2011-04-14 10:14:25Muller Misinformation #4: Time to Act
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
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I put together a post based on a comment Muller made in his recent NPR interview.  It might be a little choppy because I started out focusing on his claim that anthropogenic warming so far could be as low as 0.3°C, but technically although very unlikely, this is true.  More importantly, he said that in this scenario we have plenty of time to reduce GHG emissions, which is untrue, so I switched the focus to that part, while still addressing the attribution.  Anyway, I hope it turned out okay.  Let me know what you think.

Muller Misinformation #4: Time to Act

2011-04-14 10:25:47
grypo

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This is possibly just nit-picky, I really like this post, but here:

3) Approximately 33% of the equilibrium surface warming from the greenhouse gas emissions so far is still unrealized, but inevitable. Remember that at a minimum they've caused 0.71°C warming so far, which means that in the absolute best case scenario we're committed to at least 1°C warming, with 2°C considered the 'danger limit', and greenhouse gas emissions continuing to accelerate.


Even in Muller's unlikely optimistic scenario, we still don't have "a lot more time" to get our greenhouse gas emissions under control.

People may look at that and say 'hey, 1.7 is less than 2' without actually understanding what it would take to keep it under 2C.  A sentence with a link to something (have emission scenarios and timing been discussed her?) would help there, I think.

It's a great post either way.

2011-04-14 12:40:09thanks
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.97.203

Actually it's "1 is less than 2".  Good point, I should quantitatively assess how soon we'd commit ourselves to 2°C in that best case scenario.  Thanks grypo.

2011-04-14 12:58:14
grypo

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I was thinking that people would add togehter the already realized .7C and the 1C we're committed to.  

2011-04-14 13:41:46added
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
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Tricky question, because it's tough to project aerosols and non-CO2 GHGs in the future.  But basically unless we get onto the IPCC 'B' SRES scenarios, even in the best case we can't avoid 2°C eventual warming.  So I added a paragraph on that.  Hopefully it's clear enough.

2011-04-14 22:14:28
grypo

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That's very clear.  Looks good.

2011-04-15 01:36:22
nealjking

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"At the very least, human greenhouse gas emissions have caused 0.71°C warming of surface temperatures so far.  Thus Muller's optimistic scenario in which humans have only caused 0.3 to 0.4°C warming requires a substantial cooling effect from human aerosol emissions."

=>

"At the very least, human greenhouse gas emissions have generated 0.71°C warming of surface temperatures so far.  Thus Muller's optimistic scenario in which humans have only caused 0.3 to 0.4°C warming implies a substantial cooling effect from human aerosol emissions."

////////////////////////

"3) Approximately 33% of the equilibrium surface warming from the greenhouse gas emissions so far is still unrealized, but inevitable. Remember that at a minimum they've caused 0.71°C warming so far,"

=>

"3) Approximately 33% of the equilibrium surface warming from the greenhouse gas emissions so far is still unrealized, but inevitable. Remember that at a minimum they've generated 0.71°C warming so far,"

2011-04-15 05:31:27roger
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
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69.230.97.203

Changes made, thanks neal.

2011-04-15 09:48:04
logicman

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minor typo - Dr. Richard Muller made the folliwing following ...

 

I have to agree with much of what Muller had to say.  However,  reading between the lines, he seems to support the deniers' argument that there is no need to rush to find solutions to the climate change problem.

"... that's the irony. The policy decisions are so urgent that people tend to abandon the scientific method."

What people?  This is just hand waving and gives ammo to the 'we don't need to rush' deniers.

 

But is it .4? Is it .3? If so, we have a lot more time. Is it .6 or.7? If so, we're in a big rush.

Muller presents the argument as alternate scenarios.  The rebuttal should, I suggest, start with a brief statement of just how bad the 'we're in a big rush' scenario is, and then continue with: but even if things are not that bad we do not have a lot of time to address the problem.  Here is why ...

 

Main article body continues here ...

 

Just my two cents pence. ( British! )

2011-04-15 10:01:32thanks
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.97.203

Thanks logicman, good points.  I'll have to think about it a bit more, then revise.  This is a tricky post.

2011-04-16 19:28:25Suggested changes
James Wight

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  • “three important factors to keep in mind” --> “three important points to keep in mind”
  • 2°C considered the ‘danger limit’” --> “2°C or lower considered the ‘danger limit’”
  • “If we could just fip a switch” --> “If we could just flip a switch”

Also, as well as outlining the best-case, I think you could mention the worst-case (which is based on paleoclimate, not models): even current CO2 levels, if sustained, could eventually take us over 2°C of warming.

2011-04-19 06:06:32revised
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
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64.129.227.4

I revised the post again.  I think it's a bit clearer now.  Let me know what you think.

2011-04-19 08:33:50
grypo

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Part of Muller's study is looking at UHI, so in theory, he could find more than the .05C that the IPCC suggests.  But he has also said that none of the arguments by skeptics are significant.  This might also factor into your math if you take a conservative, but less than significant number for UHI.  Possible .1 to .12C or something like that.

###

"Hypothetically, it's possible that this scenario is reality, but the probability is much lower than Dr. Muller suggests."

I'd change that sentence because the word 'probability' makes it seem like he went in depth into what you are diuscussing.  His statement was an overgeneralization.  The rest of the post does a good job at making that point.

###

I really like the ending.

2011-04-19 08:40:53thanks
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
64.129.227.4

Thanks grypo.  I'll tweak that sentence a bit.

2011-04-19 08:51:22
logicman

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I like this version. I wish I had your energy dana, you obviously put a lot of time in at SkS.  :-)

(Already gave a thumbsup.)

2011-04-19 09:04:30thanks
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
64.129.227.4

Thanks logicman.  With my left hand injured, I was sitting around this weekend wishing I could work on some SkS posts!  I'm still pretty slow at typing right now, but getting a bit better.

Feeling a little better about this post too.  I'm still not thrilled with it, but it's a lot better than before.

2011-04-19 09:14:54
Hoskibui

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I like it and despite being a newbie here, I'm going to give my thumbs up :)

2011-04-19 14:36:17last call
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.97.203

Thanks Hoskibui.  This one's on the schedule for tomorrow morning, so last call for comments.

2011-04-19 18:11:00Late comment
nealjking

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Sorry I haven't focused on this earlier, but I've been wondering why I thought this articile to be too complicated. The reason is that I think you're bringing in aerosol issues that do not address Muller's argument.

From his simple assertion, I would assume that he's skeptical about the climate sensitivity to GHG forcing, including second-order effects. I think the best response would be an explanation of why we think the IPCC's range of climate sensitivity is accurate.

Dragging in issues about aerosols seems to confuse the issue, except in so far as it affects the estimates for climate sensitivity.

2011-04-20 01:23:22vagueness
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
64.129.227.4

Really the problem is that Muller hasn't explained the reasoning behind his comments, neal.  He could be referring to just sensitivity, or just aerosols, or both.  I don't want to assume it's one or the other.  Frankly it's a fair point that they both provide significant uncertainty, but even with their combined uncertainty, Muller's "we have a lot more time" comment is inaccurate.