So over at Keith Kloor's place, we see Keith read a comment of Michael Tobis', (read it for your self here) in which he says: "Adaptation is crucial" and "adaptation and mitigation are not a tradeoff. They are two faces of the same coin." along with a whole bunch of, typical for Tobis, nuanced and intelligent points.
What does Keith want his readers to take away from that? That Michael Tobis is a hypocrite who does not really care about suffering humanity and his whole schtick is "the typical zero-sum talking point, that mitigation (curbing carbon emissions) has to take precedence over adaptation".
So, okay, Keith has jumped the shark, the question is will he admit it and jump back? I strongly advocate allowing people to err in public as long as they simply acknowledge they were wrong and move forward. Let's watch and wait for that one...
[update: As happens when you are late to the party, by the time you catch up, you are already behind again. Keith walked this back 6 days ago here:
5. The charge: That I distorted a comment from Michael Tobis in one of my threads and used it as ammunition in a separate post where I called him hypocritical.
Answer: I'm going to cop to this charge-but not the assertion that I did it willfully. I've thought about this a lot since that post appeared and have concluded that I should have been more careful in my choice of words. I happen to think that there are worse things than being called hypocritical (such as evil or deceptive), but I'm now inclined to agree that I treated Michael unfairly in that post. I made a poorly constructed argument for hypocrisy and in doing so made some leaps I shouldn't have, and for that I apologize to Michael.
Well done, Keith.
Yes, that is pretty boring, cut and dried soap opera fare. But as usual the good stuff is in the comment threads because for whatever (probably temporary) reason, Collide-a-scape attracts lots of interesting people. I found the exchage between Judith Curry and Michael Tobis quite interesting. For your convenience, and assuming an interest, here are quotes of and links to that exchange (this enterprise got bigger than I anticipated, oh well can't stop now). The general topic is the Russian heat wave, the Pakistani floods and the idea that this is something more than just weather flukiness:
Extreme events having the potential for catastrophe (e.g. floods, droughts, hurricanes, heat waves) have always been with us and always will. Paleoclimate records suggest that the last 100 years has been a particularly benign climate in terms of drought and hurricanes. Given our vulnerability, floods, droughts, hurricanes, heat waves already produce much damage and suffering. Even over the course of natural variability, such extreme events might get worse. Even in a cooler climate, we will still have plenty of disastrous droughts, floods, hurricanes (big heat waves are less likely, but more people actually lose their lives from cold).
Kevin Trenberth is very fond of attributing a % of a particular disaster to global warming: it was 7% for Katrina and I think I saw 5% for the Pakistan floods. Even if you think this attribution is convincing (I don't), well what about the other 95% of the Pakistan flood waters? Etc.
Adaptation to reduce vulnerability to extreme events isn't just about expensive infrastructure, that only the developed world can afford. Its also about getting some advance warning of the particular disaster (10 days or even 5 days is a huge help) and having an emergency management plan in place to evacuate people, their livestock, their seeds, and anything else that their future livelihood depends on. If you didn't read Webster's paper on Bangladesh when I posted it earlier, here they are again.
So the Pakistani floods were the worst in 800 years? Yeah, that global warming 800 years ago must have caused alot of problems. An understanding of what is going on with this year's weather is provided by Sir Brian Hoskins in the Economist. Its a blocking pattern. The heat wave in Russia, which is expected once a millennia, might happen once in 100 years with global warming.
There are some good arguments for CO2 mitigation, but even if successful it would not prevent extreme weather events. If our primary vulnerability is to extreme weather events rather than slow creep issues like sea level rise and ocean acidification, then adaptation should have a front and center place in our strategies. And the very fact that adaptation measures are local helps garner local political support for them, since the affected communities can clearly identify their own common interest in these adaptation measures.
A successful CO2 mitigation program isn't going to help that much with floods, droughts, or hurricanes (will help with heat waves, but again more people die in the cold), we will always have them. We just need to get over that idea.
[did she really say "So the Pakistani floods were the worst in 800 years? Yeah, that global warming 800 years ago must have caused alot of problems."?? Unbelievable. I expect that from lay people unfamiliar with this kind of discussion but this is her field. If it were any other working climate expert than Judith Curry I would assume that she knows something and there was an extreme flooding event 801 years ago, but let's consider her record on blog postings!]
The question is whether this blocking pattern was available to the system before the recent changes to climate forcing at all.
For one thing, once you start talking about a 10,000 year heat wave, as some people are doing, you are abusing the concept of climate, as you start getting into the time scale of large natural climate changes. The quasi-equilibrium we usually start our conversations with simply doesn't correspond to reality.
For another, a claim that event X is the largest in 800 years is a different claim than that event X has an 800 year mean repeat interval (in a quasi-stationary climate). One often sees them conflated as in "what happened 801 years ago?" It should be made clear whether one is talking about a statistical construct or an actual historical event. Did something actually happen in Pakistan in 1210 AD? Or is "800â³ a statistical artifact, or for that matter a SWAG?
For a third, once climate forcing really gets going, we lose the quasi-stationary assumption altogether. Repeat intervals ("100 year floods", "500 year heat waves") become meaningless as the mathematical concept of climate breaks down altogether, and we find ourselves just in a massive transient adjustment (like the Younger Dryas period).
Putting all this together, the idea that events like the present disasters in Asia are not attributable to climate change (or, more correctly, to rapidly changing anthropogenic climate forcing) becomes highly problematic. We see a blocking pattern that has never been seen before. OK, a curiosity. That blocking pattern persists for ten weeks and counting. Now that is something that is need of an actual dynamic explanation. How can a pattern be so stable this year when it has never been seen before as far as anyone can tell? The simplest explanation is that something in the boundary conditions has changed. Now what might that be?
And this raises the problem that Lazar just raised on my blog. We can only adapt to phenomena we have already seen or have a very strong reason to suspect are coming. With a year's warning, Moscow could easily have built heat/smoke refuges that could have dramatically reduced mortality and injury. Presumably, once the dust settles (literally) they will do so. But who could have foreseen this exact bizarre event? How could anyone have allocated the resources for such a scheme?
What would the response have been? "Please! It hardly ever gets to 25C in Moscow! Heat refuges, the idea! And those particle filters, what arrant nonsense! Please, I have a city of ten million to manage, I have trouble even keeping the plumbing working, kindly don't bother me with fantasies!"
So it would be good at the least to have "adaptation" clearly defined in a context of rapid climate change. How high should the levees be? How deep inland should the evacuation routes go? What exactly should we adapt to?
While weather disasters are not going away, the claim that "a successful CO2 mitigation program isn't going to help that much with floods, droughts, or hurricanes," is not remotely obvious or certain. Current events clearly weigh against this assertion.
Michael, we have good weather analyses for maybe 60 years. We have pretty much no idea what blocking patterns might have occurred prior to say 1950. And what about the record cold in South America? Should we blame this on global warming also? Lots of lives being lost among the indigenous peoples who have little shelter. Lots of very big floods have occurred in other regions over the past several centuries. I agree that the Russian heat wave is an exceptional event.
Climate isn't stationary. We have pretended that it is for the latter half of the 20th century, with engineers having their little tables based on one in 100 year events, etc. The fact that this worked at all is a testament to the benign climate we had in the latter half of the 20th century. Natural climate variability has provided plenty of catastrophes in the past and will do so in the future. Whether (and which of) these will be worse in a warmer climate is not known very well. Climate models simply don't make any kind of reliable hurricane projections. Climate models are also lousy at precipitation, and they are generally lousy at extreme events (on the tail). As Brian Hoskins says in the Economist, we have no idea whether such blocking events would be worse or not with global warming.
I'm saying we just don't know. But as I have said over and over, we need to pay alot more attention to the plausible worst case scenario (and figuring out what it actually is), as a combination of both natural variability and anthropogenic warming. Then figure out what our vulnerabilities are (and these are local). Then factor all this into some sort sensible and supportive combination of polices. Using two extreme events linked to a single weather pattern as an argument in favor of CO2 mitigation policy just isn't convincing. These extreme events are a wakeup call for how we should actually be imagining the plausible worst case scenarios for the next century. But they only factor into the overall reasoning about policy options as I described at the beginning of this paragraph.
The emotional impact of Hurricane Katrina and the dread of such future events really helped turned the tide of public awareness and support for global warming, for the first time they understood that 1-2 degrees warming could have a catastrophic impact. But the public has matured (for the most part) beyond buying each cold wave as disproving global warming and each heat wave or devastating landfalling hurricane as proof of the need for CO2 mitigation. Using the events in Russia and Pakistan to kick start carbon stabilization policies just isn't going to work, because people still remember how cold it was last winter. You need a better argument than this.
It is not impossible for unprecedented cold outbreaks to result from unprecedented hemispheric flows, so while it would be abuse to language as well as sense to blame cold temperatures in South America on "global warming", it's not impossible that it is a response to anthropogenic climate change. Now it may be revealing of my own prejudices and those of the people I follow that I know less about the South American event than I do about the Asian one. So I don't actually know what happened meteorologically. Judith, if you do, please fill me in.
Entre nous, let's acknowledge that "global warming" is a very bad name for what we are doing to the system, anyway.
Otherwise, I am totally with you until you get to "Using two extreme events linked to a single weather pattern as an argument in favor of CO2 mitigation policy just isn't convincing." Then you start to get into what will or won't convince the public of this or that, and generally into the journalistic horse-race mentality and the whole Colorado "politically impossible therefore not to be advocated" paralysis. This whole line of reasoning is murdering the democratic process, and I reject it.
Let's talk about what's true, and what's possible and what's unlikely. Let's talk about how to explain it to the public. Let's talk about how to digest it into informed policy. But let's not talk about what sells. Therein lies the problem, not the solution.
In fact, the two extreme events linked to a single weather pattern have changed my own thinking about the problem. This is an event of a different nature than, say, a single thosand year flood in middle Tennessee. There are at least thousand places the size of the part of Tennessee that got a thousand year flood, so we expect such a thousand year event on average annually, somewhere.
We only have two hemispheres. A once-in-a-thousand-year configuration (sort of, we really don't know the repeat interval for the reasons you mention; Rob Carver comes up with over 15,000 years with plenty of caveats attached) of the jet stream is something to at least make a person sit up and take notice. Whether this wake-up call is or isn't convincing to others is not an issue that I think is worth discussing. Whether or not I am correct to find that it changes the picture is much more interesting.
By the way, as a result of related discussion I have learned that there are global reanalysis products going back as far as 1869. Here is the project and here are their data.
Michael, public opinion doesn't matter very much on global warming policy. Yes, they are voters, but climate change etc doesn't rank in the top 10 issues on too many voter's lists. So all these efforts to convince the "public" are pretty much a waste of time. What you need is to convince the policy makers, and that ain't going to happen until some politically patalable policy options emerge.
Yes I am familiar with the new reanalysis project going back to 1969. I served on Gil Compo's thesis committee about 15 years ago, and I have been aware of this project for a long time. It is a brand new data set, it has not yet been scrutinized and assessed for its plausibility in getting upper air circulations correct.
Whether what happens in one locale is a one in 1000 or one in 15,000 event doesn't make a difference to my critique of your argument. We have no way of attributing this event to CO2. And global warming wasn't happening 15,000 years ago.
I'm still saying you need a better argument. I use global warming interchangeably with AGW; climate change can be associated with range of factors, so I don't use that word when referring specifically to AGW.
[She did it again! "And global warming wasn't happening 15,000 years ago." Does she not understand probabilites? "One in 15000" does not mean "once every 15000"]
It's IPCC not IPGW for a reason. Human activities dominate contemporary climate change, but in a context (discussing hostirical or paleo evidence) where it matters, one can say "ACC" rather than "AGW".
Global warming is just a symptom. We aren't forcing the surface temperature, we are forcing the radiative transfer; the inputs via aerosols and the outputs via greenhouse gases. To talk about this or that event being caused by "global warming" artificially limits and distorts the conversation in my opinion even in informed circles. It has led to endless and excessive fascination with the minutiae of global mean surface temperature.
The reason to focus on CO2 mitigation over other greenhouse forcings in public discussions is that CO2 mitigation is necessary and difficult and expensive and slow. So the public has to get solidly and permanently behind it. Of course we should be going after other greenhouse gases ASAP, but this is not as politically difficult.
The likelihood of some other form of energy replacing fossil fuels that is cost-effective requires a change in relative costs. As a first step, direct and indirect subsidies to fossil fuels must stop. Probably direct subsidies to alternatives must start. If people don't understand the necessity of this they experience the short term costs and not see the long term benefits. They will punish the party that does it and reward the party that refuses.
That's why the public needs to understand the problem. There really is no alternative. Even in the unlikely event that some carbon-free fuel cheaper than coal emerges, the coal interests will be jockeying to twist the market in their direction. Actual industries have more political power than potential industries. The only way out is through telling the truth.
Michael, you are dead right on this one:
"As a first step, direct and indirect subsidies to fossil fuels must stop. "
This is an AGW policy that even the libertarians can love.
And I will wrap it up there, as usual I was too late to the party for there being any point to chiming in. Personally, I suspect Judith Curry is a libertarian and this is what motivates her to undermine climate change policy initiatives as she does.
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Well this probably isn't worth commenting on, but there are a number of different ways to interpret a 1 in 800 year event. The way I interpret such a statement (without any further clarification) is as a nominal return period, i.e. such as described at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Return_period
There was a thread at RP Jr's site and also weatherunderground that discussed different ways of interpreting such a statement, or calculating such a number. there are many different ways to interpret such a statement.
I guess you're not following the blog slime. The answer to your question is contained in this post:
[Sorry for the late drive-by, Keith, and thanks for making that oh-so-rare move in the blogosphere, admitting a mistake. I have updated the post.]
Back on 8/20, Keith apologized. You're 5 days late and how many dollars short?
Actually, read the whole post on C-a-S "The Brushback,"and discover how truly late to the party you actually are.
I am learning how to use HTML. Keith beat me to the punch!
There are two issues at play here â adaption vs mitigation; and the attribution of specific weather events to climate change.
Touching on the second one first, both Tobis and Curry have reasonable points, and from my perspective they seem to agree more than they disagree. Of course it is virtually impossible to attribute a specific weather event to climate change, but by the same token, it is disingenuous to try to deny that a rise in the number of extreme events has nothing to do with climate change, and is just ânatural variabilityâ or coincidence. A single one in a thousand year event can happen tomorrow, and we would have to expect that is a reasonably possibility. Two x one in a thousand year events can happen tomorrow, and while it would be highly unlikely to occur naturally, it is not beyond the bounds of credibility. However, if extreme events keep occurring over and over again, we have to discount âcoincidenceâ and accept that something is happening to cause this to occur. I believe it is stupid to try and argue the cause for climate change mitigation on the basis of single weather events like the Pakistani floods, but it is perfectly acceptable to âgroupâ events under the banner of weather catastrophes as a basis of argument. If you put a dollar in a poker machine (sorry â slot machine) and got the jackpot on your first try you would just think yourself lucky. If you got a jackpot on your second and third try as well, you would tend to think there was something wrong with the machine.
Regarding adaption vs mitigation, I would not call them âtwo faces of the same coinâ, because that to me suggests they are opposite and you can only have one at a time (maybe its just a bad metaphor). Both adaption and mitigation are required; however, the less mitigation you do, the more adaption you will have to do. But I tend to think it has gone beyond that. Both are absolutely critical, because change has already occurred, and we need to adapt to that change, as well as mitigate against future change.
There were other issues discussed that I both agree and disagree with. For example, I disagree VERY strongly with this statement by Judith Curry:
â....Michael, public opinion doesn't matter very much on global warming policy. Yes, they are voters, but climate change etc doesn't rank in the top 10 issues on too many voter's lists. So all these efforts to convince the "public" are pretty much a waste of time. What you need is to convince the policy makers, and that ain't going to happen until some politically patalable policy options emerge....â
Public opinion is critical to this whole debate, because policy makers do not make policy in a vacuum and tend to just reflect the views of their constituents. And while US voters may be ignorant of the issues and not have climate change in their top 10 (Iâm not too sure of that by the way), I can assure Dr Curry that it is a concern here in Australia, and I suspect in places like Europe as well.
Of course, there were the other issues as you did suggest, but to me they just amounted to some personal sniping etc, and I did not think they were all that worthy of comment (and I don't know the guys anyway).
"Both are absolutely critical, because change has already occurred, and we need to adapt to that change, as well as mitigate against future change."
Could you please list the changes that have already occurred and how AGW is linked to these changes.
Ummmmmm - no.
If you are seriously asking me to list every change that has occurred in the world as a result of AGW, and how that is linked to AGW, then can I ask you a question?
Where can I get some of that stuff you are smoking?
Let me rephrase the question, is this statement "Both are absolutely critical, because change has already occurred, and we need to adapt to that change, as well as mitigate against future change." your opinion or is it backed up by any scientific fact.
Where does J get her info from about the "record cold" in South America?
I've only seen stuff saying that it's the coldest in 10 years for Argentina. Probably I've been looking in the wrong places, but I've not seen anything to say that any of these countries have broken any longstanding records.
Yes, Adelady you have to worry about an alleged climate scientist, when the bulk of their thinking seems to parrot cockamamie denier reasoning. I don't think Judith Curry realizes all her stupid internet comments are going to haunt her for a very, very long time.
Dr Curry, from your link supplied in #1:
So I still don't understand why you would say what you said (twice: 800 year flood and 15,000 yr heat wave).
I appreciate the "intelligent and nuanced" very much. It's been a rough week. I've been busy adapting, but a sincere compliment goes a long way toward mitigating it.
Cody, a return period of say 800 years implies that there were events of this magnitude that happened sometime in the previous millennium. If the signal from AGW is basically since 1975, and this recent event is attributed to AGW, then what should we attribute the previous event that happened sometime in the last millenium, that was associated with the 800 year return period? My statement did not mean to imply that such an event happened 800 years ago, but was made to point out what i think is the absurdity of attributing such events to AGW.
A return period of 800 years can easily be calculated to have a probability of 28.6% that the event did not occur in 1000 years of stable climate, which is hardly negligible.
It is not "absurd" to attribute an "800 year event" (such a repeat interval cannot really be well-characterized) to forcing; it is merely speculative. If the 800 year event is local, and there are 800 more or less independent localities at that scale, the mean repeat time of that category of event is annual, so a single event is not in itself strong evidence. But if dozens of such events start showing up, the picture changes.
The recent events in Russia and Pakistan are somewhat different because of their physical scale. Such large scale events cannot happen independently. You only get to roll the dice once (for unprecendented persistent jet stream anomalies), not hundreds of times. (At best once per hemisphere per season.)
There is nothing absurd about considering whether the distribution has shifted, given that we have every reason to expect the distribution to shift sooner or later, and that we have seen a persistent pattern for which we cannot quantify a repeat interval.
I could be wrong, but I don't think anyone's attributing any single extreme weather event exclusively and emphatically to manmade activities, as Curry implies.
The comparison between the extreme Russian heatwave and the cold anomalies in South America (Argentina to be more precise) doesn't make much sense, considering the relative magnitude of each event.
It has been cold in other parts of the SHemi as well as Argentina.
Looks like we agree - it's been cold lately! But then, that tends to happen during winter.
Oh, and on the subject of 'wow its cold so global warming is all a crock!', that I have seen lately in a few well known flatearth websites, we should look at what the picture for the globe is as a whole. Here it is:
To summarise, despite the supposedly record cold in Argentina (which as Adelady pointed has out, aren't really records at all), the land surface temperature during July 2010 was the warmest on record, and the global land/sea temperature was the second warmest on record.
In post 19 are you just taking the piss out of me?
It has been cold you know, August was coldest in 40 years and winter coldest in 13. I was merely adding to what Mark had said.
I am well aware that 2010 is another record breaker in the making with the Nth pole warming alarmingly, what is even more alarming is that there is no thermometer within 1200 kilometers of the pole. But still a record is a record and we all like records dont we.
That anomaly map - lovely big patches of blue over western South America. Do we know if that is typical for a La Nina year?
I recall a so-called La Nina a while ago that was predicted and merely stuttered and stumbled around without doing anything useful. It'd be nice to know that this month's rainfall is a sign of better things to come for a while.
I seem to recall when a prediction from some weather guy (a dickhead by any standard here) stated that as the PDO was now -ve we will get stronger La Ninas he predicted much higher rain fall in QLD and NSW and sth Aust. Well that was 3 years ago and by gee he was right wasnt he.
So yes we still have 20 or so years of a -ve PDO so i expect things will be better for a while.
Not withstanding model outputs that beg to differ
Crakar, the regular PDO frequency thing is a denier myth. See:
"I could be wrong, but I don't think anyone's attributing any single extreme weather event exclusively and emphatically to manmade activities, as Curry implies." - Mandas
Moves are afoot to do exactly that.
Time to blame climate change for extreme weather
Wrong attribution, should be Mark B.
"what is even more alarming is that there is no thermometer within 1200 kilometers of the pole." - Crackar
There's 5 stations within a 1200km radius of the North Pole.
Hmmm......was just thinking, wonder where I could buy a watch at a really low price?.
We'll never know now, as all 25 of those helpful comments have been deleted. Sorry, I didn't know you were in the market!
Re your comment at post #27. What I find really amazing about the denialist creed such as crakar's latest nonsense is how easy it is to disprove, and how totally lacking in contrition the deniers are when their idiocy is pointed out to them. In regard to the moronic claim about there being 'no thermometers within 1200 km of the North Pole, all you have to do is a simple Google search and you can discover this:
Its a very nice map, and you can even click on the weather station sites and get a near real-time read out of the weather conditions. But then, I guess research is not one of the strong points evident in a denier - if they did any they might find out just how flawed their worldview is.
Oh, and I'm interested in this statement at post #21:
".....It has been cold you know, August was coldest in 40 years.....
Just so I'm straight on this, you posted that on the 26th August, yet somehow you managed to refer to August in the past tense. Don't you think it would be better to wait until the month is actually over before doing that?
And would you please enlighten us all with the source of your information please.
Mandas, doh! that's much better, I looked up the Arctic stations via the NASA GISS site.
At least Crakar has slightly modified his bogus claim. A month or so back, he was claiming there were no temp stations in the Arctic Circle!.
27, apart from saying i am wrong DW how about you show where these 5 thermometers are and if they are used in part to calculate the global temps which show we are in for another record breaker.
Ummmmmmm - how about you read my post #30, then click on the map.
I got the info about August etc from a story in the Adelaide addy from the BOM, of course the BOM do not dwell on such trivial matters as you in an attempt to have an argument.
So in your link to the Arctic temps can you tell me which of these sites are used by GISS in their latest attempt to break a record?
Don't back down now, crakar. They've got their precious accuracy, but you have your unassailable certainty.
I just checked the BOM website, and they have all the summary information for autumn and July, but nothing yet for August or winter. Maybe they are waiting for the end of the month.
Dont understand 36?
Rather than just snipe from the bushes Pough, step to the plate my boy and have a swing. Maybe you can be the first to tell me how many thermometers in the Arctic circle are used by GISS. Come on dont be shy
38, Well then keep checking Mandas.
Dapple/Mandas - From the athropolis map, I get 1 station (Alert) within 1200km, but about 5 stations within 1200 miles. NOt that it makes much differences, anyway you slice it, the land/ocean based temp monitoring system has some big gaps. But the satellite's certainly support the abnormally warm artic temps.
And the rapidly declining ice volume too Bobn. Have the deniers ever worked out why there's no temp station on the sea ice?.
There are other stations within 1200 km which aren't on the map - Eureka for example.