2011-02-18 02:24:02Why we need the IPCC. . . An Essay
citizenschallenge
Peter Miesler
citizenschallenge7@gmail...
166.164.160.239

If anyone sees any value in the essay or part thereof please feel welcome to grab any of it.  2/24/11

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"Why we need the IPCC"



On February 19th the US House Republicans voted 244-179 to kill funding for the International Panel on Climate Change because they claim we can’t trust them and we don’t need their information anyways. (The bill has yet to pass the Senate.)

To appreciate why such thinking is shortsighted we need to understand what the IPCC actually is. First, we should recognize that weather knows no borders and that international cooperation among meteorologists started way back in 1873 with the founding of the International Meteorological Organization. In 1950 it evolved into the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

In the early 1960s our first weather satellites blasted into orbit, followed every few years by improved generations of satellites. Climatologists were beginning to learn about our atmosphere and weather dynamics like never before. What used to be a discipline taught out of a few text books exploded in complexity and volume.

In response universities and governmental plus nongovernmental organizations throughout the world started establishing dozen, eventually hundreds, of Earth and Climate study programs.

At the same time, the physics of CO2 made it clear that observed increasing levels of atmospheric CO2 would lead to increasing global temperatures. This conclusion was, and is, unavoidable given that greenhouse gases inhibit loss of warmth - like a blanket. By increasing atmospheric CO2 we’re basically making our planet’s blanket thicker. It’s well-understood physics.

Where things get complex is in mapping the full scope of the cascading effects following from the atmosphere’s increasing temperature and humidity. This is where theories and models come into play, but theories and models need to be tested and refined. Something the increasing flood of incoming data was making possible.

Reports and datasets piling up right and left. This stuff needed to get organized. How else could this knowledge become publicly available and useful? Even the G7, leaders of the free world, recognized the need when they initiated a process culminating in 1988 with the WMO and the United Nations Environment Program establishing the IPCC.

The new groups charge was to: “assess the scientific, technical and socioeconomic information that relates to human induced climate change.” It seemed like a thoughtful thing for world leaders to do.

Did you know the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) doesn’t do research? Their duty is “to organize the assessment and summarizing of research” done throughout the world. Incidentally, the process is open to the review and critique of anyone competent to keep up with the formidable science.

In itself, the IPCC is only a few offices and ten employees. Beyond that, periodically hundreds of scientists donate their time when helping develop and publish reports. The IPCC sets up meetings and symposiums where scientists get together to exchange information. These meetings review the full spectrum of current published reports including claims from qualified skeptics; the IPCC can’t help it when facts and due science consistently reveal gross deficits in the veracity of denialist's claims. After formal vetting the IPCC publishes their compilations of the available climatology.

IPCC reports are acknowledged by the world’s practicing climatologists to be the authoritative assessment of the current state of understanding. Now this doesn’t mean they are perfect, but it does mean they know more about the science than anyone else. That alone demands their expert assessments receive more respect than politically driven misrepresentations.

I question why Republicans have to resort to imaginary global conspiracy theories? Why put so much effort into demonized thousands of hard working scientists who compile their studies in good faith? Uncomfortable truths are no justification for ignoring the evidence!

Watching the way “skeptical” groups like Marshall Institute, SPPI, Heartland and their media echo-chamber attack the IPCC makes me think of those long ago Texas Fence Cutting Wars. These skirmishes were initiated by old time Cattle Baron’s who refused to recognize that the open prairie was disappearing and that fences and cooperation were the unavoidable waves of the future.

The IPCC offers an open platform for the nations of our shrinking planet to work together in coming to grips with what the science is discovering. Republicans should replace their politically driven campaign of willful ignorance and denial with a good-faith effort to learn about climate realities. For this we need an international coordinating agency, exactly like the IPCC.


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http://citizenschallenge.blogspot.com

 Thank you, nealjking, Ari Jokimäki for the helpful suggestions.

March 2011, Four Corners Free Press.

2011-02-20 21:04:20
Ari Jokimäki

arijmaki@yahoo...
91.154.108.124

I think it might be good to explicitly tie the IPCC to the organization that was established by WMO and UNEP. Now you only implicitly link IPCC to that. You first explain how a new organization was established without identifying the new organization, but then you start discussing IPCC, which implies it was the newly established organization. It would be easier for the reader if you would just say that the newly established organization was IPCC.

There's a typo here: "Did you now the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) doesn’t do research?"

now -> know

2011-02-21 08:24:30
citizenschallenge
Peter Miesler
citizenschallenge7@gmail...
166.164.143.118

Ari:  "I think it might be good to explicitly tie the IPCC to the organization that was established by WMO and UNEP."

Excellent call!  That kept going right by me.  Big improvement.

Thank you

Peter

2011-02-21 10:04:14
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
91.33.103.231

"... start to learn about the reality of the heat-engine that is our climate!"

=> "... start to learn about the dynamical system that is our climate!"

 

Climate is NOT a heat engine.

2011-02-21 13:25:12Climate is NOT a heat engine. ?
citizenschallenge
Peter Miesler
citizenschallenge7@gmail...
96.14.48.159

Nealjking, could I ask you to explain why that metaphor breaks down?

I'm sharing the following from a long ago essay not to piss you off, but because I'm not seeing why the metaphor doesn't work.

~ ~ ~ 

". . . This is cause for concern because our atmosphere is in actuality a heat engine. Its 
matrix of gaseous and particulate components are the valves and pistons. This engine is 
powered by the sun’s energetic rays and the result is our weather: the global 
distribution of energy, heat, and moisture. . ."




". . . Think about our atmosphere as the heat engine whose role it is to seek a globally 
balanced distribution of energy, heat and moisture. This engine has evolved to a delicate 
state of dynamic equilibrium. Remember, it is the profile of temperature gradients and 
barometric differentials that provide the throttle behind this engine's drive to maintain 
its equilibrium. Inject extremes and it will react in kind ~ it makes no difference to the 
engine. . ."

~ ~ ~ 

I almost cringe sharing the source, if you went and read it all, you'd probably want to come after me with the principle's paddle, but here it is.  I'll take my licks if I can learn something in the process. 

Cheers, Peter

citizenschallenge@gmail.com

http://citizenschallenge.blogspot.com

An Essay Concerning Our Weather (printed in The Humanist Nov/Dec 1995 and this revised version in Nov/Dec 2005)

2011-02-21 18:12:59The meaning of "Heat Engine"
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.62.32

Peter,

The term "heat engine" is used in physics to describe a mechanism that accepts heat from a higher temperature, dumps heat at a lower temperature, and uses the difference to produce work. If it is a reversible heat engine, it can also be run in reverse, to use work input to accept heat at a lower temperature and dump it at higher temperature: as a refrigerator.

The term is commonly used in discussions on thermodynamics and on the inherent quantitative limitations of efficiency in the utilization of thermal energy.

In the case of the climate:

- What would be the "work" output of the climate? and how do you measure it? I do not think there is any "work output" of the climate, in terms of Joules and Watts.

- Even if there were a way to regard the climate as a heat engine, what difference would it make? A heat engine CANNOT "seek a globally balanced distribution of energy, heat and moisture": it's not what heat engines do, and "seeking" is not what any physical mechanism does: your use of the term constitutes a form of anthropomorphism that sets us up as "atmosphere huggers".

I think that you are using this term "heat engine" as though it justified some specific attitude of reverence. It cannot do that: It's a technical term, describing a specific technical concept.  The point about the climate is that WE LIVE IN IT, not that we are expecting energy packets from it. That point can and needs to be made directly, not through reliance on a dubious metaphor.

2011-02-22 06:11:59
citizenschallenge
Peter Miesler
citizenschallenge7@gmail...
166.164.143.62

nealjking,

Thank you for taking the time to give me that information and I am definitely taking it seriously.  My smug usage of the term has become a point of serious inner grappling.  However, I'm not convinced I can, or should, scrap the term yet.

"work output" it is hard for me not to see wind, clouds, weather fronts and storms as "work output."

"seeking"   OK I see your point here.  I thought I remembered "seeking" being used in describing various aspects of Entropy, but couldn't find any examples, so that is a wash.  On the other hand I have heard of water seeking lower elevations in some geology texts.

 ~ ~ ~

As someone who has literally and proudly hugged a few trees in his days, what's wrong with hugging...  ok, ok just trying to make a little joke there.  I see your point about the dangers of anthropomorphizing, {I've written and deleted a bunch of sentences here - it is an interesting philosophical topic - but I'm not sure this is the place to get into, or that you'd be at all interested.  For now I'm better off sticking the 'heat engine" thing. }

Neal, I take your objections to my usage seriously, and mean no disrespect if it hasn't been enough for me to delete that term from my text.  I will definitely be chewing on it and would welcome any further comments you, or anyone else, would care to share.

As a final note I'm imagining "heat engine" as more a conceptualizing metaphor, than some anthropogenic allusion.

 

2011-02-22 07:08:11the stage
citizenschallenge
Peter Miesler
citizenschallenge7@gmail...
166.164.143.62

 

Something occurs to me, that's off topic but I still want to bring it up.

 

 

Look at that new crop of Republican US Representatives and Senators.
What makes most of them tick is a very faith-based very confined intellectual window.  Mainly economic/political with some fantasy of returning our nation to earlier better days.  Most rest on religious dogma.  It’s horrifying how many US Representative either believe in, or go along with Creationism outlook.

Worse considerations of our planet’s biosphere is like some virtual image on the other side of a screen.  They have no connection because they are lost within Religious doctrine supercharged with the mass media BoobTube. blahblah

Your science is as real as a cartoons to them.  But now instead of those folks being confined to living rooms and barrooms, they are in positions of real power.
It’s a whole new ball game.

2011-02-22 08:12:39
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.62.32

Citizenschallenge,

The problem is that you're using terms metaphorically in a context in which people use them literally. "Work" is not, in this context, used to indicate the fruits of anyone's labors: It is variously and equivalently expressed as:

force x distance = pressure x change in volume = torque x angle  = ...

and it is measured in units of Joules = Newton x meter.

Clouds are not work; neither are paintings, although Picasso labored hard at them enough. 

Using terms like this in this context is like saying that "stock options are the torque twisting the finances of the world" because they twist CEO incentives around; or "advertising is the gyroscope of public relations" because it insulates you from being affected by bad news. These are all vaguely techy things you can say that actually don't add any insight and don't mean anything. This is not the way to teach science.

2011-02-22 08:29:14why isn't weather work?
citizenschallenge
Peter Miesler
citizenschallenge7@gmail...
166.164.170.15

 Where my understanding breaks down is when I'm told terms like:

"force x distance = pressure x change in volume = torque x angle  = ...

and it is measured in units of Joules = Newton x meter.

Clouds are not work;"

are not applicable to clouds.  They are massive realities, not paintings.

When a hurricane slams into a city , or drops kilotons of water on to the countryside ... man if that ain't torque and volume and mass and momentum and all that stuff... what is?

Or planes flying through rough weather, ... or even getting up into air, calculations establishing weight tolerances for various atmospheric considerations.

 

I'm confused why that stuff should not be defined as 'work' ?

2011-02-22 10:04:41
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.62.32

When you lift a 2 kilogram mass through 10 meters against gravity, you have done

2 (kg) x 10 (m) x 9.8 (Newton/kg) = 196 (Joules)

of work.

How many Joules is a plane?

I don't know your intellectual background, so I don't know where to begin regarding how inappropriate this use of language is. Reaching into the dark, I would say that it makes about as much sense to use such words, which bear specific and technical meaning in this context, to discuss climate science about as much as it would to offer to make up $15,000 in back taxes to the IRS by writing them a poem in praise of decimal points. Huh?

Yeah.

 

2011-02-22 14:38:02
citizenschallenge
Peter Miesler
citizenschallenge7@gmail...
166.166.201.50

"How many Joules is a plane?"

How many Joules does it take to keep a plane in the air?

Sorry, don't mean to get on your nerves and I do appreciate the time you've given me - and I certainly will continue chewing on it.

 

ps. so what you think of the essay is it a waste of time?

2011-02-22 18:57:06
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.60.248

I think the essay displays a use of language that conveys a more emotional than scientific perspective. I think it sends the wrong message. I think it will give cheer to the enemy.

I'm sorry, but it seems to me like it's shooting ourselves in the foot.

2011-02-23 03:17:49
citizenschallenge
Peter Miesler
citizenschallenge7@gmail...
166.166.220.154

ouch, that bad?

and I thought I was mainly wrestling with deleting one sentence with an objectionable term.

But, you're telling me it belongs in the trash.

 

anyone else out there? how about weighing in?

2011-02-23 03:34:00
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.60.248

The entirety of the article is not bad. But the particular way in which you are using technical terms in a metaphorical way, in my opinion, really sets us up as "gas huggers"; and I do mean that in a bad way. It makes us look like we're choosing sides for some molecules against other molecules; as though the issue of AGW was mostly an emotional issue. It really puts us in a bad light.

Leave the technical terms out, and it will be OK. Say what you mean to say directly. If you're going to use metaphors, the metaphors should be built around concepts and examples that the audience - and you - both understand. Don't get inventive. To be very blunt, you don't have enough intuition about these technical concepts to do that. What you are trying to do is analogous to punning in a foreign language - while conducting a high-stakes diplomatic mission. This is not the time.

2011-02-23 15:39:57all seems a bit defensive - sorry
Stephen Leahy

writersteve@gmail...
208.74.213.18

I know a lot of work has gone into this but it comes across as defensive and reactionary. How to respond to the House decision? I'd rather see details about who is funding those xxx that pushed the bill through. Blaine what's his name - a multimillionaire banker.. defending the sanctity of science for the common man of America.... 

You did ask

2011-02-24 08:16:41
citizenschallenge
Peter Miesler
citizenschallenge7@gmail...
166.164.149.164

I did ask and I welcome your thoughts, advice.  I may believe in myself, but I also believe I got lots of limitations, to say nothing of being quite isolated.  A tad too much chasing my own tail.  I don't bug you folks to be stroked - I want to become aware of my blind spots - no one says that process is pretty, or feels good.

I do appreciate that a couple of you have taken the time to share your thoughts.  I've stayed away from that essay since Neal's post and will probably not touch it till tomorrow, letting it rest a little, it'll be interesting to see what I read when I go back to it.

PS. Neal gotta give you credit, you've figured out how to make them words work for you - that second to last sentence... first class.

2011-02-25 06:36:0426 words lighter and feeling better.
citizenschallenge
Peter Miesler
citizenschallenge7@gmail...
166.164.128.80

 

Stephen, on rereading the essay besides that open lob with the "stinking information" I'm only seeing the last two paragraphs as being partisan.  If there is other stuff within the tone of my description please point it out.  I have removed the sentence with the global heat-engine inference ~ though not my infatuation with the metaphor.  Removed the "stinking" ~ it's funny in my submission to FCFP I added a note asking if the stinking was over the top - she replied saying she liked it and thought it worked and kept it.

~ ~ ~ 

Neal wrote: "To be very blunt, you don't have enough intuition about these technical concepts to do that. What you are trying to do is analogous to punning in a foreign language - while conducting a high-stakes diplomatic mission. This is not the time."

This makes me think that you went and actually looked at An Essay Concerning Our Weather.  If that is the case, I want you to know when I read that essay these days I do a bit of cringing myself, since I have learned a fair amount since then.  However, I'll admit the broadstroke of it, I still feel good about, considering when it was written 1995.  The 2005 revision doing very little to the guts of how I tried explaining our atmosphere, also the closing prediction was accurate.

I want to rewrite that essay one of these days ~ if you only knew how much I'd love for some real climatologist to go through that essay, rip it up and hand it back to me.  I could do something good with that.

 

 

2011-02-25 08:48:31
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
91.33.108.242

OK, it's improved by omissions. A few small points:

- "Even the fabled G7": Why "fabled"?

 

 

- "... makes me think of those long ago Fence Wars where old time Cattle Baron’s refused to recognize that their world was getting smaller and that fences and cooperation were the unavoidable waves of the future."

This is pretty remote from most people's consciousness. I'm from California, and it doesn't convey much to me. Can you find a comparison to something a bit more familiar?

 

 

 - "For this we need an international coordinating agency, just like the IPCC."

=> Either: "..., like the IPCC."

 or: "..., exactly like the IPCC."

2011-02-26 18:57:17
citizenschallenge
Peter Miesler
citizenschallenge7@gmail...
96.14.27.247

"fabled" good question, I've asked myself that, sometimes I try to be cute.  I'm glad you pointed that out, it's ok for the FCFP, but your right it don't belong.

- "... makes me think of those long ago Fence Wars where old time Cattle Baron’s refused to recognize that their world was getting smaller and that fences and cooperation were the unavoidable waves of the future."

I understand what you're saying, but I need to figure out how to tell that story better - because it really seems like a quintessential metaphor, backed up by a real historical story.  There are lots of other examples I suppose... but I can't think of any  {but then I'm a Colorado kid}

just, just damn that just - I keep promising myself to delete it every dang time I type it, but they pop up like sock puppets. Thanks for pointing it out.

 

Thanks Neal,   I wouldn't have given my Fence Wars sentence another thought - but now I'm chewing on it.  It's a keeper I just need to tell it better.

2011-02-26 22:02:45
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
91.33.106.193
Yeah, passionate concern is fine; but eschew cuteness.
2011-03-05 05:43:48
citizenschallenge
Peter Miesler
citizenschallenge7@gmail...
166.164.185.227

Yes sir.  That's why I need folks like you giving me a polite backhand when I have it coming.  I shall be more cautious in the future.

For what it's worth this one's gone through its last edit, reflecting a couple changes the editor made before publishing it. I hope I also cleared up that Fence War business.

2011-03-05 06:14:12
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey
yooper49855@hotmail...
97.83.150.102

In your paragraph:

"In itself, the IPCC is only a few offices and ten employees. Beyond that, periodically hundreds of scientists donate their time when helping develop and publish reports. The IPCC sets up meetings and symposiums where scientists get together to exchange information. These meetings review the full spectrum of current published reports including claims from qualified skeptics; the IPCC can’t help it when facts and due science consistently reveal gross deficits in the voracity of skeptical claims. After formal vetting the IPCC publishes their compilations of the available climatology."

"voracity" should read "veracity"

Skepics are voracious in their devouring of conspiraciy theories and their use of alternative meanings of truth

2011-03-05 07:25:52
citizenschallenge
Peter Miesler
citizenschallenge7@gmail...
166.164.185.227

thanks for catching that.