2011-07-05 22:25:13China's coal use caused cooling
Paul D

chillcast@googlemail...
82.18.130.183

This just popped up at the BBC site.

Particulates, smog etc caused cooling, masking the warming by greenhouse gases:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14002264

2011-07-06 00:13:00
perseus

owlsmoor@googlemail...
188.220.205.42

Unfortunately this headline and leader paragraph has brought out the Deniers in droves with the myth that there has been no warming in the last decade and aerosols are a convenient excuse.  

A better headline would have been to say that there would have been much greater warming without the increase in  cloud forming and reflective aerosols from coal burning.  It is also necessary to emphasis that warming has STILL been shown to statistically significant over many decadal periods in recent years, and positively correlated over most of the others, thereby underlying how forceful greenhouse gases really are.  Headlines and emphasis are essential whether it is a scientific journal or a news column. 

2011-07-06 00:55:12
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.92.123.225

I'm writing this one up. See to-and-fro here.

Don't know what the big deal is, we've speculated before about what effect the rapid industrialization of China may have had on sulphate emissions. Looks like it's significant, Check out the graph from Smith 2011:

 

2011-07-06 01:21:49
perseus

owlsmoor@googlemail...
188.220.205.42

Joe Romm makes a similar point on the original paper.  It gives far too much emphasis to the myth of a lull or hiatus, preferring SkS's explanation.

Study: Hottest Decade on Record Would Have Been Even Hotter But for Chinese Coal Plant Sulfur Pollution

Research reveals decade of global warming from China’s coal power stations has partly been offset by ‘cooling’ effect of sulphur pollution

That’s the UK Guardian headline for a half-clever new study, “Reconciling anthropogenic climate change with observed temperature 1998–2008.”

.....What’s not clever about this study is that it repeats the myth that there was a ‘hiatus’ in the first place. The top figure, from John Cook’s Skeptical Science website, makes that clear.

And that’s without even discussing the oceans, where climate science says the vast majority of the warming goes

2011-07-06 07:22:42
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.92.101.27

Well, however one wishes to classify it, the period in question didn't warm as much as the previous 20 years. And even allowing for faulty ARGO floats & deep ocean warming there's still a likely to be a discrepancy. Extra sulphates might fit the bill nicely.

2011-07-06 08:19:10
Albatross
Julian Brimelow
stomatalaperture@gmail...
199.126.232.206

Someone please help me out here-- I have not read the paper, so I should do that, but some a priori questions.  

Sulphates have a short residence time right?  So shouldn't any decreases in temperature (or slowing in warming) be primarily limited to the source region and those regions immmediately downwind-- especially for surface-sourced sulfates.  Why would we expect these sulfates to directly affect the global temperature? They may be able to indirectly affect the global temperature via reduced warming or cooling over the region they are affecting.

Are they uing coal that has a high sulphur content? I'm assuming so.

What about the black carbon that those coal plants are producing?  Black carbon is known to warm, so what is the balance in forcing from these two competing and opposing drivers?

2011-07-07 05:43:14
jg
John Garrett
garrjohn@gmail...
108.23.2.2

This seemed an obvious way to portray the misunderstanding about aerosols. I could polish this if anyone wants to use. Also curious if anyone's seen the same thing, since it seemed a bit obvious.

jg

(image deleted. See revised version below)

2011-07-07 06:03:09
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
64.129.227.4

jg - maybe add a 'Coal' brand name to the cig pack?  Perhaps with a warning label along the side about the adverse side effects of CO2?

2011-07-07 23:34:42 Fox News takes credit for study that debunks climate skeptics -- Grist
John Hartz
John Hartz
john.hartz@hotmail...
98.122.98.161

Fox News is patting itself on the back for "inspiring" a recent study showing that China's sulfur output has been masking the effects of global warming. It points to an interview that lead researcher Robert Kaufmann did with the BBC, where he said he looked into the issue because an old man told him Fox News said the planet was cooling. Hooray, Fox News got mentioned on a real news site! Break out the Confederate flag party hats! Too bad the rest of that article is about Kaufmann making that old man, and his Fox News overlords, look pretty silly indeed.

See, the study found that this brief drop in temperatures, long the darling of Fox News and other deniers, was actually the result of short-term coal pollution effects temporarily covering up long-term carbon emissions. Skeptics have been excitedly pointing out this period of slowed warming for a while, citing it as evidence that everyone's exaggerating. Turns out, nope: In fact, the extent of the carbon problem is just being masked by the sulfur problem. Here's how Kaufmann sums it up in that selfsame BBC article:

People can choose not to believe in [man-made] climate change -- but the correct term here is 'belief' - believing is an act of faith, whereas science is a testing of hypotheses and seeing whether they hold up against real world data.

Even before this paper there wasn't much scientific evidence for denying climate change, and now I don't see any credible scientific contradiction -- if people don't believe it, it'll be because they choose not to believe it.

But that is all the way at the bottom of the page! Fox News didn't read that far -- it got distracted by an item about the Casey Anthony trial and just made up the rest. Thus, it claims the study says global warming "stopped," and earlier (in an even more spectacular misinterpretation) said it showed that "greenhouse gas emissions reduce global warming." Can't wait to see those reporters' faces next time someone rebuts their favorite "but what about this period of cooling" hobby horse with "Fox-inspired" science.

2011-07-08 06:07:24Looking Cool with Coal, parady of Fox News report on China coal use and cooling
jg
John Garrett
garrjohn@gmail...
108.23.2.2

Dana, I took your suggestion, though I'm open to what to call the cigarrette brand:

Parady of Fox News reporting of China, coal and cooling

2011-07-08 06:26:17
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
64.129.227.4

Nice jg, only problem is I'm having a hard time reading the warning label.  Can the pack be rotated to make the side more legible?

2011-07-08 07:09:20
jg
John Garrett
garrjohn@gmail...
108.23.2.2

Sure. Anything can be redrawn, but involves some work. Let try tweaking the text first, and if that fails, I can redraw the box and hand.

Dana: I updated the drawing to get the Warning text legible.

2011-07-08 15:14:36
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
71.140.0.15

Nice jg, that looks bitchin'! :-)

2011-07-08 16:39:45
Rob Honeycutt

robhon@mac...
125.85.51.174

I'm in China right now.  My wife is Chinese and we try to get the the kids back over here for a family fix once every summer.  I've been coming to Chongqing now for 10 years, and visiting China for almost 20 years now.

I gotta tell you, there is something I'm taking note of for the first time this year.  The air is cleaner.  Used to be there was visibility of about 1 mile at best.  I'm accustomed to judging visibility from my training as a GA pilot.  I've always noted that EVERY day in Chongqing is IFR (instrument flight rules, as opposed to visual flight rules).  It may just be a function of the weather on this trip but for the first time in 10 years I'm seeing VFR conditions.

From news I've read over the years I know that the Chinese government has been aggressively addressing air pollution.  They've been closing (often forcibly) older, dirtier coal-fired plants for some time.  This is starting to, as far as I can see (pun intended), pay off.

But, from a climate standpoint, this could be a looming crisis if the whole world can't get control of CO2 emissions. 

It's interesting, as well, this is the second time in my life I've witnessed this taking place.  When I was a small boy growing up in east Tennessee (mid-1960") I remember almost exactly the same conditions I've seen in China in recent years.  The air was thick when I was small.  Even noticeable by a 5 year old boy.  If TN could clean up the air then I have no doubt that China will be very successful continuing to do the same here.

2011-07-09 18:49:09
Glenn Tamblyn

glenn@thefoodgallery.com...
144.131.21.104

Interesting observation Rob. I've spent a bit of time in China on business in the last decade, although not for several years, and one dominant image was simply that the air was always hazy to some degree. Shanghai, Shenyang, Nanchang, Beijing. Even flying across the entire country - always something in the air when you looked down.

This whole subject is probably worth a serious post or 2. Apart from a deep solar cycle, aerosols look like the most likely candidate for the last decade or so's slowdown in THC increase. Maybe looking at differences between daytime & nighttime warming.

I've only been to Chongqing once and for once Chinese food defeated me (normally I love it). Chilli Steamboat, cooking all sorts of raw ingredients in a simmering stockpot. But it was sooo chilli I couldn't eat anything from it. But the alternate, black-skinned duck stock saved the day.

China is very different from our western experience but it is fantastic place to visit, if a little challenging.

2011-07-09 19:16:54
Rob Honeycutt

robhon@mac...
125.86.211.18

The cuisine of Chongqing definitely takes time to acclimate to.  It seems that 9 out of 10 restaurants here are "FoWuq" (hot pot) establishments.  The other tough job here is "giving face" to all the other men by way of repeated "gan bei" (bottoms up) drinking sessions.  Seems everyone wants to "gan bei" with the westerner.  Luckily my wife or mother-in-law usually come to my rescue.

2011-07-09 19:31:56
Glenn Tamblyn

glenn@thefoodgallery.com...
144.131.21.104

Oh GOD. 'gan bei'. Oh my poor brain cells.

Something I have some times tried is another toast (I can't guarantee this is the correct pronunciation) - Pan Bey. I think it translates as 'Cheers'. Meaning you don't have to down the lot. This counts for A LOT when you are drinking Mao Tai.

Also, if there are several westerners on hand, try defensive toasts. One of you toats ALL your local hosts. Then another one of you does the same. They have to drink each time. But you guys are only drinking some of the time.

2011-07-09 19:57:42
Rob Honeycutt

robhon@mac...
125.86.211.18

I've become pretty practiced at this over the years.  One of my tricks is to only drink a portion of the glass and then praise the other guy's drinking abilities.  They quickly figure out that you're not going to go down the road of getting stupid drunk.  I find that often they're even somewhat relieved.  My wife or mother-in-law will rescue me when I run into a particularly enthusiastic gan bei-er.  My one rule is that I try my best to give face to my father-in-law in the presence of his friends.

The whole scene here is amazing and I feel quite privileged to be able to take part in the daily life of this Chinese family.

This is maybe a good post in the making here.  If I can pull together some information on the state of climate issues here and dovetail that into Chinese family and culture stories...

2011-07-10 03:28:56
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.99.60

I think some observations about improving China air quality would make for a good follow-up to Rob P's post on this paper.

2011-07-10 04:00:00
Albatross
Julian Brimelow
stomatalaperture@gmail...
199.126.232.206

Those data shown in Smith ewt al. (2011) only got o 2005, anything after that for SOx?

SOx emissions from ships should probably also be addressed.

Have you guys seen this?  just stumbled upon it while looking for emissions data after 2005.

 

2011-07-10 18:30:20
Glenn Tamblyn

glenn@thefoodgallery.com...
121.219.176.239

Yep, face can be tricky, and the whole concept of 'gwangji' - relationship. This can really confound our western sense of civic order. That you have very strong links and responsibilities to those with which you have gwangji, but not nearly as strong for those with whom you don't. I have had several chinese people comment to me that they are surprised at how poorly we in the west treat our friends. Yet a crowd of people will gather around a car crash just to watch without anyone doing anything because they don't have gwangji with the victim.

And the simple generosity of going with one of our chinese employees, who now lives in Australia, to visit his mother in a primitive apartment block in old Shanghai. Offered a wash at the wash basin and lunch of local shanghainese dumplings, braised cabbage and rice. Very homely and incredibly friendly. But it was also obvious that I was giving our employee Mr Hong great face by accepting her generosity.

As we tried to win contracts in China, one contact at a car company in Nanchang supported us and went out on a limb to back a small Australian company instead of the larger competitors. He and several others came to Australia for sign-off on the equipment. We looked after them while they were here and the relationship was good but, as far as we were concerned, business-like. After we had nearly finished installing the equipment in Nanchang. Mr Yin invited our entire installation crew to a weekend away. He paid for the best hotel in the in the small satellite town he came from to put us all up, we met his family, 'face' and 'gan bei' was flowing all around. And it was a matter of great importance to him that he returned to us the respect he owed us and that he was seen to do this within his local community.

China can be hard work for a traveller or business person, but if you are willing to let the country in, it has so much to offer. Usually the things that challenge us often do change us for the better. Too many western business people think they can fly in, stay at the InterContinental, meet with the local players, cement the deal and fly out. And the 'local players' will run rings around them.

China is an ancient and complex culture and the people have a strong awareness of the history of their nation. 1000's and 1000's of years of history - terrible and amazing. A cross fertilisation between Western thinking and Chinese (and Indian) could produce AMAZING results. Perhaps the Chinese need to let go of their attachment to the idea of China's ancient heritage being so important a bit., But we in the West sure need to drop the hubris that we have it all figured out as well.

Some time in China is good for anyones soul.