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Carbon Brief does energy budgets

One criticism of the energy budget model approach that lies behind these kind of studies is that it doesn't take into account the role of the oceans in taking up excess heat. Other estimates of climate sensitivity using climate models support the higher end of the IPCC's likely range.

Carbon Brief is struggling again.

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Reader Comments (76)

I do not usually raise technical points as I am conscious of not having the technical background. Reading the Carbon Brief article I am astonished by the statement that the actual TCS does not make a lot of difference, indeed Myles Allen says so ( yes - I know! - I watched his evidence to the Parliamentary Select Committee). But the TCR to CO2 concentration is logarithmic (as , I suppose, is current emissions growth). Lubos Motis recently calculated that we have already passed the 50% response point on the way from 280ppm to 560ppm and the higher IPPC levels of TCR are clearly invalid. Since the TCS determines the CO2 concentration which results in the (admittedly arbitrary) 2C limit in
Average Global temperature and therefore the total global emissions limit to be proportioned in Paris 2015, the reluctance of IPPC AR5 to declare a "preferred mean value" for TCS will, possible for the first time, induce a technical debate at the COP! That will be worth watching.
In any case - the admission that ocean heat content , an unquantified variable, has such an effect, then the whole concept of "climate sensitivity" seems to need radical review.
But I stand, and expect, to be corrected.

Sep 26, 2014 at 7:35 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenese2

I sometimes wonder how Myles Allen got his professorship.

Oh, silly me- in the same way as Michael Mann. By distorting the truth to gullible people.

Sep 26, 2014 at 7:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Careful Don, you will be accusing him of performing tricks with loaded dice next. ;)

Sep 26, 2014 at 8:10 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

or is Science's greatest failure too much to consider?

Sep 26, 2014 at 8:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterHamish McDougal

Diogenese2 -

Lubos Motis recently calculated that we have already passed the 50% response point on the way from 280ppm to 560ppm and the higher IPPC levels of TCR are clearly invalid.

This is what I was going to say before I got sidetracked by Myle's attempted Newsnight trick. If you take away the typical 0.2C per decade from UHI in the last 60 years, and use raw surface station data which has not been dubiously selected, adjusted and homogenised to suit the agenda and further the cause, the actual increase in global surface temperatures in the last century is probably half a degree at the most, and this was in the early 20th century when even the IPCC agreed that anthropogenic CO2 emissions were not significant enough to increase temperatures (so the rise must have been due to natural causes). Yet CO2 has risen from 300 to 400ppm over the same time period? Despite what Peter Stott claimed (when he mislead the politicians and bureaucrats who then gerrymandered the IPCC's SPM5 in Copenhagen), thanks to Beer-Lambert Law, the relationship between atmospheric CO2 concentration and resulting temperatures is logarithmic, not linear.

If I had to bet the house on it I would go for a climate sensitivity of 0.25C and 0.5C at the very most. The challenge is not for me to prove I am right, but for the alarmists to prove me wrong, with reliable, unadulterated observational evidence.

Sep 26, 2014 at 9:19 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

Do I gather Nic and Judy got the wrong answer because they did not use a climate model?

Sep 26, 2014 at 10:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterH2O: the miracle molecule

Not quite as open as Berkley – I have attempted to be the first commenter, to no avail; modded out, blocked, or ignored? Meh.

Sep 26, 2014 at 11:45 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent


Millikan? I don't understand the reference. Could you perhaps mean the Michelson-Morley experiment?

Sep 27, 2014 at 1:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dixon

@Glenn Dixon, check out the Millikan Oil Drop experiment...

Sep 27, 2014 at 2:02 AM | Registered Commenterwoodentop

Carbon Brief's Dr Mat Hope ..... holds a PhD on climate change communication in US politics from the University of Bristol!

Does Bristol University also offer a PhD in "Climate change communication in UK politics"??

Sep 27, 2014 at 3:04 AM | Unregistered Commenterbetapug

betapug said:

Does Bristol University also offer a PhD in "Climate change communication in UK politics"??

Universities do not offer PhDs on any topic. The topic is chosen by the postgraduate student in agreement with a supervisor in the relevant university department. Mat Hope could have chosen to do his thesis on climate change communication in UK politics had he wanted to.

Sep 27, 2014 at 8:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Perhaps Mat Hope(less) should view this:

Sep 27, 2014 at 8:33 AM | Unregistered Commenterturnedoutnice

@Glenn Dixon, check out the Millikan Oil Drop experiment...

Sep 27, 2014 at 2:02 AM | Registered Commenterwoodent

Oil drop experiment was designed to measure the charge on an electron. I performed it for my first physics degree and it worked. Although not accurate (as far as we can know) it was not far from the current accepted value.

Sep 27, 2014 at 8:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

The IPCC considers all the different ways of calculating climate sensitivity, without making a value judgment about which is best. So as long as there is a body of literature supporting both ends of the likely range, it won't be revising it any time soon.
... and the scaremongers can happily pick whichever figure happens to suit them at the time.
I have always had the distinct impression that there is far too much leeway in climate science (and far too many people prepared to exploit the latitude they are given) for scientists not to follow up on possible situations which could give rise to answers they would rather not have. (Perhaps I should not use the word "scientist" in that sentence?)
Meanwhile politicians at all levels from parish pump to the UN building in New York happily plough ahead with their crazy schemes ignoring the science altogether.

Sep 27, 2014 at 9:28 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

They are also removing posts

David S 1 other upvoted you on Your questions on climate sensitivity answered 12 hours ago
Joholn 15 hours ago Removed
As the real temps are not matching the models projected increase

Sep 27, 2014 at 9:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air

or is Science's greatest failure too much to consider?
Sep 26, 2014 at 8:46 PM | Hamish McDougal

Huh? Science's greatest failure? What are you on about? Some smartarse seventy years later carped about which data Milikan discarded and which he retained?

Millikan told us the charge on an electron, from which its mass can be calculated also (after observing the trajectory of electrons in a magnetic field).

In the sixth form the physics teacher could see I was bored. He said "A...! If you are bored, read up about Millikan's experiment and see if you can replicate it". I managed to get illuminated oil drops to hover in an electric field but, lacking a stabilised power supply, not stably enough to measure anything. But it etched Millikan's name into my memory.

Sep 27, 2014 at 10:01 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

I have also noticed that perfectly reasonable comments are removed if they disagree with the claims being made.

Sep 27, 2014 at 10:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

The carbon brief moderator has just removed critical comments.

Sep 27, 2014 at 10:08 AM | Unregistered Commenterturnedoutnice

Including mine! Which merely noted that the author omitted mention of the IPCC's reduction of its sensitivity lower bound and dropping of a central estimate; and that such lack of progress after 25 years of lavish funding might be regarded as a failure.

Sep 27, 2014 at 10:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterNeil McEvoy

Reference Millikan. My physics prof said that years ago it was proposed the average unit of human modesty be named the Kan.

Sep 27, 2014 at 11:16 AM | Registered CommenterGrantB

My comment was deleted after a few hours.

Sep 27, 2014 at 11:43 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Carbon Brief, in stating, "One criticism of the energy budget model approach that lies behind these kind of studies is that it doesn't take into account the role of the oceans in taking up excess heat," links to a post on AndThenTheresPhysics' blog, where that criticism is not even leveled. [Although ATTP is far from complimentary toward the L&C paper.]

I had written the above last night but forgot to hit "post". ATTP has since made a similar comment at Carbon Brief, where it was accepted with a "well, L&C are still wrong because..." response.

By the way, it seems that *all* the old comments have been removed. Oldest comment extant is now 5 hours old.

Sep 27, 2014 at 12:03 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

When I did the oil drop experiment in the late 60s (1969) the tutor had recently been awarded a doctorate for research into Quarks. He said a couple of things when we were doing the experiment and getting "rogue" results.
1. Millikan rejected results he didn't think were correct and kept quiet about it.
2 Some of his (Millikan) results were off by one or two thirds of the approximate value Millikan arrived at, which was part of the reason for Quark research.
3 Later researchers who arrived at what would be considered a "better" result were ignored because of item 1 and Millikan's reputation.

I have never researched it enough to confirm anything he said, but it left me with a life long question on any research "Am I being told everything?" the answer appears almost universally No.

Sep 27, 2014 at 12:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

They need to rewrite their moderation policy.

Comments policy

Stay on-topic: stick to the subject of the blog you are commenting on. Off-topic comments (even if reasonable, polite and interesting) will be removed. Comments which contain links to inappropriate, irrelevant or commercial sites may also be deleted.

Advance the discussion: provide links to useful resources. It can be difficult for readers to sift out good sources, so we ask that you do your best to provide a link to a relevant source to back up statements or arguments you're making. Not doing this might mean your comment gets edited or deleted.

Keep it focused: There's a maximum length of 400 words per comment. Beyond that the comment system will truncate you!

Be polite: comments which contain swearing or which abuse other participants in the debate will be deleted. Particularly:

No ad hominem attacks: vigorous debate is fine, but not personal attacks or accusations.

By dropping the pretence vigorous debate is allowed.

Sep 27, 2014 at 12:14 PM | Registered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air


"Christian Hunt is our Director and Editor. He previously worked as a digital editor for Greenpeace and as a researcher for the Public Interest Research Centre. He holds an MA in Conflict Resolution from Bradford University...."

I guess we can see how Mr. C.Hunt learned to resolve conflicts at Bradford University...

Sep 27, 2014 at 12:25 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

It might be worth watching Roger Pielke Jr's lecture as to why decarbonization is necessary in high energy world. Pick
a figure for CO2 you would like to set a cap at & climate change becomes less significant.

My issue is that current energy policies do nothing to replace baseload coal with a carbon free power source. New coal
power, whether in Germany or China, will have a 40 year life. Windmills and solar are a distraction to achieving
cheap, dispatch able low carbon power.

Sep 27, 2014 at 12:26 PM | Unregistered Commenterrogue

I knew Millikan, and his sidekick Harry Secombe.......

Sep 27, 2014 at 12:33 PM | Unregistered Commenterturnedoutnice

The AR4/5 energy budget model by the IPCC is the basis for the GHE theory. But it works with a FLAT earth and some questionable physics and math to show the need for extra energy-- the GHE. This makes the calculations easy but is rubbish science.

Working with a realistic model of a revolving sphere being heated on one side, the night/day reality that the IPCC ignore, we get realistic temperatures, and no need of a GHE theory that cannot work in reality physics.

The IPCC model also adds energy fluxes to get a desired tempoerature, something that does not happen in reality.

Sep 27, 2014 at 12:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

By what process do the oceans naturally take up any heat except by radiation from the sun or undersea volcanoes. I spent 20 minutes blowing from my mouth into a small glass half filled with water, with a thermometer in the water. Apart from a headache, I noticed no other changes. Water stayed the same temperature. Where have I gone wrong???? Perhaps I should consult with one of the founders of the Royal Institution of Great Britain?

Count Rumford immersed a cannon barrel in water and arranged for a specially blunted boring tool. He showed that the water could be boiled within roughly two and a half hours and that the supply of frictional heat was seemingly inexhaustible. Rumford confirmed that no physical change had taken place in the material of the cannon by comparing the specific heats of the material machined away and that remaining.

Sep 27, 2014 at 12:52 PM | Registered Commenterperry

The energy balance models put constraints on the likely upper range as well as lowering the bottom end of the climate sensitivity range.

The projections of CAGW comes from the top end of the ECS range. With L&C this is reduced to 2.45C, which compares with the IPCC's 4.5C and possibly up to 6C. In AR4 the most likely figure for ECS was 3C.

As the most extreme scenarios become less likely the importance of climate change to energy policy becomes reduced.

However, as Roger Pielke Jr's presentation makes clear (see link above) in a high energy world there is still a case for dispatchable low carbon energy sources. Wind & Solar are doing nothing to displace baseload coal.

The attached paper makes the case that to supply the UK's 35GW average power requirements you would have to cover Wales in windmills, and 1/3rd of Scotland 500m deep in reservoirs for pumped hydro to back it up, and make it dispatchable.

Sep 27, 2014 at 12:56 PM | Unregistered Commenterrogue

The following link is to a cartoon that sums up the alarmist view very well. Knowing that they are always right because they are only trying to make things better is a heavy burden. Did it ever occur to them that terrorists also believe that they are making things better too? Actually, absolutely everyone believes that they are only trying to make things better. So let's sum it up:

1) I am trying to make the world better with my beliefs.
2) Your beliefs are different than mine.
3) Therefore you are a bad person who is trying to make the world worse.

I find it interesting how myopic people using that logic are. It applies to every belief equally and is thus completely useless.

Sep 27, 2014 at 1:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterRedbone

The Carbon Brief moderator is removing critical comments, so it is clearly not a discussion forum. Is what remains any different from an alarmist propaganda site?

Sep 27, 2014 at 1:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

Sorry to rain on anyone's parade but I don't think that "climate sensitivity" is a useful concept at all.

Sep 27, 2014 at 1:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

@Jack Hughes: it's actually near zero so it is truly worth ignoring.

Sep 27, 2014 at 2:03 PM | Unregistered Commenterturnedoutnice

What kind of losers are these Brief people?

I left a comment - it is still up there. The blogger AndPhysics posted a comment following mine, how he disagreed what the article said about him. My reaction was: 'Wait, I don't remember any quote discussing any scientist or individual except Myles Allen', only to realise the first dissenting link in the article was to AndPhysics' blog

Scan the article and the only outgoing links/external material holding up the argument are
1) a link to AndPhysics' blog
2) a quote from Myles Allen
3) a link to an article on Carbon Brief
4) a link to a Climate Progress article.

I pointed this out:

Roz, Just noticed that your article headlined impressively as "your questions on climate sensitivity answered" includes a sum total of two sources, one of whom is a pseudonymous blogger who actually disagrees with your interpretation and the other a climate scientist who says the evidence under consideration is immaterial to his conclusions.

This comment, and about 20 others have been deleted. The browser tab from my comment shows the number.

Reason? John Russell, who is here for the occasional drubbing, is moderator on Carbon Brief. Russell is a long-time Skepticalscience author, secret forum insider and TV film-maker.

After having comments deleted, Russell pimps AndPhysics' blog:

The '...and Then There's Physics' blog is always worth reading; especially the comments.

In other words, out-and-out Skepticalscience-style Crusher Crew meat-puppetry.

Carbon Brief is funded by the European Climate Foundation. Does their science expertise mandate them to get tangled in partisan blog wars in this manner?

Sep 27, 2014 at 2:18 PM | Unregistered Commentershub

"The '...and Then There's Physics' blog is always worth reading; especially the comments."

...and Then There's Physics says:

That’s a bit of a pity but we can’t really expect Andrew M. or those who comment regularly at BH to consider the broader points. Nit picking minor errors and cherry-picking is what they do best, and if we took that away from them, they’d have nothing left.

Sep 27, 2014 at 2:50 PM | Unregistered Commenterredc

'Christian' on that thread is Christian Hunt of Carbon Brief.

Bumping off questions from sceptics, i.e., BH readers and posting the same material on a different venue is creative sock-puppetry.

Sep 27, 2014 at 3:06 PM | Registered Commentershub

If you want enlightenment don't bother going to Carbon Brief. It is difficult to find another example of such brazen one-sided propaganda unless you enjoy seeing censorship happen before your eyes.

Sep 27, 2014 at 4:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

Look through the SKS leaked forum for Carbon Brief references - working together..

additionally - Here is Christian -In his greenpeace days)

26 year-old Christian Hunt, another of the people on the roof, said: "We've heard a lot of talk from politicians, lots of speeches and soaring rhetoric and new targets, but little real action. That needs to change. As MPs return from their summer break we need to see them come together, put their differences behind them and agree to simple steps that will slash emissions here in Britain, grow new green industries and set the kind of example that could build trust and break the deadlock before the Copenhagen conference."

Sep 27, 2014 at 4:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Christian Hunt (editor of the CarbonBrief) in his Greenpeace days....

".... Honestly, the only reason I now care about what's currently happening to our planet is because about three and a half years ago I took a job temping as a data entry clerk for the NHS - a job so tedious that they literally couldn't find anyone who wanted to do it permanently. After about six months, at the end of a particularly long day, one of my very pleasant colleagues leaned over my desk with a beaming smile on her face. "Oh!" she said, "we've never had anyone last as long as you before."

And that was the fateful moment. That evening, in a desperate attempt to escape, I bought a copy of the Guardian, and quite literally took the first job I could find that would have me. Unfortunately, being trained in maths, philosophy and peace studies didn't turn out to be the bullet-proof guarantee of employability I'd assumed it would be. The only job I could find was unpaid and in an area of work I had little interest in - trying to sell books about climate change.

The ‘job' involved moving to the deepest, darkest valleys of Wales, a country blessed by poor transport links and near year-round rain. I was volunteering at a place called the Centre for Alternative Technology, and what an introduction to the world of environmentalism it was - if you want to chuck yourself in at the deep end, there are worse places to do it than CAT. Climate change discussions around the (communal) lunch table, compost toilets and solar roofs, naked saunas with your colleagues. It was, to say the least, a bit of an eye opener. After about a month of freaking out I got into it, largely because of the cool people that I met (often in saunas) who encouraged me to learn about the ways in which our planet is now changing, and who managed to make working on what can be quite a daunting subject enjoyable and interesting. It's a great place, I recommend you check it out.

Over the next three years in Machynlleth I got to think and write about climate change science and policy, to run workshops on the subjects with people much more intelligent than myself, to camp out in exciting highly-industrialized scenic locations, to be detained by the police, and to start an offsetting company (of sorts) with my flatmate. All of which was good preparation for rocking up at Greenpeace a few months ago.

So, how on Earth can I claim to not be an environmentalist? "


some might say, he has spent a career in a green bubble.

photo, he is in the middle

CarbonBrief, ECF, SkepticalScience - neutral ;-) Not.

Sep 27, 2014 at 4:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Harold W wrote:

Carbon Brief, in stating, "One criticism of the energy budget model approach that lies behind these kind of studies is that it doesn't take into account the role of the oceans in taking up excess heat," links to a post on AndThenTheresPhysics' blog, where that criticism is not even leveled. [Although ATTP is far from complimentary toward the L&C paper.]

It is amusing to see Carbon Brief make such a basic error and to wrongly attribute it to ATTP, and to see such stupid things said at ATTP's blog.

Sep 27, 2014 at 4:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterNic Lewis

"Sorry to rain on anyone's parade but I don't think that "climate sensitivity" is a useful concept at all."
Sep 27, 2014 at 1:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

I agree, it starts with the questionable premise that the main driver of temperature change is CO2 and ignores other forcings.

Sep 27, 2014 at 4:48 PM | Registered CommenterPatagon

It appears Mr AndPhysics had gotten a drubbing in the comments and friend and moderator John Russell stepped to protect him deleting the whole thread in the process:

Sep 27, 2014 at 5:10 PM | Registered Commentershub

Carbon Brief makes the bizarre claim that the degree of sensitivity will have no impact on policy.

That is so hugely misguided it's difficult to know where to begin. All CO2 abatement efforts have both costs and benefits. Determining whether the benefits outweigh the costs require us to know what the benefits are, and that requires knowledge of climate sensitivity.

Sep 27, 2014 at 6:02 PM | Unregistered Commenterrabbit

The Christian Hunt background posted by Barry is a bit of an eye opener. Then, perhaps not.

I does explain a great deal.

I think his first career move was of much greater tangible benefit to society.

Sep 27, 2014 at 6:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

... being trained in maths, philosophy and peace studies didn't turn out to be the bullet-proof guarantee of employability I'd assumed it would be.
Thanks, Christian. I was in need of a good laugh this afternoon.
It's hard to tell whether this is a work of fiction or whether he actually believes this bit of drivel. If he does he obviously didn't ask around very much, or if he did he must have missed the looks of pity and the hysterical laughter.

Sep 27, 2014 at 6:21 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Did I mention that Christian was on the editorial team of the ZeroCarbonBritain report (funded by Public Information Research Centre - PIRC - written by Tim Helweg Larsen, also Richard Hawkins involved

involved in Carbon Safety Report and blog (PIRC) - with Richard Hawkins and Dr Adam Corner.

Christian, Richard and Adam, are now all trustees/directors of the PIRC..

the PIRC's other claim to fame, is giving Franny Armstrong (Age of Stupid) the idea for the 10:10 campaign (they describe this on PIRC website (Franny was a director of the PIRC)

Richard Hawkins minor claim to fame, is being chained to a JCB with George Monbiot, possibly whilst wearing a polar bear suite, at a welsh coal field. Their is a fun video of Monbiot wearing the polar bear suit, and Greenpeace Christian Hunt, running across a coal filed in a green jumpsuit - youtube polar bears invade welsh coal mine..

what a small green insular activist world they all live in......

Sep 27, 2014 at 7:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Turnedoutnice (Sep 27, 2014 at 8:33 AM):

…has been proving the theory of global warming by measuring atmospheric gas concentrations…
I’m sorry… I cannot see the connect. Perhaps I could monitor the level of water in my bath by the page I am on in the book I’m reading – or checking whether the meat is done by the length of the grass on the lawn.

With that kind of logic in the programme, is it worth sitting through the entire 46 minutes of it? Now, had something along the lines of, “…has been measuring atmospheric gas concentrations to gain more information to help theories on climate to develop…” been said, it would have made more sense.

Sep 27, 2014 at 7:57 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

It might be worth watching Roger Pielke Jr's

If it was senior you'd be right.

Sep 27, 2014 at 8:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

Thank you, Barry Woods, an interesting excerpt on Mr Hunt’s cossetted life. I, too, have worked at the CAT in Machynlleth, for a few days prior to its official opening. A good idea for research into “alternative technologies”, the fact that it has not launched a tsunami of "alt-tech" into the real world (let’s be honest, if it is viable, then big business – boo! hiss! – would quickly exploit its potential) suggests it has not yet found anything worthwhile, but it must keep plugging along. It was the first time I have worked with university students, and was an eye-opener into the utter uselessness that can exist – I had never realised before how long it can take to load a shovel with shale! Eventually, while the students were engaged in pointless tasks, quite happily pointlessly doing nothing in particular, my siblings and I were getting the work done such that the foreman of the day soon ran out of jobs. Quite enjoyable as a break from the real world, but shocking to discover that others (educated on my tax-dollar) think that that is how the real world should be; the guy, as others have pointed out, is living in a green bubble.

Sep 27, 2014 at 8:23 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

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