latest Posts


Climate Hustle

Recent Comments

Prev  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  Next

Comments 601 to 650:

  1. One Planet Only Forever at 15:47 PM on 10 April 2018
    On climate change, zero-sum thinking doesn't work

    MA Rodger@33,

    The quote from John Stuart Mill regarding the group called Conservative in his time in England fits with his warning in "On Liberty".

    “If society lets a considerable number of its members grow up mere children, incapable of being acted on by rational consideration of distant motives, society has itself to blame for the consequences.”

    The quote you referred to is essentially Mill saying the Conservative Party in his time relied on the support of members of society who grow up mere children, or stupid.

    Today's case related to the Republicans may be more sinister.

  2. New resource: The Fact-Myth-Fallacy slide-deck

    nigelj @2

    Thanks for the feedback!

    Check for a comment regarding the familiarity backfire effect. Bottom line seems to be that it doesn‘ hurt quite as much as thought earlier to mention the myth but it‘s still the better option (my interpretation) to do fact-myth-fallacy. Especially if people don‘t pay close enough attention to what they read or hear, what gets to them first has the best chance to stick.

  3. New resource: The Fact-Myth-Fallacy slide-deck

    Very powerful slide show and nicely concise, but I still think it would read better "myth, fact, fallacy". Its more traditionally ordered. I thought an article on this website discussed how having the problem myth up front didn't reinforce the problem in peoples minds?

  4. Digby Scorgie at 12:50 PM on 10 April 2018
    New resource: The Fact-Myth-Fallacy slide-deck

    Looking at the very first graphic (3 elements to an effective debunking) makes me think we need to invent a new word:


  5. 2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #14

    We have mucked with the climate sufficiently already.  Even if geo-engineering did work, the expected, unexpected consequenses raise the hair on the back of my neck.  Any bright teen ager could tell the politicians exactly what they should be doing.  It is not rocket science.  But talking to politicians unless you have your cheque book with you, is a waste of time.

  6. One Planet Only Forever at 00:51 AM on 10 April 2018
    2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #14

    Art Vandelay@4,

    The burning of GHGs has produced global scale climate geoengineering and large local scale water contamination and air pollution and destruction of developed ecosystems. None of that is acceptable, particularly since there is no evidence that any lasting benefit for the future of humanity has been developed specifically and exclusively as a result of people burning fossil fuels.

    To 'correctly' apply a global climate geoengineering application it would be essential to understand the intricate detail of how the impacts would affect any and all developed living ecosystems. That understanding is unlikely to ever be developed to a level of adequate certainty.

    What we can be quite certain about is that the climate change impacts from the unsustainable burning of non-renewable ancient buried hydrocarbons are unpredictably disruptive to the intricately developed inter-related life ecosystems on this planet. We can also be quite certain that rapidly curtailing the selfish pursuits of benefit form that activity are the only reliable way to develop a better future. And we can also be quite certain that global geoengineering to specifically remove CO2 from the atmosphere is an activity that can and should be developed, even if other 'cheaper and quicker' geoengineering options appear to exist.

    Sean Carroll's "The Big Picture" is a brilliant presentation of the developed understanding of reality, including the development of thinking. He includes the fact that everyone's self-interests can develop to be anything in the range from purely selfish pursuit of pleasure any way that can be gotten away with, to intense desire to dedicate effort to developing a truly better future for all life with humanity fitting is in a diversity of ways.

    The self-interested among humanity only care about what they can personally benefit from. And they often incorrectly believe/claim that advances of technology are advances of humanity.

    Those self-interested admirers of artificial and potentially unsustainable harmful developments can learn to become more concerned about sustainably developing a better future where humans fit into a robust diversity of 'real life' on this or any other amazing planet.

    And, for the sake of the future of humanity, that is the learning development that needs to be happening. And as that happens, anybody who suggests that instead of correcting harmful and unsustainable ways of living we should attempt to artificially create new impressions of 'technological success' would be laughed at and justifiably ignored, except for keeping a close watch to make sure they don't try to do something they shouldn't try to get away with.

  7. 2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #14

    Recommended suplemental reading:

    Why Green Groups Are Split on Subsidizing Carbon Capture Technology by Richard Conniff, Yale Environment 360, Apr 9, 2018

  8. 2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #14

    Art - Yes we have been geoengineering the planet for a long time so we should be able to geoengineer a solution and if that solution causes more damage we can always geoengineer away that problem and so on, and so on, and so on....

  9. 2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #14

    Art Vandelay, our models on climate change are based in part on a wealth of historical data on whats been happening to the planet as a whole over extended time periods, and are good, but we are still not completely certain about climate sensitivity.

    Imho with solar geoengineering (and the like) we dont have that historical data to inform modelling, and we would be reliant mostly on theory and some localised experiment. Applying this to the whole planet would be an unknown, and a localised experiment couldn't duplicate this completely. Nobody could ever be certain what would happen globally.

    At this stage it appears solar geoengineering could have negative effects regionally, and we would be permanently reliant on it. We also run the risk of geoengineering to fix problems caused by geoengineering gone wrong, to fix problems of geoengineering gone wrong.

  10. Art Vandelay at 14:30 PM on 9 April 2018
    American conservatives are still clueless about the 97% expert climate consensus

    Perhaps it's the simplicity of the question that invites resistance from a significant minority. Most people are aware that vast majority of scientists agree that rising CO2 causes warming of the atmosphere and other changes to the climate system, but that doesn't itself provide the level of detail that many people feel is necessary. 

    It shouldn't be too difficult to create a more refined analysis that indictes what percentage of scientists say that the consequences will be severe unless urgent steps are taken now to limit atmospheric CO2 to 'nnn' ppm, or limit global temperature to nn degrees C etc.

  11. Art Vandelay at 14:08 PM on 9 April 2018
    2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #14

    We are aleready geoengineering the planet - with GHG emissions and land use changes etc, and our confidence in the theory and resulting models is reasonably high. On face value there should be no difficulty working out the effects of geoengineering solutions that address climate change, and given that it's possible to conduct localised and time limited experiments, modelling can be far more accurately tested.     

  12. 2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #14

    Recommended supplemental reading on Rush Limbaugh : “Comedian Al Franken who later became a Senator, wrote a satirical book (Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations) in which he accused Limbaugh of distorting facts to serve his own political biases.[108”] “

    From wikipedia "Of Limbaugh's controversial statements and allegations they have investigated, Politifact has rated 84% as ranging from "Mostly False" to "Pants-On-Fire" (a signification for extremely false), with 5% of Limbaugh's contested statements rising to the level of "Mostly True" and 0% rated "True."[109] These debunked allegations by Limbaugh include suggestions that the existence of gorillas disproves the theory of evolution, that Ted Kennedy sent a letter to Soviet Leader Yuri Andropov seeking to undercut President Reagan, that a recent lack of hurricanes disproves climate change, and that President Obama wanted to mandate circumcision.[110][111][112][113]"

    You can't get much more badly informed and irrational thinking than this. It seems to me Limbaugh has an unusually suspicious devious mind, so falsely thinks everyone else is the same, and that everything is some sort of hoax or agenda. He can't seem to grasp mostly its just scientific discoveries, or attempts to solve very real problems that face humanity.

    Some of these talkback radio "shock Jocks" like Limbaugh know how to press peoples buttons and get attention, and thus a big audience. This can sometimes go over the edge into something obviously unhealthy. My theory is the good ratings probably convinces them the nonsense they speak is true, and leads to more of the same nonsense in a feedback effect. But good ratings dont mean everyone agrees.

    Some people worship authority figues and media people,  and believe everything they say. Its a self reinforcing  little bubble world generating complete nonsense, toxic views and conspiracy theories, one example is that "liberals" are manipulating storms so they sit over cities, to create worry about climate change to futher their "liberal agenda". People actually believe this stuff!

    The strong theory that burning fossil fuels leads to climate change goes back centuriues to the work of Svante Arrhenius, who published a research paper on the subject with pages of detailed, painstaking calculations, and also predicting CO2 emissions would cause temperatures to rise in the 20th century by about one degree. Nothing to do with liberal agendas, The UN, world socialism, Modern China, or anything like that, and before these things were even invented in most cases.

  13. BlackThunder at 10:51 AM on 9 April 2018
    Water vapor is the most powerful greenhouse gas

    scaddenp — It doesn't matter how much of the earth is covered with water. If that liquid H2O is not where the warming is occurring so that it can evaporate there, then the feedback loop is broken. Also, the Clausius-Claperyon is valid only if the system (earth in this case) is in thermal equilibrium. Such is not the case if air masses are moving around carrying water vapor from the oceans to the deserts. Furthermore, deserts generally are at higher altitudes so that moist airmasses tend to lose H2O vapor to condensation before arriving, which is why the area is a desert. The bottom line is that if the water vapor concentration is less than saturation, the feedback loop is broken.

  14. One Planet Only Forever at 10:48 AM on 9 April 2018
    2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #14

    Proposals implying that inflicting additional geoengineering 'solutions' should be considered to be responsible mitigation or correction of

    a damaging unsustainable geoengineering activity that Global leaders (elected representatives and the wealthy winners of economic competitions) have failed to provide responsible leadership to sustainably solve or correct

    is undeniably more irresponsible pursuits of excuses for those who irresponsibly continue to try to get away with benefiting from an understood to be damaging and ultimately unsustainable activity, an activity that cannot be proven to be providing any sustainable benefit for future generations of humanity, only doing harm.

    As a Structural Engineer I am very aware of the potential for future harmful consequences of anything I design. And that awareness should be in the fore-front of any engineering thinking, especially global geoengineering. And the need to resist and even oppose the desires of people who want to profit from an activity is undeniably the primary responsibility of a responsible engineer.

    The depth of understanding to provide the required level of certainty of the results of an intentional global geoengineering activity would appear to be centuries away, if it can ever properly be developed. The intricate inter-relationships of so many things would need to be known in incredibly correct detail.

    Others will see it differently, but they are undeniably potential serious threats to the future of humanity. And the higher the level of elected office or the more wealth they have the more of a threat they should be understood to be ... if humanity having a good chance of developing a sustainable better future on this or any other amazing planet is the understood Good Objective.

    The history of damaging developments created by the pursuits of perceptions of success resulting in popular support for harmful profitable pursuits is a tragic history that needs to be learned from (it has been learned, but responsible response to that learning is resisted by many among the wealthy and powerful).

    The socioeconomic-political systems that have developed damaging results and have developed resistance to being corrected need to be significantly corrected before anyone seriously considers global geoengineering to be a potential solution to otherwise obviously avoidable future problem. And that discussion will be brief in the corrected system because such an action would be understood to be unnecessary and potentially harmful and therefore simply unacceptable regardless of its potential popular support or temporary perceptions of profitability for a sub-set of humanity.

  15. 2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #14

    Rush Limbaugh is likely funded by people like the Koch brothers so he produces nonsense totally detached from reality.

    Like claiming one of the most powerful hurricanes ever recorded was "fake" news.

    Rush Limbaugh calls hurricane Irma fake news before fleeing in his private jet

    "May as well go ahead and announce this," he said. "I'm not going to get into details because of the security nature of things, but it turns out that we will not be able to do the program here tomorrow. ... We'll be on the air next week, folks, from parts unknown. So we'll be back on Monday. It's just that tomorrow is going to be problematic. Tomorrow it would be, I think, legally impossible for us to originate the program out of here."

    There's nowhere to flee to when the growing calamity of climate change spans the entire globe.

  16. Water vapor is the most powerful greenhouse gas

    Black Thunder, while true that you need a source of water, with 72% of planet covered by ocean, that usually isnt a problem. Furthermore, weather moves airmasses around so under-saturated air from a desert rapidly takes up water when it passes over an ocean. Observations show that relative humidity has remained the same (Clausius-Claperyon relation holds) and globally TPW pretty much matches the 7% per 1C rise. This is discussed in chapter 2 (2.5 ) of the AR5.

  17. BlackThunder at 08:27 AM on 9 April 2018
    Water vapor is the most powerful greenhouse gas

    In explaining the positive feedback loop, you make the statement

    If you increase the temperature, more water evaporates and becomes vapor, and vice versa. So when something else causes a temperature increase (such as extra CO2 from fossil fuels), more water evaporates.  This statement, of course, assumes that there is a source of liquid H2O in the immediate vicinity of the temperature increase. Otherwise, there would be no water available for evaporation which would break the feedback loop you describe. Therefore, it seems that this positive feedback loop can occur only at the surfaces of water sources (such as streams, lakes, or oceans) or if it is raining, and is not something that happens globally.

  18. American conservatives are still clueless about the 97% expert climate consensus

    Recommended supplemental reading:

    Trump’s Climate Change Denial Is Already Reshaping Public Opinion. Opinion by John Cook, HuffPost, Apr 3, 2018

  19. On climate change, zero-sum thinking doesn't work

    One Planet Only Forever @27,

    You do not provide no an explanation for the finding you present - "the evidence shows that currently the group identifying as Republicans has a much higher percentage of people who do not accept or who misunderstand climate science."

    Perhaps JS Mill, who is described as "One of the most influential thinkers in the history of liberalism," has provided us the explanation.

    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Typo corrected.

  20. American conservatives are still clueless about the 97% expert climate consensus

    "For example, about two-thirds of Americansnow realize that most scientists agree global warming is occurring, up from less than half in 1997."

    To amplify william's comment, it's not the scientists that are in agreement on this, it is the data. And there has been high confidence in the data of human fored climate change by the massive emissions of carbon dioxide through repeated demonstration of its accuracy through direct observation for decades.

    The chances of the science behind an increasing positive forcing of the radiative balance through massive emmissions of a molecule tuned to absorb heat being in fundanmental error is vanishingly small.

    The chances of ongoing claims that there is no significant forcing of the radiative balance through the emission of gigatons of CO2 every year is also vanishingly small.

    This isn't a question of one group of experts out-competiting another group with a rival theory, this is a question of virtually all the verifiable data indicating a very specific response to changing the ability of the atmosphere to absorb heat as opposed to the intellectual equivalent of a child putting their fingers in their ears and chanting loudly so they don't hear something they are unable to accept.

    Isaac Asimov coined a term, the Relativity of Wrong. This compares competing hypothesis that are attempting to descirbe a phenomena. It scales a hypothesis by how well it explains something in testible terms.

    Applying this relativity of wrong concept to the science of human forced climate change by the massive emissions of carbon dioixde to the hypothesis that it has no major radiative forcing, there is no comparison.

    In pure information respects there is no competing hypothesis to explain why the Earth is rapidly warming as we drive the concentration of atmospheric CO2 ever higher.

    Which means that those scientists who are doing genuine research in climate change and the human forcing factor are in far more than 97% agreement.

    Like a massive object trying to achieve the speed of light, it is never possible to achieve 100%. I'd say that the genuine science on this has to be more 99.99%.

    Because virtually all the observation is in agreement with the fundamental theories. Are we going to tweek quantum mechanics now to appease the fossil fuel sector...

    If so then modern society will come to a crashing halt, because the same quantum theories that allow all our modern transistor based electronics to work also describe why molecules like N2 and O2 - which make up almost all the atmosphere - are transparent to heat but CO2 isn't.

    Anyone posting online how the science of human forced climate change is in error has just disproved their own statements by demonstrating our high confidence in the fundamental theories that allow them to enter the online digital world and also explain why the Earth will warm as we increase the concentration of a gas that has been demonstrated in clear quantum mechanical terms to absorb heat.

  21. One Planet Only Forever at 09:11 AM on 8 April 2018
    On climate change, zero-sum thinking doesn't work

    scaddenp and Bob Loblaw,

    My comment@28 to Dan_the_Engineering_Man was to prompt his thoughts on the matter since he was claiming CO2 cannot be up in the atmosphere because it is heavier than O2.

  22. On climate change, zero-sum thinking doesn't work

    Yes, O3 is highly reactive. NaSty stuff a ground level where it readily combines with many biological tissues (such as lung tissue).

    Much of this discussion revolves around non-reactive gases. CFCs are largely non-reactive (which is why they make such good refrigerants) - until they reach the stratosphere where they break down under UV radiation. The by-products then react with O3, upsetting the natural balance between O3 creation and O3 reaction (destruction).

    If Dan was right, there would be no oxygen-breathing live at the surface....

  23. On climate change, zero-sum thinking doesn't work

    On the other hand, the CFC that destroy the ozone, creating the ozone hole are lifted from surface by convection and diffusion. If Dan was right, the CFCs would accumulate as a layer at ground level.

  24. On climate change, zero-sum thinking doesn't work

    One Planet - not a good example. O3 is generated in the stratosphere. Diffusion is limited as it is a highly reactive molecule.

  25. One Planet Only Forever at 02:33 AM on 8 April 2018
    On climate change, zero-sum thinking doesn't work


    Have you heard of the Ozone layer? Can you explain how molecules of O3, heavier than CO2 could be up so high?

  26. One Planet Only Forever at 02:29 AM on 8 April 2018
    On climate change, zero-sum thinking doesn't work

    Dan_the_Engineering_Man @15,

    I wish to clarify my comment @10 about your presentation of a political misunderstanding in your comment @5.

    Your comment @5 included the following:
    “... it would be written without the Political Spin. I do not believe that Conservative Thinkers, who can be broken down as Republicans, Tea Party Patriots, Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution, NRA Members, Factory Workers, Small Business Owners and Workers, Hunters, Fishermen, Policeman, Firemen, Military Personnel both presently serving and Veterens(sic), Mothers and Fathers, and many others including Billionaires like our President, get up in the Morning and want to ignore Science and destroy the Planet.”

    It is a misunderstanding and misrepresentation to claim that those categories of people are “Conservative Thinkers”. As I corrected in my comment @10 those categories each contain Progressive Liberals.
    The more important distinction is if a person cares More about how their actions may help or negatively affect others, than they care about how they can personally benefit from an action.

    Using that categorization the collective thinking they are Right or Conservative, or claiming to be that, currently includes a high percentage of people more concerned about their personal benefit than they are about helping others, mainly because greedy neoliberals and less tolerant religious and racial extremists have been welcomed into the group that has United to increase the chances of winning their unjustified Private Interests though unjustified abuse of wealth to obtain unjustified regional popularity.

    Specifically on the matter of climate science the SkS OP “American conservatives are still clueless about the 97% expert climate consensus” is the most recent of many OPs presenting the higher level of climate science misunderstanding among people who identify as Republican, a high percentage of the group who (to quote your comment) “get up in the Morning and want to ignore Science and destroy the Planet.”

    I agree that many people in the categories you listed do not “get up in the Morning and want to ignore Science and destroy the Planet.”, but that is because the large number of others claiming to be Conservative or Right are misunderstood to be able to be labelled Conservative Thinkers.

    Which brings me to my final observation. You need to provide a definition for what you are referring to when you use the term Conservative Thinker. Visualizing Venn Diagrams of all the different possible categorizing of people can help you appreciate the need to clearly define the category you refer to. The category of people who identify as Republican includes many people who accept or correctly understand climate science. And the category of people who identify as Democrat includes many people who do not accept or who misunderstand climate science. But the evidence shows that currently the group identifying as Republicans has a much higher percentage of people who do not accept or who misunderstand climate science.

    I end this comment by referring you back to how I ended my comment @10. Engineers need to be careful to thoroughly understand the work they do to be sure they get it Right.

  27. American conservatives are still clueless about the 97% expert climate consensus


    The paper you link to is from May 2017. It is a response to a comment on an earlier paper by Powell. The comment was written by several SkS participants, and our dear late friend Andy Skuce was the lead author. Andy wrote a blog post about it when the comment paper first appeared (at the same time as Powell's reply):

  28. On climate change, zero-sum thinking doesn't work


    From a quick Google search:

    ...which includes in its opening paragraph:

    The observed stratospheric profiles of d15N and d18O were in agreement with those calculated using a steady-state 1-dimensional eddy-diffusion/molecular-diffusion model, which suggests that the upward decrease of stratospheric d(O2/N2) is caused by a gravitational separation of O2 and N2

    ...which I would interpret to mean "yes". The stratosphere appears to be stable enough to see some gravitational stratification.

  29. On climate change, zero-sum thinking doesn't work

    @Bob Loblaw 24

    " ... does not happen in our atmosphere."

    Am I right in thinking it does happen in our high/stratospheric atmosphere? 

  30. On climate change, zero-sum thinking doesn't work

    Dan_the_Engineering_Man's claim that CO2 is heavier than other atmospheric gases has a tiny kernel of truth to it, but his conclusions fall into the "not even wrong" category.

    The tiny kernel of truth is that if you release a large quantity of a gas into the atmosphere, during those first few moments when that released gas is acting as an independent, cohesive mass its density will affect whether it rises, falls or remains at the same level in the air. The question is, how long will it continue to act as an independent, cohesive mass, and how long does it take to mix with the air and become distributed evenly throughout?

    From a safety point, heavy gases such as accidental releases of CFCs can and will sink to floor level in a room, and create a suffocation risk. The same holds true of other dense gases: if you have compressed gas tanks in a lower-level room with poor air circulation, best have an oxygen level warning system - if the tank leaks, the dense gas will fill the room from the floor up. By the time you can't breath at head level, collapsing to the floor puts you in an oxygen-free zone and death follow soon after. Anyone with confined space training knows the risks of suffocation in places where air circulation is absent and dense gases may exist.

    Where Dan_TEM utterly fails is in the case where there is time and motion to mix the gases. In the atmosphere, Even tiny differences of density of regular air, such as the heating at the earth's surface on a sunny day, leads to convection and turbulence. Even without free convection, wind causes turbulence and vertical mixing. Those nice cumulus clouds on a summer day? Only a few hours earlier, that water was evaporating from the earth's surface. The zone over which mixing occurs is in the order of kilometres in height. Try reading Wikipedia's Planetary Boundary Layer entry.

    If Dan_TEM were even remotely correct, oxygen and nitrogen would separate out and the bottom 21% of the atmosphere would be O2 and the top 78% would be N2, and all the H2O would be at high altitude and none at the surface. This obviously does not happen.

    Even in the absence of turbulent mixing, gases of different densities will, over time, diffuse to their own hydrostatic equilibrium. Each gas acts independently in such a case. Consequently, the pressure vs. height relationship is independent for each gas, and therefore relative concentration with height will vary slightly. But this does not lead to stratification, and does not happen in our atmosphere.

    Dan_TEM is not worth listening to.

  31. On climate change, zero-sum thinking doesn't work


    Compare your video of diffusion of bromine into air with diffusion into a vacuum. I guess it is not just diffusion any more but .... Whoosh!

  32. On climate change, zero-sum thinking doesn't work

    "we should understand how CO2, which is heavier than Air, can get in the Upper Atmosphere". 

    Indeed, and you can get this understanding from pretty elementary texts on gas diffusion.  The short answer is that given the strength of gravitational force on earth and the temperature of the atmosphere, kinetic energy from molecular collisions dominates over gravity. The video I showed with bromine, much heavier than CO2, shows it diffusing upward, not settling at the bottom, and it eventually becomes well mixed. No turbulence required but convection and turbulence certainly speed the process.  

    The bromine experiment by itself shows your intuition is wrong about CO2. Notice also how evenly CO2 is distributed vertically through the atmosphere If your hypothesis that molecular weight overrides diffusion was correct and planes were needed to move stuff up, then you would predict at heavy hydrocarbons would be at base of atmosphere of Titan (no planes to mix anything) and lighter methane would be at the top. Instead all the gases are well-mixed vertically as on earth.

    If you want to learn more about the distribution, sources of CO2, then have a look at the resources (images, video) available from the NASA CO2 measuring satellite (OCO2), on the NASA page, as CO2 varies with season etc.

  33. On climate change, zero-sum thinking doesn't work

    Dan_the_Engineering_Man @19

    "Factories and Power Plants are at Ground level, and as their CO2 exhaust rises, they would cool and return to the Earth, because, CO2 is heavier than Air. "

    No. CO2 from these sources is carried high in the atmosphere and stays there, and is well mixed. 

    CO2 is carried high up  mostly due to constant turbulence, winds, hadley cell processes, and random molecular motion from the energy of gas molecules that bounces everything around. It would require much larger density differences between the various gas molecules and constantly completely calm conditions to overcome this and form discrete layers.

    No layering in the atmosphere has been measured.

    "But what about Airplanes?"

    Emissions of carbon dioxide by aircraft were 0.14 Gt C/year in 1992. This is about 2% of total anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions in 1992. (older data but its similar now)

    Scientists know how much extra CO2 is accumulating in the atmosphere and aircraft emissions simply dont account for the full quantity. Therefore this shows significant quantities of CO2 from cars and factories is carried high in the atmosphere.

    Your suggestions are worth considering because at face value you would think the atmosphere might form layers, but it simply doesnt and a few google searches to  check your ideas would have shown you this. I did a google search out of curiosity to better inform myself on some aspects of this issue.

  34. On climate change, zero-sum thinking doesn't work

    Dan_the_Engineering_Man @19:

    Perhaps you should do some homeowrk before you imply that scientists have not been studying the effects of air travel.

    For example...

    Update 7/10/16 — A deal was agreed by 191 countries in Montreal on 6 October 2016. The agreement adopts an offsetting approach to constraining aviation emissions. Starting from 2021, airlines that have opted into the measure will have to purchase offsets to balance their emissions growth above 2020 levels. More than 65 countries representing over 85% of global air traffic have said they will participate from the beginning. More countries can opt to join in after 2024 or 2027, by which point the scheme will be mandatory for all but the smallest countries. The scheme will be reviewed every three years.

    In 2010, the aviation industry agreed an aspirational goal to cap its emissions after 2020, so that future growth would have to be “carbon neutral”.

    This won’t be easy. The industry is expected to grow at an average rate of around 5% per year over the next two decades. This means that it will either have to find a way to drastically increase its efficiency, or balance its own emissions through cuts made in other sectors.

    All this takes place in light of the UN Paris Agreement agreed in December 2015, which could soon come into force.

    The agreement set a target to limit global temperature rise to 2C above pre-industrial levels, with a tough aspirational goal of limiting it to 1.5C. Analysis by Carbon Brief has shown that aviation could consume a quarter of the emissions budget for 1.5C by 2050.

    Explainer: How aviation could, finally, agree a climate deal by Sophie Yeo, Carbon Brief, Sep 26, 2018

  35. American conservatives are still clueless about the 97% expert climate consensus

    William @3

    I normally agree with your comments, but I think your alternative wording is over complicating this. People will also say "97% of scientists have done research and that their results are consistent witht the theory etcetera"  was done in the past and was wrong.

    Keep it simple. There are no clever wordings. People must surely know a consensus is not 100% proof, but they realise a strong consensus counts for quite a lot. This is why the denialists attack the consensus idea so much.

    We can't do much about people that choose to interpret a consensus totally cynically or stupidly and they will do this however it is worded. You aren't going to change, this because their mindset is driven by ego, emotion and politics.

    We can only convince people who are open minded and seeking information.

  36. Dan_the_Engineering_Man at 06:57 AM on 7 April 2018
    On climate change, zero-sum thinking doesn't work

    If I am to believe that tiny trace amounts of CO2 in the upper Atmosphere is a Greenhouse Gas causing Global Warming, then perhaps we should understand how CO2, which is heavier than Air, can get in the Upper Atmosphere.  The first possibilities are Factories, Power Plants and  Airplanes, which burn Fuel, and exhaust CO2 and CO, could bring CO2 into the Upper Atmoshere.  Factories and Power Plants are at Ground level, and as their CO2 exhaust rises, they would cool and return to the Earth, because, CO2 is heavier than Air.  But what about Airplanes?

    After all there are over 102,000 Comercial Airline Flights per Day.

    Why haven't we heard anything against flying Airplanes? 

    Checking the Web, we use 17.3 Billion Gallons of Fuel for Air Travel in the United States alone.

     Boeing says their 747 uses 5 Gallons per Mile and a 10 Hour Flight will use 36,000 Gallons of Fuel. 

    A Gallon of Fuel weighs ~7.8 Pounds, and complete Combustion is ~ 14.5 Units of Air to 1 Unit of Fuel, so the exhaust is creating between 100 to 115 Pounds on NO2, CO, and CO2 per Gallon of Fuel.  And all of this Airplane Exhaust is 10 to 25,000 Feet above the Ground.  Burning 17.3 Billion Gallons and producing 1.7 Trillion Pounds of exhaust per Year, in the Upper Atmosphere, might have some effect and explain why some Scientists say they have measured Trace CO2 in the Upper Atmosphere. 

    I would think that Scientists would be studying and isolating the effects of air travel. 

  37. American conservatives are still clueless about the 97% expert climate consensus

    97% of the leading thinkers of their day once believed the earth was flat.  The percent of scientists believing that climate change is real is a very weak argument.  On the other hand the fact that 97% of scientists have done research and that their results are consistent witht the theory that the climate is changing and that we are causing it is a very strong argument. 

  38. American conservatives are still clueless about the 97% expert climate consensus

    A new survey of published climate related papers shows that there is actually a 99.94% consensus on human made global warming.

    99.94 scientific consensus on AGW

    Here the peer-reviewed paper =>

  39. On climate change, zero-sum thinking doesn't work

    Dan_the_Engineering_Man @15

    "Secondly, there are maybe trace elements of CO2 in higher elevations, but not enough to support Photosynthesis"

    No, concentrations of CO2 are  high even at altitudes of many kilometres in research  here, here,  and here. This has been measured many times using various instruments, and is settled science.

    Trees don't grow above the tree line because of low tempertures, levels of moisture and shading effects here.

    Eclectic,  ha ha message received and understood. 

  40. On climate change, zero-sum thinking doesn't work

    Gases do mix - usually schools demo this with bromine - try youtube to see how fast even a heavy gas mixes vertically. For the vertical profile of CO2, numerous measurements. Eg

    from this source but many many others. Note the horizontal scale. Not a lot of variation (40ppm) even at low altitudes. Your intuitions are letting you down.

  41. On climate change, zero-sum thinking doesn't work

    Nigelj @12 , you are overly harsh regarding Dan's ideas of atmospheric gasses arranging themselves in layers according to their molecular weights.   In many parts of the world, turbulence produces a complete mixing of all the gasses.   But there certainly can be pockets where this does not happen — for instance, in Dan's immediate vicinity, CO2 (having a Relative Density of 22) completely displaces O2 (Relative Density 16) from the lowermost 12 feet of the atmosphere.  Which explains much.

  42. American conservatives are still clueless about the 97% expert climate consensus

    Very informative article. The level of concern about climate change looks to have dropped around 2009, which approximately matches with the climate research unit email controversy, which initially created a bad look in a superficial sense. Several investigations cleared everyone of any wrong doing, but it looks like it was a temporary setback in terms of public acceptance of the climate problem, but acceptance has fortunately improved since 2009 in the graph in the article.

    I think one of the main reasons some republicans are unaware of the 97% consensus level research is many of them only watch Fox, from some study I saw somewhere. Fox seldom refers to the consensus studies and is sceptical of climate science, so this group of republicans simply aren't getting the information. The internet seems to have had a peculiar effect of enabling people to hide in little bubble worlds full of fake information, or information is just deliberatly left out. The later can be just as damaging as misleading or incorrect information, imho.

    It may be worth climate organisations trying to identify and target this group or republicans somehow.

    Fox also has low accuracy in its climate change reporting compared to other media, although some small improvements recently here in this article.

    We appear to have two main groups of people in this world in relation to how science is perceived. Firstly look at historical controversial science issues as well as climate science. like evolution, vaccines, and tobacco problems, and theres quite a lot of initial scepticism in the general public, but acceptance does slowly improve over time with most people. This must surely be due to education, people work through the issues in their minds, and seeing the trickery of lobby groups slowly exposed, seeeing through the campaigns of doubt, and seeing through the misleading rhetoric full of logical fallacies.

    So we have a decent sized group of people  that have some innate healthy scepticism, but are apparently able to be persuaded or change their views over time. The more the fake arguments of the denialists are exposed, the more people are likely to be persuaded one would think.

    And of course the fact corporations hid knowledge of problems inevitably gets leaked sooner or later.

    However you have another group of people, a  very stubborn core group of denialists. Again just look at debates over climate science, safety of vaccines, tobacco and evolution and this smaller group of denialists still exists even after decades. A lot of evidence suggests political and ideological motives, and vested interests as key driving factors. It's hard changing people's politics, or things like unusually high levels of cognitive bias and the dunning kruger effect. That's not to say we shouldn't try, however success may be very slow coming.

    Therefore while the stubbborn denialists arguments should always be challenged,society may be best to stop thinking they will ever accept the science fully, and work around them, isolate and ignore them. Democrats may need to take stronger ownership of the climate issue, both in terms of stronger legislative positions rather than weak positions that try to please everyone (and yes I know its tough in politics) and also make more efforts on an individual level and local community level. This will force the Republican Party to take notice, and take at least some action in case it is seen as totally behind the times and at risk of losing votes.

    So I think we have these two groups of people who respond a bit differently, and its important to realise they are separate groups and so strategies have to be different. Too many people confuse them, and think either everyone can be convinced of the science, or all attempts to convert sceptics are hopeless. The truth is a bit more nuanced.

    One nit pick. The paragraph near the end of the article "one key point Gallup poll" was a bit confusing.

  43. Dan_the_Engineering_Man at 08:29 AM on 6 April 2018
    On climate change, zero-sum thinking doesn't work

    Awesome, we have a discussion instead of name calling.

    First, I did not give my Political opinions.  My description of Republicans was to show that it is absurd to believe that roughly 1/2 the population wakes up every day in anticipation of how they can destroy the Planet.

    Secondly, there are maybe trace elements of CO2 in higher elevations, but not enough to support Photosynthesis.  I would imagine, warm CO2 Gas exiting a Power Plant might linger until it cooled, but it will return to the ground level.  Please people, CO2 is heavier than AIR.  Please don't call me names for explaining that fact. CO2 is heavier than Air, how can it be a Greenhouse Gas, insulating the Planet? I am sorry but first there is not enough CO2, it is a tiny fraction of Air, and second, it is heavier than Air.

    As for the holes in my math, all the Energy that Man uses in a Year is less than 4 Hours of the Energy that the Sun imparts on the Earth.  Look it up yourself, I even give the website.  Don't be angry with me, I am simply looking for the Truth.  

    I like solar and Wind Power, I am not against them.  I understand how Power Companies work and that having multiple Sources and Fuels are important to National Security and our Welfare.  A pile of coal that could last a Month at a Power Company would be very nice to have especially in the event that something like a Tornado happened across a Gas pipeline or to a Wind or Solar Farm.

    Moderator Response:

    [DB] Again, read the Comments Policy.   And ensure all future comments are constructed to comply with it.

    Ideological, off-topic and sloganeering statements snipped.

  44. On climate change, zero-sum thinking doesn't work

    Again, you are simply guessing what the science knows or not instead of bothering to read. What you are talking about is UHI effect, very well studied as it has to be corrected for in temperature record. As someone who works in thermodynamics, I am extremely aware of waste heat, but as you point out, it is insignificant compared to solar output. It is also insignificant compared to greenhouse effect.  Please see the waste heat myth here for more details. Comment there, not here, if you want to discuss waste heat further. Off topic comments get deleted.

  45. Dan_the_Engineering_Man at 07:53 AM on 6 April 2018
    On climate change, zero-sum thinking doesn't work

    Scaddenp, I guess none of the Scientists that you speak of came from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Pittsburgh was once the Steel Capitol of the World.  Growing up in Pittsburgh, it was comom knowledge that Pittsburgh and the surrounding Counties were always 5 Degrees warmer than the out laying Communities. Even areas farther to the South of Pittsburgh were colder.  It is difficult to understand what 100's of Cities with the Industrial capacity of 1940's and 50's Pittsburgh, would do to Regional Climate if condensed into one Country, but that is what has happened in China.  Every Steel Mill, every Aluminum Mill, Glass Factory, Chemical Plant, Textile Factory, each one, uses the Energy of a Large Residential City.  As you add Manufacturing, you must add Power Plants, they also add Heat depending upon types of fuel.  Check out any Thermal Dynamic Cycle you can think of, burning any Fuels in the conversion to Electricity is at best 40% Efficient. Therefore, you have 60% wasted Heat from all the Fuels burned.  How can the Scientists that you speak of, ignore that fact?       

    Moderator Response:

    [DB] "How can the Scientists that you speak of, ignore that fact?"

    Scientists ignore no such thing.  Waste heat is addressed on this thread

    And, while urban areas are undoubtedly warmer than surrounding rural areas, this has had little to no impact on warming trends.

    "The Urban Heat Island effect is real. Berkeley’s analysis focused on the question of whether this effect biases the global land average. Our UHI paper analyzing this indicates that the urban heat island effect on our global estimate of land temperatures is indistinguishable from zero."


    "Time series of the Earth’s average land temperature are estimated using the Berkeley Earth methodology applied to the full dataset and the rural subset; the difference of these is consistent with no urban heating effect over the period 1950 to 2010"


    "The simple take-away is that while UHI and other urban-correlated biases are real (and can have a big effect), current methods of detecting and correcting localized breakpoints are generally effective in removing that bias. Blog claims that UHI explains any substantial fraction of the recent warming in the US are just not supported by the data."

    Please note that Skeptical Science is a big place, with thousands of blog posts and rebuttals addressing virtually every topic available in the science. Please familiarize yourself with the site, using the Search function in the upper left of every page when in doubt about which thread to place a comment on. 

    And remember that posting comments here at SkS is a privilege, not a right.  This privilege can be rescinded if the posting individual treats adherence to the Comments Policy as optional, rather than the mandatory condition of participating in this online forum.

    Please take the time to review the policy and ensure future comments are in full compliance with it.  Thanks for your understanding and compliance in this matter.

  46. On climate change, zero-sum thinking doesn't work


    "When you look at a Mountain, there is a Tree line, the Trees can not grow above that Altitude. That is because CO2 is heavier than Air, and there is no CO2 at the higher Altitudes."

    "Carbon dioxide, also known by the chemical formula CO2, has a higher density than the other gases found in air, which makes CO2 heavier than the air."

    CO2 is heaver than oxygen, but the atmosphere has "well mixed gases" with CO2 at very high altitudes because of winds etc as briefly discusssed in ths article. This is established science, that has been measured at high altitudes with measuring devices. 

  47. David Kirtley at 07:30 AM on 6 April 2018
    On climate change, zero-sum thinking doesn't work

    Dan: The Mauna Loa observatory, which has been measuring increasing atmospheric CO2 since the late 1950s, is located at an elevation of 3379 meters (11,145 ft) above sea level. Not sure if this is above or below the treeline. Nevertheless, CO2 is a well-mixed gas and occurs throughout the troposphere and into the stratosphere.

  48. One Planet Only Forever at 07:23 AM on 6 April 2018
    On climate change, zero-sum thinking doesn't work


    As a long time Professional Engineer with an MBA I spotted may holes in your comment, in addition to the one that Philippe pointed out @6 and the one that scaddenp pointedout at 7.

    The first one I add is the political one. Every category of people you listed also includes Liberal Progressives.

    The most glaring error of understanding is your claim that "CO2 is not a Greenhouse Gas.", that was correctly pointed out by scaddenp.

    Your other expressions of thoughts is similarly questionable.

    I will close by hoping you do not extend the approach you have taken to mis-understanding this issue to your Engineering work. That would be irresponsibly tragic.

    Do more research to be sure you properly understand what is going on, setting aside personal preferences, just as you would do with any engineering work you perform.

  49. On climate change, zero-sum thinking doesn't work

    Dan_the_Engineering_Man @5

    You compalin the article is politically biased, however its not biased. Because it's a simple fact that polls do actually consistently show republicans more sceptical of climate science than democrats.

    You say republicans dont want to destroy the planet. Strawman argument as nobody has accused them of that. However it's a fact thar the current republican administration has downgraded numerous useful Obama era environmental protections in this article, and so they are damaging the planet whether they intend to or not.

    You say trees dont grow above the tree line because CO2 is heavier than air. Nothing to do with temperatures at high altitudes, precipitation, soils, shading effects  then?    In fact CO2 is detected at high altitudes with measuring devices in weather baloons etcetera.

    You appear to say there is climate change because Chinas industrial machine generates CO2 emissions. This conflicts with your previous two incorrect statements that CO2 is not a greenhouse gas, and doesn't exist "above the tree line".

    It's probably also worth noting that while China produces more total emissions than America, America has higher emissions than China on a per capita basis. 

    You complain about Chinas industrial machine and it's affects on the west. Now I'm going to agree the issue needs watching carefully, but you totally fail to see the other side of the issue, that it has given the western world numerous low cost consumer products.

    You think China will become a giant industrial monopoly, but that isn't happening, because rising wages in China are already slowing its industrial growth, and its shifting manufacturing to other countries like vietnam and bangladesh etcetera. Its implausible to believe any one country would dominate manufacturing, and you have more to fear from multi national corporate monopolies.

    You say the Waste Energy Heat from this massive uncontrolled industrial monster in China, is carried to the North Pole by Trade Winds and is melting the arctic. You provide no evidence of this, and research studies conslusively show heat generated directly by industry and transport  is insignificant in global warming as in this article.

    You say global warming is caused by the suns energy. This would require an increase in the suns energy, but it's been decreasing in recent decades as in this article.

    This is just a relatively quick response to your comments. Have to agree with PC that no engineer would seriously generate the nonsense in you post.

  50. Dan_the_Engineering_Man at 07:19 AM on 6 April 2018
    On climate change, zero-sum thinking doesn't work

    Philippe Chantreau, "Carbon dioxide, also known by the chemical formula CO2, has a higher density than the other gases found in air, which makes CO2 heavier than the air. Air is composed of approximately 78 percent nitrogen, 21 percent oxygen, and less than 1 percent of other gases".  CO2 is a small fraction of the 1 % of other Gases.  It is absurd to think that a minute increase in CO2, can cause Global Warming. 

    You must have some emotional maturity issues for your use of name calling, when none is required.  Please, I mean no offense, only to educate in this matter.

    CO2 is dangerous to workers because it can become concentrated when trapped in crawl spaces under industrial furnaces, or other areas with poor ventilation.  But possibly you have never held a job, where the Safety Department requires you to be educated in the dangers and proceedures of confined spaces.

    Again, I concede that Industrial Cities can elevate local Temperatures, and when concentrated with as many Industrial Cities that exist in China, Regional Weather patterns can be affected.  Especially when the Industrial Cities of Europe and the Americas are in decline.  But the Energy from the Sun laughs at all the combined Energy created by man.  A solar flare in our direction and all life on Earth is toast.  

    Do a little reasearch yourself Philippe, I give you the Wikipedia site for Energy.  It really is very simple math, and I bet you could follow it if you tried.

    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Please keep it civil.

Prev  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  Next

The Consensus Project Website


(free to republish)

Smartphone Apps


© Copyright 2018 John Cook
Home | Links | Translations | About Us | Contact Us