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Some Questions for Climate Scientists

Updated on November 29, 2018
jackclee lm profile image

Jack is currently a volunteer at the Westchester County Archives. Before retiring, he worked at IBM for over 28 years.

Introduction

Global warming and climate change has been around for almost 30 years. There is a whole slew of experts and scientists of all disciplines doing research and publishing papers and warning of the dire consequences if we don’t address this issue.

I have a few basic and simple questions for them.

If they can answer them to my satisfaction, I will be convinced.

As an engineer by training, I have a logical and unbiased mind. I will let the facts and evidence guide me.

- Nov. 2018

Question One

Do you think Earthquakes and Volcanos and Tsunami are complex problems?

and do you think they are more or less complex than Climate Science?

If so, to what degree they are more or less complex?

Question Two

Assuming they are less complex because for no other reason than size, since earthquake is only restricted to a local region near a fault line, and volcano is only restricted to one mountain and tsunami is caused by one sudden event like an earthquake or land movement, and climate change deals with our whole planet.

How do you explain the fact that all these natural events cannot be predicted accurately as of 2018?

That is to say, none of the experts in these fields have come up with a model or technique to predict the next “big one.”

Moreover, a complex system like climate change, there exists plenty of computer models, 31 by last count, that claim to predict our future climate going out 30 years.

These models also claim to have a confidence factor of 90% in their projections.

I hope you see the discrepancy.

Question Three

Assuming these projections are accurate, no one has been able to tell us how long it will take for these effects to materialize? For example the rising of the oceans.

The scientists who have done these studies and gone back a few hundred thousands years in our past by looking at ice cores...even they cannot say for sure how long it will take for the arctic ice to melt on Greenland or Antartica...

How come? Isn’t this a simple calculation?

We know the amount of ice that exists. we know how much heat energy is required to melt one pound of snow or ice...and we should have evidence from previous ice ages for the duration of time needed to go from warming to cooling to affect the ocean rise...

Is it decades, hundreds of years or thousands of years?

They claim they know how much warming to expect in the next 30 years based on our current CO2 emissions.

The bottom line is how much time do we have?

Question Four

Is Carbon dioxide a pollutant? The EPA has ruled that CO2 emissions poses a risk and they need to be regulated. However, even they do not rank CO2 as a poluttant gas like Sulfur dioxide and other harmful gases.

If that is the case, why do climate scientists and environmentalists band together to pitch the same song? Aren’t they two separate problems and you can fight one without the other or vice versa?

Final Question

Taking climate change as a whole, what percent of the current warming is due to natural activity and what percent is due to human activity?

It seems these are basic questions we need to ask and get answers to before taking the next step of mitigation or adaptation...

The solutions should be based on our knowledge of the current environment and on a cost benefit analysis of each of the possible proposed solutions.

Does this seem like a rational and sound approach to dealing with climate changes?

Why Now?

The America public deserves some accountability. For the past 20 or 30 years, they have been told by climate scientists to “trust them”. They are experts and they know what they are doing. After all, 97% of scientists agree with them. How can you argue with science?

Now is the time for these very scientists to put their money where their mouth is.

We need some simple answers.

It starts by answering these basic questions and putting their face and name behind them.

Naming Names...

  • Al Gore
  • Michael Mann
  • James Hansen
  • Andrew Light

© 2018 Jack Lee

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    • Doc Snow profile image

      Doc Snow 

      10 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      "Ok, if that is true, wouldn’t some warming be beneficial overall?"

      There are some beneficial effects in some places, yes. The various IPCC reports can be consulted for more on that. However, the key word in your question is "some." That's why it's important to hold warming to just 'some'--the conventional 'bumper' of 2 C, or better yet the more conservative (and increasingly better-supported) guardrail of 1.5 C. The more warming, the less benefit and the more cost/danger.

      The basic reason for that is that our terrestrial biology/ecology is adapted to current (ie., Ice Age) conditions.

      "...scientists have studied the variations over the past few decades and they cannot confirm it is merely man caused because the changes are within the standard deviation of natural causes."

      That was the conclusion of one study, if memory serves--others have reached different conclusions (cf., AR 4, 2007):

      "Most of the observed increase in global average

      temperatures since the mid-20th century is very

      likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic

      greenhouse gas concentrations.

      "This is an advance since the TAR’s conclusion that “most of

      the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely

      to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas

      concentrations”. Discernible human influences

      now extend to other aspects of climate, including

      ocean warming, continental-average temperatures,

      temperature extremes and wind patterns (see

      Figure SPM.4 and Table SPM.2). {9.4, 9.5}"

      https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/...

      However, even taken at face value, that's a purely statistical argument, when our knowledge is not limited to statistics. We know in great detail how it is that GHGs warm Earth's climate system, which makes the observed warming more corroborative than anything else.

    • jackclee lm profile imageAUTHOR

      Jack Lee 

      10 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Ok, if that is true, wouldn’t some warming be beneficial overall?

      In response to Mike, you are late to his discussion but here is the short bottom line. The weather and climate has been changing for as long as we have measurements. Some scientists have studied the variations over the past few decades and they cannot confirm it is merely man caused because the changes are within the standard deviation of natural causes.

      Before we had sattelites, we had the Farmers Almanac tracking our weather going back well over 200 years. Here is the history of extreme weather in the past -

      https://hubpages.com/education/Extreme-Weather-fro...

      People have short memories...

      I remember growing up in the 1960s in NYC and we had some darn hot summers and some nasty winter snow drifts that covered cars...

    • Doc Snow profile image

      Doc Snow 

      10 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Yes, we are talking about the 'delta'.

      That's precisely what makes possible the scenario in which humans are responsible for *more* than 100% of observed warming--if, as seems likely due to the observed decline in solar radiation, the natural trend would currently be *cooling*, and, contrariwise, we observe *warming*, then the human effect must be larger than that observed warming, with part of it counteracting the natural cooling which would otherwise be observable.

      And that's not merely a hypothetical; it's quite likely what is in fact going on:

      "...as NASA’s Dr Gavin Schmidt has pointed out, the IPCC’s implied best guess was that humans were responsible for around 110% of observed warming (ranging from 72% to 146%), with natural factors in isolation leading to a slight cooling over the past 50 years."

      https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-why-scientist...

      So, to answer your question, my guess would be that, absent human GHG emissions, we'd see a slightly cooler climate in 30-100 years.

    • peoplepower73 profile image

      Mike Russo 

      10 months ago from Placentia California

      How about the Co2 greenhouse effect created by humans that causes the suns rays to be reflected back to earth? Studies have shown that the sun has not become any hotter, but the earth has because of an increase in Co2 emissions.

      To keep it simple, the earth is becoming darker because of the polar ice caps melting. The Ice allowed the sun's rays to be reflected but because of the greenhouse effect those rays get reflected back to earth. Because of population growth, including urban sprawl, pavement, deforestation, fire storms, etc, the sun's rays are being absorbed by all the darker stuff and the earth including the oceans are rising and becoming warmer.

      Warmer oceans create more energy giving us more severe storms. Oceans rising coupled with severe storms causes massive flooding of the coastal seaboards.

      Bottom line is Global Warming is happening now and the entire world is feeling the effects of it. It may be hotter in California, but the firestorms have wiped out massive areas of forest that absorbed the sun's rays. As seen from satellite pictures, they are just massive barren areas that are now absorbing the sun's rays which adds to the Global Warming effect.

      I know this is not an elegant scientific explanation, but everyone is experiencing the effects in one form or another, whether it be colder weather, warmer weather, severe storms, or flooding and Co2 emissions created by humans, play a big part in the overall effects.

    • jackclee lm profile imageAUTHOR

      Jack Lee 

      10 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Yes, but nature does not stand still either. What if humans did not exist at all, what would you guess the changes would be in 30-100 years? In science, that is called a baseline. If the baseline is stable and unchanging, then you can claim all the effects is due to human activity. If the baseline changes over time, then we are talking about the delta. The difference between nature and human living side by side. Right?

    • Doc Snow profile image

      Doc Snow 

      10 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      "Doc, but what about time scale?"

      First, one must differentiate between the time scales for *causes* and for *effects*.

      If we accept for the moment that GHG levels are the main relevant cause, then the time scale for helpful action is pretty short--that was the subject of the recent IPCC SR 1.5, which concluded that, while there are a number of possible 'pathways' to avoid highly damaging levels of warming, we need to do much more than we are now doing, beginning as soon as practicable. More specifically, they generally involve actual emissions declines by 2030, and emissions neutrality by 2055 or so. (That's extremely challenging to do, though technically possible.) Details here:

      http://ipcc.ch/pdf/special-reports/sr15/sr15_spm_f...

      For *effects*, the different aspects may have quite different time scales. For temperature, the above-cited SPM projects that:

      "Human activities are estimated to have caused approximately 1.0°C of global warming above pre-industrial levels, with a likely range of 0.8°C to 1.2°C. Global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate."

      (Obviously, if we decreased emissions as described, that would not be the case.)

      But the effects of that increase would continue to materialize over time. Biological responses depending on temperature would presumably follow fairly directly, or some at least would: we'd see the spread of Zika continue from year to year and decade to decade. Sea ice would continue to decline from decade to decade; probably the model studies projecting the first 'ice-free' minimum (conventionally defined as less than 1 million km2) as happening between 2030 and 2050 would be correct. But sea level rise--the rate of which, as you know, is not well-constrained at present due to lack of comprehensive knowledge of 'dynamic' ice loss processes--would continue probably for centuries, even if temperature stabilized say, during the last half of the century.

      So, there isn't a single simple answer on the *effects* side. Frustrating, but nature is not obliged to gratify our wish for such.

    • jackclee lm profile imageAUTHOR

      Jack Lee 

      10 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc, but what about time scale? I can accept all that you postulate about C02 and its effect on climate, but how long will this take? Again, no scientists that I come across has been able to answer this simple question. They have all these models but as we well know, they have been inaccurate at predicting time scale. If it will take 200 years or more, then it is close to the existance of the United States as a nation.

      Therefore, my conclusion is, if it happens, we can deal with the effects and it is not the apocalypse they warn us about.

    • Doc Snow profile image

      Doc Snow 

      10 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      No offense, Jack, but John is correct when he says this:

      "I do believe that climate scientists consider and research all of these positive and negative drivers, including the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth, volcanic activity, natural sinks for greenhouse gases, man-made and natural emissions of greenhouse gases, water vapor, etc."

      And it's easy to demonstrate that with simple Google Scholar searches. Let's take them one topic at a time:

      Sunlight reaching the Earth: Search terms, "climate and insolation". Hits, 96k.

      Link:

      https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sd...

      Volcanic activity: Search terms, "climate and volcanic activity". Hits, 347k.

      Link:

      https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sd...

      Natural sinks for greenhouse gases: Search terms, "climate and natural greenhouse gas sinks", hits, 168k.

      Link:

      https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sd...

      Man-made and natural emissions of greenhouse gases: Search terms, "climate and natural and anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions", hits, 215k.

      Link:

      https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sd...

      Water vapor: Search terms, "climate and water vapor", hits, 835k.

      Link:

      https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sd...

      So, far from being ignored under some assumption that 'the greenhouse effect is the only driver,' these influences (and more) have been studied literally tens or hundreds of thousands of times.

      I should probably clarify something, though. The conclusion of all the research on these other factors *is precisely what leads to the conclusion that today, human greenhouse gas emissions are the main driver of observed Terrestrial temperature trends.*

      In other words, it's not that scientists assume blindly that it *must* be us causing climate change; it's that, having looked very comprehensively at *all* factors affecting climate, it turns out that the one that's having by far the largest effect is human GHG emission.

      And there's a reason for that: other natural drivers (solar radiation, volcanic activity) don't show strong systematic trends over the relevant time scales. Should solar radiation increase by 40%, as the concentration of CO2 has done since pre-Industrial days, we wouldn't notice a climatic effect--because we'd all be dead! (Better hope that doesn't happen.)

      So I'll gladly affirm that the *potential* effect of solar radiation change is greater than that of GHGs. Something analogous may also be true of volcanic activity; for instance, it's thought to be a big factor in the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, hundreds of millions of years ago.

      However, unless and until solar variability increases, or we enter a new geological phase of increased volcanism for whatever reason, it's anthropogenic climate change that we need to worry about for practical purposes today.

    • jackclee lm profile imageAUTHOR

      Jack Lee 

      10 months ago from Yorktown NY

      I came about it from another path. I was first convinced by the science until after a few years, when the dire predictions did not materialize. I started looking deeper to see what is going on...

      I realized the science has been copted by environmentslists...

      It is also brainwashed into a generation of kids growing up watching Al Gore’s documentary.

      As an engineer, I just don’t see how the predictions can come true.

      After attending many colloquims on this topic at LDEO, I realized the scientists themselves have not asked the basic questions. They just assume as most people that the greenhouse effect is the only driver.

    • Rock_nj profile image

      John Coviello 

      10 months ago from New Jersey

      There are many drivers of global climate. Like most things in life, it's a complex system. There are both positive and negative feedback loops affecting the global climate all of the time. I do believe that climate scientists consider and research all of these positive and negative drivers, including the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth, volcanic activity, natural sinks for greenhouse gases, man-made and natural emissions of greenhouse gases, water vapor, etc.

      It's not a matter of climate scientists having it both ways. Any reputable scientist is going to consider every possible explanation for something they are studying, and that includes climate scientists. They do factor in things like sunspot activities and the strength of the sun's radiation reaching the Earth. In fact, the field of climate science actually grew out of the scientific inquiry into what caused the ice ages. They weren't looking for global warming at all. They were looking for an explanation for the opposite, why the Earth periodically cooled into an ice age in the past. Eventually, the evidence mounted that global warming was likely to occur in the future if CO2 levels rose dramatically. I wrote about it in my article about the History of Global Warming. It's quite fascinating, especially since climate science was a controversial field of study from its beginning.

    • jackclee lm profile imageAUTHOR

      Jack Lee 

      10 months ago from Yorktown NY

      John, that may be true but it proves my contention all along. These climate scientists cannot have it both ways. On one hand they claim human activities are the main driver behind global warming, now on the other hand, the sunspot variability csn sway global temperature as well... which is it? Perhaps the truth is somewhere in between.

    • Rock_nj profile image

      John Coviello 

      10 months ago from New Jersey

      If sunspot activity does fall into a prolonged drought for 50 or 70 years, reducing the intensity of sunlight reaching Earth, as it did from the mid 17th century until the early 18th century (coinciding with the "mini ice age"), the question will be whether the enhanced greenhouse currently in place will drive global temperatures or if slightly reduced incoming sunlight will be the primary driver. Most likely, it would cause a pause in global warming, rather than another "mini ice age," but we'd have to wait and see what actually happens. One thing of note is that the Earth has warmed about 1 degree Celcius over the past 100 years. The most recent 50 of those years have recorded a decreasing sunspot trend, as we head towards a broad minimum, while global temperatures have shot higher during these same 50 years.

    • jackclee lm profile imageAUTHOR

      Jack Lee 

      10 months ago from Yorktown NY

    • jackclee lm profile imageAUTHOR

      Jack Lee 

      10 months ago from Yorktown NY

      It is not my prediction but some scientists out of the main stream on climate change. Also, based on past history of the 1650-1700 period Maunder minimum.

    • Rock_nj profile image

      John Coviello 

      10 months ago from New Jersey

      What do you base your prediction of a coming mini ice age? Sunspot activity reaching a minimum for an extended period (perhaps)? Anything else?

    • jackclee lm profile imageAUTHOR

      Jack Lee 

      10 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Marie, very wise observation. It is strange how intelligent scientists cannot make the simple deduction.

    • Marie Flint profile image

      Marie Flint 

      10 months ago from Tawas City, Michigan USA

      Global warming is the prelude to the expected mini-Ice-Age, which will be a gradual change, not a quick, catastrophic experience. We have time to prepare for securing the necessities of life, and some may opt to move to safer geographical locations (coastal areas are considered the most dangerous).

      Spiritual resources advise "getting off the grid," geothermal energy, and decreasing reliance on government, such as coordinating neighborhood resources. We do need to have clean air and drinking water.

      We should not be "ostriches with our heads in the sand," as the changes are real. If I remember correctly, the last Ice Age of the predicted type was 1680 when the River Thames froze completely. That's cold!

      In short, don't panic, but be wise.

    • Doc Snow profile image

      Doc Snow 

      11 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      John, sensible comments.

      A couple of short responses, though. You say 'a little GW is not catastrophic'. I suppose that's true on a global scale. (Although if you are affected by one of the local catastrophes we've had, you may not care--estimates of losses so far are not easy, but certainly would come in above tens of millions of human lives directly impacted, with more than 100,000 premature deaths and $100 billion in economic losses--possibly *much* more.) But we're basically at 1 C warming now, so we are now already at 'a little warming'. A 'little more' would not be good.

      Mora et al. is currently getting some press for their review of identified impacts and its projection forward under various emissions scenarios:

      https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-018-0315-6....

      (Sorry for the unwieldy link.)

      You also say:

      "However, we may have already juiced the atmosphere enough to cause a significant amount of global warming and sea level rise over the next few centuries. We'll just have to observe what occurs."

      I think there's little doubt at this point, personally; as I say, we're already at 1 C, and we're observing ~3 mm per year of SLR, with some (statistically inconclusive) evidence of acceleration of that rate. Given various inertias in the system, we're now at a place of choosing between bad SLR--if we take decisive action on emissions--and worse SLR, maybe *much* worse--if we fail.

      So, my view is that we can't afford merely to observe at this point.

    • Rock_nj profile image

      John Coviello 

      11 months ago from New Jersey

      A little global warming is not catastrophic. It could increase crop yields and extend growing seasons. Certainly, an ice age would be catastrophic for mankind, as food production would plummet, and if the past is a guide, places like New York City would be under 1,000 feet or more of ice. On the other extreme, runaway global warming would also be catastrophic, as farmland becomes arid and places like New York City have large sections flooded by the rising ocean.

      I think you need to read up on ice ages. They last around 100,000 years or a little more. The inter-glacial periods in between are much shorter, in the 12,000 to 15,000 year range. The last ice age ended 15,000 years ago, and the Earth was cooling after reaching its peak inter-glacial temperature about 7,000 years ago. This downward trend ended over the past 170 years. Global temperatures reversed their cooling trend and spiked sharply higher past the prior inter-glacial peak. See the graphic in my article "The History of Global Warming and Origin of The Term Climate Change" for a depiction of these temperature trends.

      The current sunspot activity hasn't seemed to have much effect on global temperatures. We had some of the hottest years ever recorded in recent years, as sunspot activity decreased to their current minimum, which should be bottoming about now. If a lack of sunspot activity brought us another 50 years that would be good, as it would buy us time to prepare for a much warmer world and coastal plains where many cities are located being flooded by the oceans. There appears to be a trend in which renewables along with large battery storage technology are advancing to a point at which they are truly economically and practically competitive with fossil fuel sources of energy, so 50 years would help with this transition as well. However, we may have already juiced the atmosphere enough to cause a significant amount of global warming and sea level rise over the next few centuries. We'll just have to observe what occurs.

    • jackclee lm profile imageAUTHOR

      Jack Lee 

      11 months ago from Yorktown NY

      John, assume that is true, why is a little warming catastrophic? Would we want to stave off the next ice age if we could?

      As I said, global warming has some positive effects. There are parts of the world that would welcome some warming...it would extend their growing season.

      Ice ages comes around about every 100,000 years.

      If the current quiet sunspots continue, we may enter a mini ice age very shortly. Perhaps we may just luck out. It would buy us another 50 years or so...before the warming take over.

    • Rock_nj profile image

      John Coviello 

      11 months ago from New Jersey

      Since we are at the end of a typical inter-glacial period between ice ages, the Earth should, in fact, be slipping into another ice age right about now. If mankind wasn't here, it could be assumed that the Earth would continue its natural cycle and be dropping into an ice age now that the current inter-glacial period is about 12,000 years old and that's about how long they have lasted in recent times. It's also the direction global temperatures were trending (downward towards an ice age) until about the mid 19th century. But, Earth is doing the opposite of what this pattern holds. Instead, it is warming rather rapidly and is far exceeding recent inter-glacial temperature peaks, on its way to what may be far higher temperatures within a couple of hundred years. What is the variable here? Mankind's activities.

    • Doc Snow profile image

      Doc Snow 

      11 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      "It is not a one size fit all. In parts of the world, an increase in CO2 leads to a greener planet and more food production and help reduce hungar in some third world nation."

      CO2 does encourage plant growth, but not necessarily crop *quality*, as there is some evidence that it tends to decrease nutritional quality at the same time. And it's not usually a limiting nutrient.

      But most crucially, it *is* one size fits all, in the sense that CO2 is a well-mixed gas, so you can't increase it where it's needed and decrease it where it's not; the atmosphere is the atmosphere. (Indoor applications being an obvious exception, of course.)

      "It also increases oxygen output which is one of the gases humans need to breathe."

      I don't think so; it increases total oxygen *flux*--that is, by increasing total photosynthetic activity, it increases the *throughput* of oxygen. Atmospheric oxygen is conserved, AFAIK. The only exception to that is, ironically, fossil-fuel burning, which actually does reduce atmospheric free oxygen (but, thankfully, to a tiny extent).

      There's a nice explanation here:

      http://www.columbia.edu/cu/21stC/issue-2.1/broecke...

      "The difference is, I am not willing to sacrifice my standard of living or some other people’s standard of living to achieve the goals which seems arbitrary and not too effective either."

      They are not arbitrary, and there is no evidence that addressing GHG burden would be ineffective, although some folks like to reiterate that claim as if it actually had some kind of factual basis. And on the opposite side of the ledger, there's good evidence that doing nothing will indeed harm everyone's standard of living--not to mention quality of life, which isn't quite the same thing.

    • jackclee lm profile imageAUTHOR

      Jack Lee 

      11 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc, my question about CO2 being a pollutant is crutial to understanding the thinking of some environmentalist. To them, CO2 is bad all around and anyway to reduce it, such as regulating coal is good for them...however, CO2 has positive benefits. It is not a one size fit all. In parts of the world, an increase in CO2 leads to a greener planet and more food production and help reduce hungar in some third world nation. It also increases oxygen output which is one of the gases humans need to breathe.

      I am glad you took the time to think about these issues and trying to answer them.

      I wish more climate scientists would do the same.

      Despite our disagreements, I want the same thing you do. I want a cleaner and safer planet for my kids and grandkids..

      The difference is, I am not willing to sacrifice my standard of living or some other people’s standard of living to achieve the goals which seems arbitrary and not too effective either.

      I much rather prefer a solution that will let us control our destiny. If it takes another 10 years of study and research, I am all for it. I also support a unified approach to climate models. We don’t need 31 different models but only one that works well.

    • Doc Snow profile image

      Doc Snow 

      11 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      My answers--and I'm not a climate scientist, so these are, as they say, 'for entertainment purposes only:

      1) I think that climate is a larger and more complex problem, mostly because it involves several interacting systems on a global scale. But I can't characterize how much more complex, because we don't understand the matters seismic and volcanic--let's call them EVT in short--well enough yet (AFAIK) to do a good comparison.

      2) I think the issue with EVT is lack of data with which to build workable models. While you and I both suspect that the topic is less complex than climate, there is much better data availability for the latter.

      By the way, I'd quibble with a couple of your statements. First, climate models don't "predict our climate future". They project what will happen under a given set of circumstances, and those circumstances are not predetermined--for example, no climate model can predict if we will radically lower our carbon emissions over the next decade. That is a factor that you have to take into account for past projections: for instance, in assessing Dr. James Hansen's early projections, you need to take into account the forcings used in the scenarios he calculated. How do they compare with the real-world forcings that actually evolved in the real world?

      Second, I've never seen anything that says, as you put it, that "These models also claim to have a confidence factor of 90% in their projections." I'd be very interested to know where you got that impression. Model evaluation is a big deal in the literature--it merits a whole chapter to itself in AR 5, for instance--and even figuring out the best metrics to use is a fraught question. For one thing, climate has many parameters--beyond temperature, there's water vapor, precipitation, evaporation and transpiration, winds, freezing and melting, oceanic and atmospheric currents, cyclonic storms and more. So if Model 1 does a great job in simulating global temperature, but a less-than-stellar job on, say, precipitation patters, how do you balance those in rating the success of the model and comparing it to others?

      https://ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/wg1/WG1A...

      They do say that:

      "There is very high confidence that models reproduce the general features of the global-scale annual mean surface temperature increase over the historical period, including the more rapid warming in the second half of the 20th century, and the cooling immediately following large volcanic eruptions."

      If I remember correctly, 'very high confidence' equates to a 95% chance, so that's close to what you said--but notice that this is just one parameter, and it's hindcasting, not forecasting.

      3) No, calculating the rate of decline of the ice sheets is not straightforward. You're correct that it's not so bad if you're talking about pure melt; you at least know pretty well how much ice there is, and hence how much energy is needed to melt, and you have reasonable numbers on how much energy the system as a whole is gaining, and how fast--though you still have to assume how the rate of energy increase will evolve over an uncertain future, and you still need to address the question of how fast that energy can reach the ice to be melted.

      But in reality, it's not so simple because the ice doesn't just sit there and melt; it moves downhill, and perhaps into the ocean. And the ways in which it moves are not well known, but we *do* know that they have a major effect on the rate of the ice loss. A lot of things have to be figured out: ice fracturing, flexing, meltwater getting to the base of a glacier and lubricating its bedrock and so speeding its flow, the structure of the bedrock itself, and on and on.

      So, not simple.

      4) I'm not sure that I understand your question, or perhaps its significance. The Oxford dictionary gives this definition of "pollution":

      "The presence in or introduction into the environment of a substance which has harmful or poisonous effects."

      https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/pollu...

      So by this definition at least, carbon in the atmosphere can indeed by a pollutant, if the mainstream science is correct.

      It's been my experience that folks who are concerned with making a distinction between GHGs and 'real pollution' tend to reify the importance of toxicity in a substance being considered for characterization as a pollutant. But that's less helpful than one might think, since basically anything can be toxic if given in high enough doses--drink enough water, and it can kill you. And certainly that's true of CO2; there are OSHA standards about it, IIRC.

      Those same folks also usually wish to, as you suggest, address 'real' toxic pollution without having also to address GHG pollution (or, for that matter, pollutants like nitrogen and phosphorus, which exceed CO2 in effectiveness as 'plant food.')

      But as far as I'm concerned, if the effects are harmful, I don't really care whether you call it 'pollution' or 'nutrient enhancement.' Those effects need to be dealt with either way.

      5) Actually, I won't answer this one, as the answer to that is already out there:

      "...as NASA’s Dr Gavin Schmidt has pointed out, the IPCC’s implied best guess was that humans were responsible for around 110% of observed warming (ranging from 72% to 146%), with natural factors in isolation leading to a slight cooling over the past 50 years.

      "Similarly, the recent US fourth national climate assessment found that between 93% to 123% of observed 1951-2010 warming was due to human activities."

      https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-why-scientist...

      "It starts by answering these basic questions and putting their face and name behind them."

      Quite a few scientists already do; Dr. Schmidt is a prominent example. Just for one instance, he's been a primary [volunteer] moderator of the climate science communication blog RealClimate for many years, and has been quite public, having given many interviews and answered many press inquiries over the years.

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