Cap-and-trade legislation

Both the United States and Australia have pending carbon cap-and-trade legislation. While not a political blog, this mechanism is intrinsically numeric in its relationship to regulating carbon, so within scope.

Personally, I don’t know if the legislation will do any good, directly or indirectly. From a perusal of the 300-page amendment introduced into the US bill in the last moment, and if past indications are a guide, it is a bureaucrats dream (aka complex policy challenge). For example, figures are set for the amount of energy to be generated by renewable energy sources, up to 20% by 2020. The new paragraph states these figures can be changed at any time. Such language gives those ‘faceless bureaucrats’ the power to make and change the rules according to their whims, in order to achieve it ‘intent’ of the legislation. If the legislation is all like that, its major achievement will be to create another source of friction in the wheels of the economy as all sorts of compliance (aka bits of paper) are created.

For a very interesting perspective, see this Rolling Stone article (also here).

Maybe – but cap-and-trade, as envisioned by Goldman, is really just a carbon tax structured so that private interests collect the revenues.

This comes via the Global Guerrillas blog by John Robb

Matt Taibbi has done it again with, “The Great American Bubble Machine.” (Rolling Stone). It’s a must read. He’s constructing a narrative for revolt.

A couple of global guerrilla themes here: incessant and morally bereft financial predation at the global level (financial tribalism?) and the emergence of hollow nation-states that serve merely as vehicles for the enrichment of these predators.

NOTE: It’s also an interesting reprise of the current carbon trading scheme — essentially, instead of responding to environmental stress with real solutions (a push to create local resiliency) we get another big rip-off that will line the pockets of global banksters.

The ‘Hollow State’ theme of his blog is a cogent explanation for why the people feel powerless to stop the global warming boondoggle, a sentiment expressed by Mark Lawson.

Recent Climate Observations: Disagreement With Projections

Appearing in Energy and Environment (ee-20-4_7-stockwell2) is a note by myself on a paper by IPCC lead authors Rahmstorf, S., Cazenave A., Church J.A., Hansen J.E., Keeling R.F., Parker D.E., and R.C.J. Somerville, Recent climate observations compared to projections published in Science in 2007.

As shown by 102 citations in Google Scholar already, Rahmstorf et al 2007 has been one of the main references for alarmist calls to action because the “climate system is responding more quickly than the climate models indicate”. Taking the first one off Google:

The strong trends in climate change already evident, the likelihood of further changes occurring, and the increasing scale of potential climate impacts give urgency to addressing agricultural adaptation more coherently. There are …

Adapting agriculture to climate change –, SM Howden, JF Soussana, FN Tubiello, N Chhetri, M … Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2007 – National Acad Sciences.

Respected on-line authors like Peter Gallagher, Mark Lawson and Lucia were concerned with the paper. Lucia attacked the ‘slide and eyeball’ approach. I engaged with Rahmstorf at RealClimate and wrote a number of articles on the uncertainty, until he told me in effect to ‘sod off and publish’. But rather than try to diagnose a sloppy methodology and be ignored, time and evidence has done the job instead. Here is my abstract.

Abstract: The non-linear trend in Rahmstorf et al. [2007] is updated with recent global temperature data. The evidence does not support the basis for their claim that the sensitivity of the climate system has been underestimated.

Its gratifying to read that the authors of the Copenhagen Synthesis Report do not seem to agree with Rahmstorf et al 2007 either, in reference to analysis in a figure that ostensibly used the same method as Rahmstorf et al 2007.

Figure 3 … shows the long-term trend of increasing temperature is clear and the trajectory of atmospheric temperature at the Earth’s surface is proceeding within the range of IPCC projections.


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Proof of AGW

Given the way the components of the surface temperature record extracted from the SSA (singular spectrum analysis) line up with various potential causes of climate change in the previous post here, the temptation is to latch onto series 2, and say, aha, there is the forcing due to increase in CO2. It’s the right shape, exponential. Its the right size, about 0.6C.

But looking into fractal data is like seeing pictures in clouds. Be suspicious of magic methods that pull explanations out of the air. Below I have plotted SSA decompositions of the the monthly global temperature anomaly from the HadCRU dataset from 1976 to the present, the period of most recent rise, and attributed largely to GHGs. Kind of zooming in.


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SSA decomposition of HadCRU

Applying the singular spectrum analysis (SSA) R package to the global temperature record is potentially insightful. SSA is a type of principal components analysis for time series data, recovering orthogonal components, EOF’s, of different period. Just the ticket for decomposing climate data into potential sources. Although, it must be remembered that temperature series have high enough autocorrelation to produce spurious results in any such method — its not ‘reliable’ in a strict sense.


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R code for SSA example

The code for plotting the non-linear temperature trend, using SSA (singular spectrum analysis) in the figure below is here – ssa-demo. I have made it as turnkey as I can. The steps are:

1. Get and Install package ssa ( I had to hand-compile and move the C shared library around so it would find it, not sure why.

2. Run the script below with source(“filename”). Uncomment line indicated after the first time to speed it up. You should get the following replication of the Rahmstorf figure with 11 and 14 embedding period.


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Another Copenhagen Synthesis Report Error?

Figure 3 of the Synthesis Report of the Copenhagen Congress presents the long-term trend of increasing temperature and the range of IPCC projections.

The sharp-eyed JeanS over at Lucia’s smelt a fish, noticed the trend appeared to be too high, and did a number of replications indicating the window used was 14 years, and not 11 years as claimed in the caption, and also in the list of Figures.

Figure 3: Changes in global average surface air temperature (smoothed over 11 years) relative to 1990. The blue line represents data from Hadley Center (UK Meteorological Office); the red line is GISS (NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, USA) data. The broken lines are projections from the IPCC Third Assessment
Report, with the shading indicating the uncertainties around the projections3 (data from 2007 and 2008 added by Rahmstorf, S.).

Figure 3: Changes in global average surface air temperature (smoothed over 11 years) relative to 1990, p. 9

Below is my replication of the figure (using an SSA package in R) with 11 and 14 year periods and the ‘minimum roughness criterion’. The trend lines are displaced by the software, but it makes it easier to see.


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Penny Wong: I'll have to get back to you.

ABC interview Just in – You would think the Government would have been more prepared, given Senator Steve Fielding’s simple question: “Where is the direct evidence of CO2 driving up global temperatures?”.

Senator Fielding was accompanied by the Australian “Gang of Four”: David Evans, Stewart Franks, Robert Carter, and William Kininmonth.

Where does the research on greater reliability of ocean temperatures from Steffen come from? Or did he just wing that?

Senator Fielding has questioned whether carbon dioxide is the bogeyman of the climate world and whether global warming is human induced.

With his Senate vote crucial to the Government’s proposed emissions trading legislation, Senator Fielding spent more than two hours yesterday with Australia’s chief scientist Professor Penny Sackett and the Climate Change Minister Penny Wong.

So has Senator Fielding made up his mind?

He is speaking here with Alexandra Kirk in Canberra.
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The atmospheric global electric circuit: An overview

Here is another very useful review paper from arXiv by Indian scientists: Siingh, Gopalakrishnana, Singh, Kamraa, Singh, Panta, Singh, and Singh.


Research work in the area of the Global Electric Circuit (GEC) has rapidly expanded in recent years mainly through observations of lightning from satellites and ground-based networks and observations of optical emissions between cloud and ionosphere. After reviewing this progress, we critically examine the role of various generators of the currents flowing in the lower and upper atmosphere and supplying currents to the GEC. The role of aerosols and cosmic rays in controlling the GEC and linkage between climate, solar-terrestrial relationships and the GEC has been briefly discussed. Some unsolved problems in this area are reported for future investigations.

While it is often stated that cosmic rays may affect the climate / weather via cloud processes such as condensation of nuclei, the modification of the GEC through ionization effects on thunderstorm formation is also a possible factor.

They state that increased radiation enhanced the ionization in the atmosphere, which affected the charging mechanism of clouds leading to enhanced thunderstorm activity as was observed after Chernobyl accidents.

In particular, they claim latent heating/ rainfall and electrification/ lightning differ because the former is prevalent with shallow, gentle lifting of air, whereas the latter is caused by deeper and stronger lifting.

Solar forcing of the terrestrial atmosphere

This paper to appear is a very nice review of solar-earth interactions, including atmospheric electricity, by T. Dudok de Wit, J. Watermann.

The Sun provides the main energy input to the terrestrial atmosphere, and yet the impact of solar variability on long-term changes remains a controversial issue. Direct radiative forcing is the most studied mechanism. Other much weaker mechanisms, however, can have a significant leverage, but the underlying physics is often poorly known.

We review the main mechanisms by which solar variability may impact the terrestrial atmosphere, on time scales ranging from days to millennia. This includes radiative forcing, but also the effect of interplanetary perturbations and energetic particle fluxes, all of which are eventually driven by the solar magnetic field.

Three main conclusions for further research are proposed:

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