As climate talks sputter, UN scientists vet 'Plan B'

Jun 18, 2011 by Marlowe Hood

On the heels of another halting round of talks on climate change, UN scientists this week will review quick-fix options for beating back the threat of global warming that rely on technology rather than political wrangling.

Experts from the (IPCC), meeting for three days from Monday in the Peruvian capital Lima, will ponder "geo-engineering" solutions designed to cool the planet, or at least brake the startling rise in Earth's temperature.

Seeding the ocean with iron, scattering heat-reflecting particles in the stratosphere, building towers to suck carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the atmosphere, and erecting a giant sunshade in space are all on the examining table.

Critics say such schemes -- some of which have been tested experimentally -- are a roll of the dice with Earth's and its complex web of biodiversity.

And even if one problem is solved, they argue, it may be impossible to anticipate knock-on effects and unintended consequences.

There is a political danger as well, experts caution: the prospect of a quick fix to could weaken an already fragile global consensus on the need to reduce or subvert complicated methods for measuring emissions cuts.

"It's a convenient way for Northern governments to dodge their commitments to emissions reduction," said Silvia Ribeiro of the ETC Group, a technology watchdog group.

Last week, more than 100 organisations, including ETC and Friends of the Earth, sent an open letter to the IPCC "demanding a clear statement of its commitment to precaution and to the existing international moratorium on geo-engineering."

Only four years ago, in its landmark Fourth Assessment Report, the IPCC dismissed geo-engineering in a brief aside as charged with potential risk and unquantified cost.

But now the Nobel-winning panel is taking a closer look, a telling sign, for some, that the effort to tackle global warming through politics is taking too long and bearing too little fruit.

Delegates ended another 12-day talkfest in Bonn on Friday under the UN Framework Convention on (UNFCCC), still deeply riven over who should cut their emissions, by how much and when.

Current pledges fall far short of holding temperature rise in check below 2.0 degree Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) compared with pre-industrial levels, a widely accepted threshold for safety.

IPCC officials defend the new review on several grounds.

To begin with, it is what members of the 194-nation intergovernmental body asked for, said Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, a leading Belgian scientist and vice chair of the IPCC.

"My concern is to fulfill an IPCC mandate to provide the best information available to take informed decisions to protect the climate and the environment," he said by telephone.

"We will look at the advantages and possibilities, but we will also look at the potentially negative aspects."

The experts meeting Monday, he added, review the state of scientific knowledge but do not make policy recommendations.

"In the absence of an objective IPCC assessment, the only information available to policy makers would be from quite a diverse range of sources, some of which might have an interest at stake," he said.

Geo-engineering schemes can be as simple as planting trees to absorb CO2 or painting flat roofs white to reflect sunlight back into space, a technique already in use in many sun-baked urban settings.

They also include scattering sea salt aerosols in low marine clouds to render them more mirror-like, sowing the with reflective sulphate particles, or "fertilising" the ocean surface with iron to spur the growth of micro-organisms that gobble up CO2.

At the sci-fi end of the scale is a proposal -- which exists, for now, only on paper -- for a sunshade positioned at a key point between Earth and the Sun that would deflect one or two percent of solar radiation, turning the planet's thermostat down a notch.

In an analysis published in September 2009, the Royal Society, Britain's academy of sciences, judged that planting forests and building towers to capture CO2 could make a useful contribution -- once they are demonstrated to be "safe, effective, sustainable and affordable."

It also noted that blunting the impact of solar radiation would still not lower atmospheric concentrations of CO2, which is also driving ocean acidification.

Explore further: Brazil builds giant tower in Amazon to monitor climate

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mememine69
1.7 / 5 (18) Jun 18, 2011
Y2kyoto: Climate Change was a specific death threat and a criminal exaggeration, and was not about sustainability or doing the right thing.
Most of the Canadian and American rust belts have not had ONE single smog day in over FIVE YEARS. (only constant reports of "ALERTS" to a potential of a smog warning/day developing)
I'm not the only one contacting authorities and law makers and the justice departments to have the leading scientists and NEWS EDITORS charged for this needless panic of a false war called Climate Change. We missed getting Bush. We need a Nuremberg Trial again.
mememine69
1.9 / 5 (18) Jun 18, 2011
If you love the planet, be happy for it and be relieved that the planet you love so much will not experience a life ending crisis of climate change. Climate change was a political and cultural industry, not science and not pollution, or energy or waste or population. It was a criminal exaggeration that served as a comfortable lie. Meanwhile, the UN had allowed carbon trading to trump 3rd world fresh water relief, starvation rescue and 3rd world education for just over 25 years of climate control instead of the obviously needed population control.
And the unconscionable media and greedy lab coat consultants were a part of this needles panic and climate crime that condemned billions of children to a CO2 death, JUST to get them to turn the lights out more often. Now climate change has done to journalism and science what abusive priests did for the Catholic Church.
Nice job JOURNALISTS. Nice job SCIENTISTS.
thermodynamics
4.2 / 5 (10) Jun 18, 2011
mememine69: Please elaborate a bit. Are you saying:
1) The Earth is not warming

2) CO2 has no effect on the temperature of the Earth

3) A warmer Earth will not have changes that raise sea level

4) More water vapor in the atmosphere means more energy and drives the heat engine of the earth faster

5) Arctic ice melt is accelerating

What is your opinion of the statements above, please give me a reference.

These things are happening slowly. Causal relationships are also being developed slowly and carefully (they might not be tied together). They might be too slow for most to even notice.

The process for humanely cooking lobster is to put them in cold water and slowly raise the temperature. By the time it gets hot enough to cook them they have acclimated and they die quickly during the next few degrees. I am not in favor of the hysterical claims of the extremists on either side of the argument but please just give me references to your answers to the questions above.
Zak_Mc_Kee
2.3 / 5 (15) Jun 18, 2011
We are on the verge of a solar maxis. The Earth warming has relatively nothing to do with Earth, and is mainly caused by the Sun. In 10 years they will be saying what we need to do to fight global cooling.
thermodynamics
3.7 / 5 (3) Jun 18, 2011
Zak_Mc_Kee: Is that your considered opinion? The latest I have seen is that sunspots MIGHT be going into a minimum (this is a new hypothesis and is not proven yet). Then, if they do go into a minimum that MIGHT cause cooling of the earth (not proven yet). Then the test will be if the possible cooling from the sun will be enough to override the present warming of the globe. Here is a reference to what seems to be happening here:

http://www.physor...ots.html

Are you saying that the clearly worded discovery here has been translated by you to mean that we are about to drop into a cooling mode? Can you please support that claim (which I consider as irresponsible as those who claim we are going to burst into flames in 20 years). :-)
NikFromNYC
2.6 / 5 (9) Jun 18, 2011
Cold fusion featured in the LA Times in '89 before it was debunked. Environmentalists were aghast at the possibility of cheap clean energy:

Its like giving a machine gun to an idiot child. Paul Ehrlich (mentor of John Cook of the SkepticalScience blog, author of "Climate Change Denial")
Clean-burning, non-polluting, hydrogen-using bulldozers still could knock down trees or build housing developments on farmland. Paul Ciotti (LA Times)
It gives some people the false hope that there are no limits to growth and no environmental price to be paid by having unlimited sources of energy. Jeremy Rifkin (NY Times)
Many people assume that cheaper, more abundant energy will mean that mankind is better off, but there is no evidence for that. Laura Nader (sister of Ralph)
NikFromNYC
1.9 / 5 (9) Jun 18, 2011
1) The Earth is not warming

Of course it is. With no trend up-swing that doesn't have perfect precedence before CO2 was a big deal:

http://oi56.tinyp...h021.jpg
http://oi45.tinyp...bajo.jpg
Not even GISS, the steepest global average of all shows any warming in the last decade or so:
http://www.woodfo...02/trend

2) CO2 has no effect on the temperature of the Earth

Only pedantic eccentrics claim this, not serious skeptics. Such claims are based on pages of equations without matching empirical evidence.
NikFromNYC
1.6 / 5 (7) Jun 18, 2011
I keep getting an XML formatting error on this site.

3) A warmer Earth will not have changes that raise sea level

Sea level shows no contemporary trend change whatsoever. Church and White, the classic purveyors of an exponentially shaped sea level curve, in their latest article update of 2011 (which eliminated the word accelerating from the title) plots, in hard-to-see yellow, a simple average of tide gauges, which, once I clean all the dark plots behind it away, shows stark linearity.

Graph: http://oi51.tinyp...koix.jpg
Reference: http://www.spring...text.pdf
http://oi53.tinyp...os4y.jpg
NikFromNYC
1.6 / 5 (7) Jun 18, 2011
4) More water vapor in the atmosphere means more energy and drives the heat engine of the earth faster

Huh? More water vapor gives more low level clouds which reflect sunlight. That's the unknown factor, so far, though Lindzen's recent update to his originally flawed paper on measuring actual feedbacks will help clear this up, either way.

5) Arctic ice melt is accelerating

Yup! The 10% of the world's ice up there is doing something interesting. And rapidly recovering now too. However, the 90% of the world's ice at the other pole is growing, since that continent is in fact cooling according to the UAH satellite:

http://oi54.tinyp...es9e.jpg
http://oi51.tinyp...cor5.jpg
thermodynamics
5 / 5 (2) Jun 18, 2011
NikFromNYC: Thank you for including references. Not many do that and I wanted you to know I appreciate that. However, looking at your reference from Church and White, it only reinforces the view that sea levels are rising. Can you explain how you would manipulate their results to make the claim that they are not?

"Sea level shows no contemporary trend change whatsoever. Church and White, the classic purveyors of an exponentially shaped sea level curve, in their latest article update of 2011 (which eliminated the word accelerating from the title) plots, in hard-to-see yellow, a simple average of tide gauges, which, once I clean all the dark plots behind it away, shows stark linearity."

I leave it to the readers to go to his reference to Church and White to see what they have actually written. It is not clear to me where the "tinypictures" which are loaded up to an anonymous web site even come from. Please let us know where they come from. Please re-read the paper you gave us.
thermodynamics
5 / 5 (5) Jun 18, 2011
NikFromNYC: Thanks again for the URLs. It saved me a lot of time. I was going to address each of the curves that you pointed to until I figured out that they are your own self-published curves that have not been subject to any review at all. This is your own interpretation of data that others (peer reviewed) have interpreted differently. Can you let us in on the magic statistics you have used and where you picked your start and stop points for analysis? It looks to me like you have cherry-picked and used simple averages without even going through the work to validate your approach. If you read the paper from Church and White (which you supplied) they spend pages explaining their approach which was reviewed by others. You then refute it by self-publishing an approach that would be given an F in a first level statistics course. Please give us an explanation of your statistical analysis and who reviewed the approach.
omatumr
2.1 / 5 (11) Jun 18, 2011
As climate talks sputter, . . .


1. Former proponents of the UN's global warming story, like Mark Lynas, are asking the UN's IPCC to answer pointed questions:

www.marklynas.org...-answer/

2. First-class climatologists are moving away from global climate claims by Al Gore and the UN's IPCC:

http://judithcurr...-review/

3. Wind mills are being exposed as dangerous and unreliable energy generators

http://windconcer...utshell/

The story of CO2-induced global warming is coming apart at the seams.

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo
Cin5456
5 / 5 (3) Jun 18, 2011
NikFromNYC: Your reference site: http://www.woodfo...02/trend


The graph generator from woodfortrees.org (from your point 1 above) is quite handy if you change the beginning year date to 1980. It shows a clear trend of rising temperatures, a rise of about 0.55 over the thirty year period. This is using your own reference. Try it.

The fact that there has not been significant temperature change in the US in the last decade doesn't change the fact that the rest of the world is exhibiting temperature increases.

I believe, though it is just conjecture, that the melting of the arctic ice is feeding cold water into the Eastern Pacific to the decadal oscillation, which currently is the driving force behind weather in the US, along with the La Nina that we had for the last year. These two phenomenon are strong enough to effect temperatures across the continent, and specifically in the Midwest, where anti-GW proponents are cherry picking their no warming data from.
Cin5456
5 / 5 (1) Jun 19, 2011
Damn, I can't get that quote thing to work right. Characters are being deleted as I post. They are there one minute, then gone the nezxt.
Cin5456
5 / 5 (5) Jun 19, 2011
Oliver, all your references are blogs. How does that add in any way to the science? It doesn't.
omatumr
1.5 / 5 (8) Jun 19, 2011
Damn, I can't get that quote thing to work right.


It doesn't matter.

The entire story of CO2-Induced Global Warming AGW) is now falling apart.

www.marklynas.org...-answer/
Cin5456
4.3 / 5 (6) Jun 19, 2011
I've read the blog. It has no bearing on the facts of Global Warming. I promised myself I would not get involved in a tit-for-tat conversation. Suffice to say that the data still supports Global Warming. Enough said.
KingDWS
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 19, 2011
We are on the verge of a solar maxis. The Earth warming has relatively nothing to do with Earth, and is mainly caused by the Sun. In 10 years they will be saying what we need to do to fight global cooling.


It's not in ten years they are saying that now as well. Supposedly a repeat of the mini ice age.
thermodynamics
5 / 5 (2) Jun 19, 2011
KingDWS : You said: "It's not in ten years they are saying that now as well. Supposedly a repeat of the mini ice age."

Where do you get this startling information? Please show any scientific papers or reputable scientific source that are saying this. A reference for such a statement would be appropriate. My bet is that you can't find any source other than Rush or FoxNews. Every measure shows the Earth warming since the last ice age. Every scientific prediction shows it continuing to warm. Now we have a single paper predicting a sun spot minimum (which has not been proven) and you are saying we are in a repeat of a mini ice age. Please show your work and give us your references for this unfounded claim.
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (2) Jun 19, 2011
@thermodynamics:

The truth is often shrouded in doublespeak. For instance, NOAA routinely proclaims: "the (X)th warmest such period on record(!)" but generally don't bother to state the described period is substantially cooler than the previous year(s).

That is, if we go from having the warmest year on record to subsequent years which are less than the warmest such value, then hasn't it actually been cooler? Why don't they say that?

http://www.ncdc.n.../global/

And by stating:

The average Southern Hemisphere land surface temperature for the year to date tied with 1994 as the 26th warmest JanuaryMay on record while the ocean surface temperature tied with 1983 as 11th warmest.

...aren't they really saying something like, "Wow! The southern hemisphere has really cooled off this year!"

Why does all their language and graphics relate everthing to "warmest?" Why not relate it all to coolest? Isn't that equally objective?

omatumr
1.6 / 5 (7) Jun 20, 2011
the data still supports Global Warming. Enough said.


You may be right. I don't think so.

Neither do many well-known scientists:

R. W. Fairbridge and J. H. Shirley, Prolonged minima and the 179-yr cycle of the solar
inertial motion, Solar Physics 110 (1987) 191-220.

H. Svensmark, Cosmic rays and Earths climate, Space Science Reviews (2000)
1555-1666.

O. K. Manuel, B. W. Ninham and S. E. Friberg, Superfluidity in the solar interior:
Implications for solar eruptions and climate, Journal of Fusion Energy 21 (2002) 193-198.

T. Landscheidt, "New Little Ice Age instead of Global Warming?, Energy & Environment 114 (2003) 327-350.

S. Yousef, 80-120 yr long-term solar induced effects on the Earth: Past and predictions,
Physics and Chemistry of the Earth 31 (2006) 113-122.

J. Shirley, Axial rotation, orbital revolution and solar spin-orbit coupling, Monthly
Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 368 (2006) 280-282.

Etc.
thermodynamics
4.3 / 5 (6) Jun 20, 2011
omatumr: Your ego is showing when you quote yourself in the group of: "many well-known scientists." The only thing you are well known for is self publishing and pushing your view that the Sun has a neutron star in its center. That hardly puts you in the well known scientist realm - maybe you belong in the well known braggart realm.
thermodynamics
4.3 / 5 (3) Jun 20, 2011
ubavontuba: I am not sure what you are really trying to suggest. You say: "...aren't they really saying something like, "Wow! The southern hemisphere has really cooled off this year!"
As your example, you use: "The average Southern Hemisphere land surface temperature for the year to date tied with 1994 as the 26th warmest JanuaryMay on record while the ocean surface temperature tied with 1983 as 11th warmest."

If they were to use your approach of looking at it from the cold side (since the records on the page you point to for your reference uses 1880 as the base) they would have to say it was approximately (because I don't know the number of ties) the 110th coldest since recording began in 1880. To me it seems that talking about what it is close to (warmest) makes more sense than talking about what it is farthest from (coldest). Either way it is very far from coldest and not too far from warmest. How do you want it? Either way it was warm.
ubavontuba
1.7 / 5 (7) Jun 20, 2011
Either way it is very far from coldest and not too far from warmest. How do you want it? Either way it was warm.
How about stating it in a way that's grammaticaly neutral and simply reports the facts?

For instance, couldn't they simply state: "The average Southern Hemisphere land surface temperature for the year to date tied with 1994." and: "The ocean surface temperature tied with 1983."

That they don't bother to report the dramatic cooling, and rather appear to go out of their way to avoid using the word "cooling," appears particularly telling of their bias.

omatumr
1 / 5 (5) Jun 20, 2011
Those seriously interested in Earth's climate will want to read the paper that forecast the Sun's current slumber:

T. Landscheidt, "New Little Ice Age instead of Global Warming?, Energy & Environment 114 (2003) 327-350.

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
frenchie
4 / 5 (4) Jun 20, 2011
Y2kyoto: Climate Change was a specific death threat and a criminal exaggeration, and was not about sustainability or doing the right thing.
Most of the Canadian and American rust belts have not had ONE single smog day in over FIVE YEARS. (only constant reports of "ALERTS" to a potential of a smog warning/day developing)
I'm not the only one contacting authorities and law makers and the justice departments to have the leading scientists and NEWS EDITORS charged for this needless panic of a false war called Climate Change. We missed getting Bush. We need a Nuremberg Trial again.


Why are you posting the same thing in every article? Wanna stop needlessly posting off topic opinions and rather comment on the article?

Reported for spamming.
barakn
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 20, 2011
Would that be the same T. Landscheidt that forecast an extreme, probably positive, would occur at "2004.5" in the NAO index? And in reality the NAO index was weak the entire year of 2004? That's the thing about astrologers that make a lot of predictions. By chance some of them will be right the same way you'll be right half the time will flipping a coin a thousand times.
GSwift7
2.3 / 5 (4) Jul 01, 2011
If they were to use your approach of looking at it from the cold side (since the records on the page you point to for your reference uses 1880 as the base) they would have to say it was approximately (because I don't know the number of ties) the 110th coldest since recording began in 1880.


Just FYI, the NOAA record go back 116 years, to about 1895. The records prior to something like 1970, whenever NOAA was formed, were kept by the Commerce Department. Those early records were never meant to be used for climate study in the manner we now use them. Any good researcher knows that you can't trust data that you didn't collect for yourself, and especially when it was taken for some other purpose.
ryggesogn2
1.5 / 5 (8) Jul 02, 2011
"An Oxford academic has won the right to read previously secret data on climate change held by the University of East Anglia (UEA). The decision, by the government's information commissioner, Christopher Graham, is being hailed as a landmark ruling that will mean that thousands of British researchers are required to share their data with the public."
http://www.guardi...P=twt_fd
Mann, too, tried to keep is hockey stick data proprietary.
omatumr
1 / 5 (4) Jul 02, 2011
"An Oxford academic has won the right to read previously secret data on climate change held by the University of East Anglia (UEA).

http://www.guardi...P=twt_fd

Mann, too, tried to keep is hockey stick data proprietary.


Thanks, ryggesogn2, for the information.

As the climate scandal unfolds, Science has even started to be receptive to comments from climate skeptics on the damage inflicted by the scandal of CO2-induced global warming:

www.sciencenews.o...ientists

The scoundrels that led us into this mess may not know how to get out of it.

So hang in there!
Oliver K. Manuel

thermodynamics
5 / 5 (1) Jul 02, 2011
I am glad to see that the data will be made available for others to analyze. I think that all data should be reviewed and should have alternate groups analyzing it to find issues that anyone will run into with massive data bases. Anyone who thinks they have done a perfect job analyzing noisy data needs to find a new job.
Having said that, it will be interesting to have those getting the data subject to the same scrutiny that they have given the UEA. We should see their results soon after they get the data since they have been running sample data bases for a few years. I can't wait to see both their results and their methods. I will also be interested in how they "cull" the data (based on their stated preference for specific weather stations). Now they can make their results, approach, and algorithms public and subject to review.
omatumr
1 / 5 (3) Jul 02, 2011
I am glad to see that the data will be made available for others to analyze.


Me too. That is all that we asked.

Instead of releasing data to verify CO2-induced global warming,

a.) Scary films [1] were made and given to schools as "scientific facts."

b.) The tailpipe of the once-thriving Western economy was pinched off.

c.) Government-paid scientists claimed the public had no right to see the data.

The data - if actually released - will either confirm that:

a.) CO2 causes global warming [1], or

b.) The Sun causes climate change [2].

I strongly suspect that the data will confirm [2].

References:

1. "An Inconvenient Truth" by Al Gore

www.climatecrisis.net/

2. "Earth's Heat Source - The Sun", Energy and Environment 20, 131-144 (2009)

http://arxiv.org/pdf/0905.0704


GSwift7
1 / 5 (2) Jul 05, 2011
Having said that, it will be interesting to have those getting the data subject to the same scrutiny that they have given the UEA.


That isn't likely. Contrary views are not usually published and when legitemate problems are found with published studies after they have passed peer review, corrections are rarely made. Mann just released a sea level study with some really obvious short-comings, including a reference to one of his own previous studies which also had some serious problems. Neither the current nor previous study will ever be corrected. That's just one high profile example. There are many others. This is just my opinion, but the recent trend in Journals towards rapid publication doesn't seem to be working very well. It's great if you're trying to influence a political situation, but it isn't good science. The suplementary journals which have a mix of peer review and non-peer reviewed material are even worse. Editorials in journals? Hmmmm.