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Andrew Dessler's Posts

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The ideological tensions inside the IPCC gives its reports alarming credibility

Over on DotEarth, Andy Revkin has an interesting post about the "burning embers" diagram from the latest IPCC. The upshot of the story is that several countries well-known for their desire to do nothing about climate change were able to remove an alarming figure from the 2007 report: The diagram, known as "burning embers," is an updated version of one that was a central feature of the panel's preceding climate report in 2001. The main opposition to including the diagram in 2007, they say, came from officials representing the United States, China, Russia and Saudi Arabia. People who argue that …

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The problem with climate-model criticism

I have a paper [PDF] in this week's Science discussing the water vapor feedback. It is a Perspective, meaning that it is a summary of the existing literature rather than new scientific results. In it, my co-author Steve Sherwood and I discuss the mountain of evidence in support of a strong and positive water vapor feedback. Interestingly, it seems that just about everybody now agrees water vapor provides a robustly strong and positive feedback. Roy Spencer even sent me email saying that he agrees. What I want to focus on here is model verification. If you read the blogs, you'll …

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Attack of the zombies: global cooling!

John Fleck comments on George Will's latest zombie attack: in the 1970s, scientists said the Earth was cooling! What's amazing is not that George Will is selectively quoting to mislead the reader, but that he continues to do so after John sent him a copy of the article in question: When George Will last wrote about this subject, last May, I sent him a copy of the Science News article he misleadingly quoted in the example I used above. I got a nice note back from him thanking me for sharing it. I'll leave it to the reader to decide …

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Online climate chat: Tuesday, Feb. 10, at 12:45 pm CST

This Tuesday (Feb. 10, 2009) I'll be doing an online chat over on Eric Berger's SciGuy website. We'll be talking about climate, climate change, and everything else climate related. It will be at 12:45 pm CST. If you can't make it, the transcript will be posted (I'll put a link to it in the comments).

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There is no negative feedback in the climate system

The small number of credible skeptics out there (e.g., Spencer, Lindzen) have spent much of the last decade searching for a negative feedback in our climate system. If a sufficiently big one is found, then it would suggest that warming over the next century may well be small. Most climate scientists, however, are reasonably certain that a negative feedback big enough to overwhelm the well-known positive feedbacks in the climate system, such as the water vapor feedback [PDF], does not exist. Why? Negative feedbacks tend to dampen out climate change. If you add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere or the …

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Marc Morano agrees that only experts in climate feedbacks can make judgments on climate

Tuesday, I received an email from Marc Marano, staffer for Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.). Usually, these are vectored straight into my junk folder, but apparently my computer's spam filter has a sense of humor, because this email made it into my inbox. And what I saw astounded me. Marc's email contained a link to a recent post by Roy Spencer. In it, Spencer claims: Obviously, the thermostat (feedback) issue is the most critical one that determines whether manmade global warming will be catastrophic or benign. In this context, it is critical for the public and politicians to understand that the …

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Skeptic screed on progressive news site recycles familiar myths

This post was co-written with David Roberts. Recently Harold Ambler, climate crank and proprietor of TalkingAboutTheWeather.com, published an essay on Huffington Post replete with gross factual errors about the science of climate change. Word is that this was an editorial slip-up on HuffPo's part; they don't typically provide a place for this kind of agitprop. The essay is gone from the site's portal pages and rumor has it The Huff herself may address the issue soon. Regardless, the essay is out there getting skeptics all twitterpated (again). These folks can't find a scientific journal with two hands and a flashlight, …

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Why large future warming is very likely

A friend of mine from college emailed me the other day and expressed some skepticism about the connection between carbon dioxide emissions and global warming. It occurred to me that it would make a good topic for my next post. So here is the reasoning that has led me to conclude that business-as-usual carbon dioxide emissions will lead to temperature increases over the next century of around 3 degrees C. First, it has been known for over 150 years that adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere will increase the temperature of the planet. In fact, the very small number of …

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Memo to the president-elect about NASA

Memo To: PEBO From: Andrew Dessler Re: What to do about NASA on your first day in office Two things: Fire Michael Griffin, NASA's current administrator. He says stupid things about climate change and is going to be an impediment to the change that NASA needs. Put the Earth back in NASA's mandate. In 2006, the Bush Administration quietly deleted the phrase "to understand and protect our home planet" from the NASA mission statement. This move perfectly encapsulated Bush's attitude toward the environment, and with a stroke of your pen you can show how things have changed.

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Climate uncertainty is a reason to take action and Fred Singer makes big bucks

Links: DotEarth links to an interview with economist Gary Yohe about, among other things, uncertainty. Here's the money quote: e360: You've written recently about uncertainty over the future impacts of climate change and how that plays a role in discouraging action in reducing greenhouse gases. How do you spur world action on this issue when there are still questions out there about future levels of CO2 in the atmosphere and the range of future temperature increases? Yohe: Uncertainly is ubiquitous. There are some fundamental conclusions that we now know: that the planet is warming; that humans are the cause of …

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