If Trees Had Earth Day

April 21st, 2015 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

Overheard in a local forest…

Molly Maple: “Hey, Heath, you gonna participate in Earth Day activities this year?

Heath Hickory: “I don’t know, Molly, I’m not really into that whole Earth Day thing. What’s it about?

Molly: “Well, it recognizes that the world is now dangerously overcrowded. Did you know there are now about 1 trillion of us? Experts at United Forests say we are now at the carrying capacity of the Earth. Each year billions of us die just due to overcrowding and competition for natural resources.

Heath: “So? What can I do about it? I’m only one tree.

Molly: “Well, we could start by not producing so many seedlings. Also, do you ever think about all of the vines, flowers, and shrubs that we displace? They have rights, too, you know.

Heath: “I don’t know, Molly. Don’t you think that trees have a right to take what we want? I mean…survival of the fittest and all.

Molly: “Really, Heath? Really? That sounds kinda biophobic to me.

Heath: “See Molly, that’s why I don’t like to get involved with things like Earth Day. Everyone is so judgmental, trying to tell all the other trees how to live. Just let me live my life as nature intended.

Molly: “OK, Heath, but you’ll understand someday, when trees have used up all of the natural resources. The experts at the UF all agree that our continued use of atmospheric carbon dioxide could cause mass starvation by the end of this century.”

Heath: “Yeah, well, they’ve been saying scary stuff like that since I was knee-high to a shrub, over 100 years ago. And too many trees like you believe it. So, go ahead and participate in Earth Day. Have fun.

Molly: “OK, well, I just thought I’d ask. (under her breath) Stupid pin-oak.

Heath: (under his breath) “Hard-headed maple.

76 Responses to “If Trees Had Earth Day”

Toggle Trackbacks

  1. mpainter says:

    I know how to save those trees from starvation but I dare not say it lest I be mobbed by a crowd of foaming EarthDay activists.

  2. Bil Danielson says:

    Well done – touch all the bases Roy, touch em all!

  3. thefordprefect says:

    OK I know it was tounge in cheek.


    trees do not look after the young unsuited to growing conditions,
    trees do not care for injured others,
    trees do not help the genetically damaged to survive,
    trees do not think of future generations living conditions – they do not think!
    Their one aim is to reproduce.

    Whilst this may be the way some humans act, I hope we care for others no matter what mental or physical condition, We care, I hope, for our children’s future:

    “We do not inherit the world from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children. Evolution expands with every generation in order for the universe to survive and thrive. Children are the only future of this planet’s human life.

    In today’s world there are so many ways in which this ignorance is propagated and our human brain-power abandoned in the process. The only time humanity feels disconnected, combative and competitive for resources is when ignorance eliminates our sense of cooperation and global community. We must leave these ancient – stone-age — competitive constructs behind, and develop — for our children and the generations to follow — a compassionate compatible future.”

    What are you doing Roy to Ensure our children have a future?

    • Children are no more important than we are, for we were once children ourselves. I see no distinction. So, hurting the present generation for SURE, to justify reducing THEORETICAL future risks, is irresponsible…even inhumane.

      Over 1 billion people still don’t have access to electricity, yet here you are no doubt comfortable with your internet access, sufficient food, clean water, free time…

      What are you doing to ensure the present generation has a future?

      • Lewis says:

        Well, for my part, I cut 15 +/- medium size trees each year, just to heat my house. I’ve also cut a few sweetgums, just to get rid of them. I use herbicides to get rid of seedlings – alleviates crowding you know.

      • thefordprefect says:

        Children are no more important than we are, for we were once children ourselves. I see no distinction. So, hurting the present generation for SURE, to justify reducing THEORETICAL future risks, is irresponsible…even inhumane.
        that is a very sad and selfish statement.
        How will the current generation be “hurt” by better insulating houses, driving more efficient vehicles, using a phone for more than a year before upgrading, cutting back on packaging, reducing water losses and lowering use, reducing winter house temps by 1°C increasing summer house temps, Improving efficiency of standby power nothing staggering, and in general it is sensible.
        Humanity has brought many fish stocks to near extinction – now with government controls these are improving. Nearly destroyed out children’s brain with lead in petrol – now regulated out. Regulation is not free but it can be good (EMC, Safety of goods, etc all now regulated by government)

        Over 1 billion people still don’t have access to electricity,
        Yes this is not good. But this is also where we need to HELP them. If they take the same path to industrialisation we did then millions will suffer (see China today). And what is more, if they start using your/our fuel coal gass/nuclear then our fuel price will rise. I guess in your books that it is therefore better to keep them in energy poverty?!

        • Phyte_On says:

          thefordprefect, just curious where you stand on killing unborn children on demand (abortion rights)? Speaking of a compassionate compatible future…

        • mpainter says:

          FTP :
          The greatest benefit of the modern age is inexpensive and readily accessible energy and all other benefits of our era derive from this. This means using fossil fuels and these do not pollute if certain safeguards are employed.
          If the alarmists get their way, our children will suffer the nightmare of energy impoverishment. The biggest threat to our future, and hence to our children’s well being, is the misguided alarmist doctrines.

      • Slipstick says:

        Why should this be an either-or? There is a plethora of choices, most of which can be achieved by reasonable transition with a minimum of disruption. There is no good rationale, beyond greed, for choosing a high probability of leaving a disaster for our grandchildren when there are clear and practical alternatives. The position that any choices other than our current practice will hurt the present generation “for SURE” is simply false, unless your definition of “hurting” is along the lines of 10% profit instead of 20%. As to “THEORETICAL future risks”, as long as there is no evidence that the risk is declining, they are unlikely to stay theoretical and must, as a practice of good engineering, be considered real.

        • Phyte_On says:

          Slipstick, can you be more specific?

          For example, California has a cap & trade scheme to regulate CO2. There is zero scientific evidence that this costly and bureaucratic scheme has any efficacy at all whatsoever in reversing climate change in California or anywhere else in the world.

          This is just one example of government policy that has high costs with no benefit. Therefore, does more harm than good.

          • Phyte_On says:

            last paragraph should read…”…that has high costs with no discernible, measurable impact on the climate.”

          • Slipstick says:

            Of course the cap and trade approach effect on global GHG’s is not measurable; it will be a tiny fraction of the amount being added continuously unless the majority of sources are subject to the same restrictions. But, if you think about it, that’s a secondary goal. The primary goal must be to encourage a change in thinking and practice and to help fund transition costs. Which makes more sense, a cap & trade system or a tax on everyone? Doing nothing, while comforting, is foolishly courting disaster and is not a realistic option.

        • Phyte_On says:

          Again, Slipstick you need to be more specific. You said,

          “Doing nothing, while comforting, is foolishly courting disaster and is not a realistic option.”

          Please be specific as to what disaster will occur in North America if USA does nothing re: CO2 regulations (eg. Calif cap & trade scheme did not exist)? Be specific as to the nature and scope and timing of this catastrophe.

          I get tired of the hand waving that the end is near and we are doomed. Be specific (nature, scope, timing, and region) and accountable for your predictions of these disasters.

          • Slipstick says:

            The difficulty with the since “we don’t know precisely how extensive the effects will be and exactly when they will occur we should do nothing” is that once we do know it will be too late. The nature we do know and are already beginning to experience, increasingly erratic weather patterns, intensification of severe weather, glacial and permafrost melt, rising sea levels, changes in growing regions, etc. etc., etc. The scope is global and the response must also be global to be effective. In fact, nearly every nation on Earth realizes that climate change is happening and that we must respond. That is, of course, with the exception of those localities where leadership, for religious, political, or financial reasons, have decided to pretend nothing is happening in the hope that the ever-growing mountain of evidence to the contrary might prove to be misleading, although this is a diminishing possibility. I find it astounding that some of those leaders, who find the evidence discomforting, have gone so far as to decree or legislate ignorance in response.

            The difficulty with precise predictions is that the climate system is inherently chaotic, with dozens (hundreds?) of feedback and gain interactions and non-linearities (the phase changes of water, for example) and a variable primary input. Imagine a control panel with a hundred knobs and when you turn one, they all turn, with different ratios depending on the knob turned, sometimes reversing direction. Predict the position of all the knobs as each knob is turned; that’s what you are asking for.

        • Aaron S says:

          No one has ever made a convincing case that warm earth conditions are less habitable than modern, but there is amble data from the little ice age that colder conditions kill people and lower quality of life.

          For example, exponential population growth has not slowed during a century of global warming.

    • ChasG says:

      You know how we leave the Stone Age behind? We embrace the Space Age and move to expand humanity beyond the Earth. Thus not only do we help deal with any potential shortage of resources, we work to secure the human race through any disaster that might befall our planet such as:

      1. Asteroid strike – possible extinction event
      2. Volcanic eruptions – severe global cooling/starvation
      3. Tsunami
      4. etc…

      The truly short-sighted thing is to act like the Earth is all we have, and somehow it is assuming “god-like” qualities and worship. The Earth could honestly give a crap about all of us – if it decides to have a volcanic upheaval there is not much we can do about it.

      We should be harnessing asteroids, expanding space facilities and exploring our solar system and beyond. Humanity needs a “distant horizon” to aspire to – it keeps us growing, and it brings out the best in us as we move forward.

    • Aphan says:


      You seem to think that all of humanity, in their heart of hearts, actually WANTS to feel connected, peaceful, and cooperative. Or that at some point in the past all of “humanity felt connected, non-combative and non-competitive for resources”..hence the idea that “the only time” humanity feels this way can be compared to some point in time where humanity did NOT feel this way.

      No matter how deeply, or truly or sincerely SOME, or even most humans might want a peaceful, compassionate future for their children, there will ALWAYS be those who are willing to steal, kill, go to war, and destroy what others have, and for any number of reasons. It’s easier. It’s fun. It’s in their nature. It’s more stimulating than living peacefully. It’s genetic.

      Evolution might expand with every generation, but the universe/nature is filled with violent, volatile, life ending forces that have been destroying and creating planets and systems for billions of years.

      The universe/nature does not look after the young unsuited to growing conditions,
      the universe/nature does not care for injured others,
      the universe/nature does not help the genetically damaged to survive,
      the universe/nature does not think of future generations living conditions – it does not think!

      If human beings are the natural result of evolution governed by a universe/nature that does not care, or think, or help…then what you hope for is a very UNnatural response from a very natural evolutionary creature.

      • Humans have evolved to be both competitive and cooperative. Competition doesn’t have to be just about war and death. It may be possible to reign in those destructive tendencies but only if there is a will to do so.

    • Evan Sayet once made the interesting observation that about 100 years ago stupid people died if they did stupid things. If they did things that were economically irresponsible they would starve or become homeless and die from exposure to the elements. If they engaged in irresponsible behaviours they might also starve, or die of exposure or from disease. But now thanks to the enormous success of intelligent people, Western and other first world economies don’t let their citizenry, even their stupid citizenry, starve or die of exposure or go to great risks to rescue them from diseases they have caught through irresponsible actions. Now all these stupid people are starting to overwhelm and outnumber the smart people. These people talk about “compassionate compatible futures” and other blather of that type, that in its practical effects will cause much death, misery and destruction of wealth.

      • Jamie Kincaid says:

        “Now all these stupid people are starting to overwhelm and outnumber the smart people.”

        Can’t agree more. The stupid people even have their own Cable channel (FoxNews) and climate website (WUWT). They fill Roy Spencer’s comment sections with 100s of repetitive piles of b.b. after every single post. What can be done?

        • Tom Waeghe says:

          Yeah, Jamie, and all the bleeding-heart liberal, progressive, brain-washed people watching all the other brain-washing networks (NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, pMSNBC (egad), etc.) are getting the truth, right?? Talk about B.S.! Be open-minded and explore both sides of the climate issue, and don’t be fooled by those trying to convince you we must go back to pre-industrial times in order to survive. It’s about governmental and global control so that TPTB have resources left for themselves and their families with a much smaller world population of 800 million or less. Be skeptical and follow the money for God’s sake.

  4. JDAM says:

    CO2 does very little to moderate temperature.
    The greenhouse effect is the effect of the atmosphere in reducing the longwave cooling to space rising the surface temperature from 255 K to 288 K (15 C).

    To increase the surface temperature from 255 k to 288 k would require 152.7 W/m2
    P=(5.76×10^-8)(288^4)) – (P=(5.76×10^-8)(255^4) = 152.7 W/m2.

    It would take 11.12 W/m2 to raise the Earth’s surface temperature from 288 K to 290 K (2 C).
    (P= (5.76×10^-8)(290^4) 5.36 W/m2) – (P= (5.76×10^-8)(288^4)) = 11.12 W/m2
    Radiative forcing from CO2 is 1.8 w/m2 doubling would only increase to 3.7 W/m2.

    Yes I used black body approximations Trenberth, Kiehl el at 2008 the average energy radiated up from the earth’s surface was 396W/m2. My calculated value was 396.27 w/m2 at 288 K.

    • JDAM says:

      Oops I made mistake to increase the surface temperature from 255 k to 288 k would require 150.34 W/m2 not 152.7 W/m2

      P=(5.67×10^-8)(288^4)) – (P=(5.67×10^-8)(255^4) = 150.34

      Also it would take 10.95 W/m2 to raise the Earth’s surface temperature from 288 K to 290 K (2 C).

  5. Francisco says:

    Mr. Spencer, you might be a lonely man. “A speaker of truths has no friends” – African Proverb

    However, seems in those days in Africa there were no other speakers of truth or educated listeners.

  6. Billyjack says:

    I will also miss Earth day as I have a hard time considering the human species as an invasive destroyer of the planet. Anyone who believes that dribble should be forced to take a flight from Moscow to the Sakhalin Island for 10 hours and look for cities in the forest.

  7. boris says:

    billyjack Take that flight from Washington DC to San Francisco. Overpopulated? Los Angeles to Anchorage? Roy the thing that gets me about the greenies is a fair number of them think that they are providing for a “future for humanity” in the pristine brave new world of forever balanced, always sustainable world of lower expectations. For them its just a matter of adjusting the way we produce energy, grow our food, and relatively minor adjustments to what we do on a daily basis in our day to day lives.

    As you probably know the story will get quite ugly if the green agenda prevails. As Africa goes down the tubes and people are forced back by poverty to a charcoal economy, rates of starvation, deforestation, and erosion will be biblical. Any very poor area of the world will go over the same precipice while the World Wildlife Fund deploys armed guards to defend endangered species and habitat.

    But herein lies the rub; Sustainable sources of energy cannot provide energy beyond what is required to produce them. There is damn little real profit in the energy in energy out equation as opposed to the paper whirlwind that makes the “sustainables” work financially. That means that the amount of energy that we can afford to invest in capital development for the future collapses. The paper whirlwind may go on-that is, after all, just a political fiction. The result is that now we are locked truly into a Malthusian form of economy that we cannot turn around and build ourselves out of easily. The Greens prevail insuring vast damage to the environment as 8 billion fight over the limited resources maybe to the point of nuclear war. Happy Earth Day

    • Slipstick says:

      Your rub has been a fiction for years now. Yes, sustainable sources used to be inordinately expensive and inefficient but that is no longer true and the rate of improvement is approaching Moore’s Law levels. Your argument is no longer valid.

      • Slipstick says:

        I should have said a Your rub has been a fiction of friction… *smile*

        • boris says:

          Gordon Moore…”I foresee a lack of applicability in 10 years or so.” Moore himself wouldn’t consider his “law” as law of science. The rub remains just as the lack of the need for alarmism remains. There has not been nor could there be some magical breakthrough to concentrate highly defuse energy into useful forms to run a modern industrial economy. Yes- you can do some fun novelties that are things we elect to do because we can and to deliver the energy there any other way would be a waste of building infrastructure of transport costs. If you argued “what the heck if we are so concerned about carbon dioxide let’s transform all our coal fired plants into nuclear powered ones posthaste” then one could take you seriously about your concern for the environment

          • Slipstick says:

            I used Moore’s Law simply as a heuristic. Obviously, it is not a “law” of science. (There’s no such thing as a law in science, which is a model and always an approximation at some level). As to concentrating highly diffuse energy, we do that with all energy sources. By the way, I am not opposed to properly designed fission systems in theory; unfortunately, the waste problem eliminates them as a viable option.

  8. boris says:

    The waste problem is here and it is here to stay. The nuclear Genie will not be put back in bottle. So the intelligent course to take is to be the hands down leader in this technology in its application for commercial power and waste management. Provided we have a modern industrial economy that is technologically advancing the eventual long term solution to disposal will be manageable.

    Or we can just leave it to China, India, Pakistan, Iran Russia, France, Germany, or Sweden to solve those issues. The United States is not the only player on this game.

    • Slipstick says:

      “The waste problem is here and it is here to stay.” Indeed, it is, and, after 70-odd years, we still can’t reliably sequester or dispose of what we’ve already produced. The difficulty is that the waste is enormously toxic and remains so for millenia. When you have a viable management regimen, get back to me.

      • JohnKl says:

        Hi Slipstick,

        You wrote:

        “The difficulty is that the waste is enormously toxic and remains so for millenia.”

        Back in the 1960’s and 70’s given old school water reactors that argument had much weight given that the half life for nuclear waste measured in tens to hundreds of thousands of years if I remember correctly. Today the picture seems mixed. In 1979 Jimmy Carter banned the U.S. processing of nuclear waste but European countries like France and Germany continued on. Later George Bush (the son) put an end to Jimmy Carter’s ban and re-processing commenced. French companies apparently can reprocess nuclear waste retrieving some 100 times the energy old style reactors obtained from the same fuel and the half life of the remaining waste proves only a few decades supposedly. However, technology like energy, fuel, food and all other goods is not equally distributed everywhere. The French willingly accept nuclear waste from countries around the world but simply cannot process the entire volume from what I’ve read. According to Greenpeace, they then cut deals with Russians who assume the vast amount of excess waste the French haven’t means to fully process in a timely manner, but lacking the technology to process it themselves simply store it exposed to the elements in open to the elements fenced in land. What that does to the Russian environment you may wish to ask them.

        Today countries like Norway, China and others seek to exploit the Thorium fission cycle which can obtain yet more energy and Thorium proves much less scarce than uranium or plutonium. Molten Salt Reactors (thorium fluoride salt reactor) can exploit the cycle and apparently without the need of fuel rods and other difficult to manage issues. Moreover, the fuel is less usable by terrorists. Curiously I haven’t hear the U.S. pursuing this line of research.

        Have a great day!

  9. Phyte_On says:

    Slipstick, you continue to be an alarmist (the end is near, we are doomed) but provide nothing specifically as to the climate disasters that will occur in North America in the next 50 to 100 years. Nothing. Just a lot of hand wringing about the sky is falling. Nothing specific. I am still looking for specific climate disasters that are above and beyond what we have experienced in the last 50 to 100 years. Crickets.

    • Slipstick says:

      Specifics? OK, how about this partial list:
      – Record precipitation in the eastern U.S. while California suffers the worst drought in more than a millenium with something on the order of US$10 billion in losses and remediation costs.
      – Record cyclonic activity in southeastern Europe resulting in record flooding.
      – Two of the most powerful North Atlantic storms on record one year after the next resulting in more than US$60 billion in losses and remediation costs.
      – Record heat across the U.S.
      – Record cold in the eastern U.S.
      – Record heat across Australia.
      – Record heat across Europe.
      – Record monsoons in Pakistan and India.
      – The most powerful storm ever recorded in the Bering Sea.
      – Low-lying island nations making preparations to vacate their islands as sea level rise endangers their homes and livelihoods.
      Ooops, you wanted impossible-to-make specific predictions, while these all happened in the last five years. Guess there is nothing to all this climate change claptrap.

      • Chris says:

        All of which is more than likely part of natural climate cycles. There is nothing you mention above that makes an argument for AGW – and if you had ever bothered to visit some of those low lying nations you would know that climate change is the least of their concerns.

        • Slipstick says:

          “Natural climate cycles” is certainly a possible cause, but, if that is the case, there must be a measurable input or mechanism that correlates with the increase in the energy state of the climate and none has been found other than increasing GHG’s. Do you not consider it more than likely that if someone had any solid science demonstrating a correlation other than GHG’s, that they would be showered with money and resources by the fossil fuel industries to further that science?

          • mpainter says:

            The shower stream is from government and we know what it funds. Yes, there is plenty of refutation of the AGW hypothesis. The late warming trend has been shown as caused by the increase in insolation via reduction in global cloud cover.The latest study comes from John McLean, 2014. GHE, yes, AGW via CO2, well, that has yet to be shown.

        • Slipstick says:

          By the way, I doubt very much that water lapping at the front door is a “least” concern.

      • An Inquirer says:

        Your list is not very credible.
        The moisture content in the Eastern U.S. is actually average, but total inches of snowfall has been up because of cold weather.
        There is nothing unprecedented about the drought in CA. CA and the Souothwest are prone to droughts. Science shows much worse droughts in CA’s past.
        There is nothing unusual about cyclonic activity. Past storms have also been intense. Flooding often because worse when we do not let floods go onto the floodplain.
        Hurricane activity and intensity is actually down.
        We do not have record heat across the U.S. Nothing like the 30s and 50s when thousands of lakes dried up in the heat and drought. States are not setting new records for high temperatures. Via adjustments to actual temperatures, you can get “record” temperatures, but those adjusted temperatures are contracted by real-life phenomena.
        Australia has had some high temperatures, but they have been higher in the past.
        Low-lying nations are not suffering from rising sea levels but rather from over exploitation of fresh water supplies, disruption to the coral eco-systems, and mechanical disturbances to their beaches. Focusing on carbon dioxide is taking resources away from actions that could actually fix their problems.

        • Slipstick says:

          First of all, my list was of recent events not averages, my point being that extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and more extreme. When what were previously once-a-century events are happening several times a year around the world, something is changing, and it’s not for the better.

  10. Vincent says:

    The imagined future problems of catastrophe due to overpopulation and diminishing resources seem quite real to me.

    On the one hand we have (at least some of us) the scientific understanding and technical capability to prepare for, and to avoid such problems.

    On the other hand, as a species we seem to be driven by a mindless instinct which expresses itself as an individual, family, tribal and/or national competitiveness for the greatest share of resources, just like animals and plants at a more basic level.

    We tend to think we are very smart and knowledgeable, but let’s get things into perpsective. Several centuries of scientific endeavour have lead us to the hypothesis that 95% of the matter and energy in the universe is totally invisible and undetectable. We call it Dark matter and Dark Energy, but we don’t know if it exists.

    Such is our grasp of reality. Our current theories of Physics tell us that we can be aware of only 5% of the stuff that surrounds us, if we try really hard with our best telescopes and detectors.

    I dream of a world in which CO2 is viewed as an asset to be exploited for its enhancement of plant growth, including edible crops and trees, and its potential to improve soil fertility when sequestered in soil through processes of non-till farming and permaculture.

    I dream of a world which is connected not only by roads and sea lanes, but also by UHVDC cables continuously transporting solar-generated electricity from one part of the globe to another.

    I dream of a world in which electric cars and electric-driven machinery are the norm, and petroleum and coal are used mainly to produce synthetic materials such as super-strong carbon-fibre plastics, resins and graphene etc. which can be stronger than steel.

    I dream of a world in which people use their resources sensibly, instead of the mind-boggling waste that currently takes place throughout the world.

    I’m optimistic about the potential of the human imagination to organize its affairs efficiently and sensibly, but I’m pessimistic about the ability of the majorities to control their animal instincts.

  11. Thanks, Dr. Spencer. A good read.

  12. mpainter says:

    For some interesting data on SL, see NOAA Mean Sea Level charts for US coasts, one chart plotted for each tidal gauge.
    Amazingly, these show a level SL trend for the US coasts for the past 15-20 years. Exceptions are where there is local subsidence, such as Grande Island, La. or at locations in the Chesapeake Bay area, notoriously subsiding.
    The NE US coast shows a rising SL trend which has been variously explained as isostatic adjustment, changes in wind or currents offshore, and, global warming, of course. This rising trend is not found on the other coasts.
    The truth is that tidal gauges on stable coasts show a flat SL trend. It appears that alarms about SL rise are baseless.

  13. Slipstick says:

    mpainter: There are plenty of hypotheses refuting AGW, but few with supporting evidence, and none that I know of that actually work. In the 30-some years I have been following climate science I have seen a multitude of hypotheses and watched their collapse from flawed assumptions, incomplete modeling, or just plain ol’ confirmation bias. I was not familiar with the John McClean paper but I have obtained it and will give it a read; thank you.

    For those that are contemplating a “well, the IPCC models aren’t perfect and yet you think they are useful” screed as a response, I’ll save you the trouble: Given the chaotic (in the mathematical sense) nature and non-linearities of the climate, as well as that we are still learning the behavior and interactions of some of the components, I would be astounded if the models even approached high accuracy over the short term. The models have proven to be accurate over the long term and produce results within the margin of error over the short term; this makes them useful. And to those who contend that models are wrong because they can’t be run in reverse: It’s a chaotic system; reversing the model is not possible unless you can predict all the inflection points.

  14. mpainter says:

    That is McLean, not McClean, as you have put it. I have seen no refutation of this work and if he is right, then it carries great import for climate science. If he is right.
    My view, as a skeptic, is that it is not my place to refute AGW, but for the proponents of that to present convincing evidence. Regarding that, everything I have seen so far offered as support is tenuous and mostly circular. Any discussion usually winds up with the proponents referring to the product of the GCM’s. Very frustrating.

  15. Slipstick says:

    Sorry, typo. The question is what or how much do you consider convincing? Obviously, as a skeptic on either side of any issue, your threshold is a bit higher than someone who tries to be objective and you are more likely to overlook errors that render refuting arguments or evidence invalid or ignore valid supporting arguments or evidence; confirmation bias is simply human nature. Also, in a system rife with feedbacks, it’s hard to determine which are the chickens and which are the eggs, and in many cases they are both, so the analysis necessarily appears circular. I do agree with your frustration; this is a really complicated system we’re trying to analyze and GCM’s are too much of an approximation; they’re like saying every color is a shade of red or green.

    • mpainter says:

      I was born a skeptic and this attitude includes much more than climate issues.
      And ‘scuse me, but a skeptic is _less_ likely to overlook errors and that is the characteristic of the breed because they employ their critical faculties more than non-skeptics.
      You, on the other hand, have swallowed uncritically the usual litany of climate alarms (which you repeat above), and everyone of these falls to the ground when examined closely.
      I urge you to employ your own skepticism in this climate farce. For example, you could study the NOAA Mean Sea Level charts which I have referred to above and see for yourself what the data says. If you do that, you might start to question whether rising SL poses any threat.

      • Slipstick says:

        I did look at the NOAA Mean Sea Level charts at tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov, which I’ve previously consulted, and I did not see what you described. The vast majority of the gauges show a positive trend. Perhaps I am reading the wrong charts or interpreting them incorrectly. For example, for the six Maryland (Cheapeake Bay) stations, which you stated were notoriously subsiding, I see a positive trend greater than 3mm/yr at all stations; Ocean City Inlet is near +6mm/yr. Can you point me to the data to which you were referring?

        • mpainter says:

          Yes, subsidence registers on the gauge as a rising SL which is in fact the case at the subsiding locale. Chesapeake Bay subsidence us due to ground water withdrawal. This problem has been studied by the USGS for decades.Another type is subsidence is isostatic adjustment, and this us thought to be the case with the NE US coast.
          For a east coast gauge at a stable locale, see the Charleston, SC gauge, which shows a flat SL trend for several decades.
          Another type of subsidence is due to sediment loading. This is the case at Grande Isle, La., and the gauge here registers a rising SL. But go down the coast to the Sabine Pass gauge at the Texas border, and this gauge shows a flat trend for the last several decades.
          An interesting Mean SL Trend chart is the one given by the gauge at Galveston. This city experienced subsidence due to groundwater withdrawal. Controls on this were implemented about 20 years ago and guess what? …they worked!
          The SL Trend there charts a rising SL until about 15 years ago, when it the trend flattened.
          In reading these SL Trend charts, focus on the last 20 years; ignore the century-long trend lines put by the NOAA.

          • Slipstick says:

            Since I found this topic interesting, I did a bit more research and it appears that the subsidence in the Chesapeake accounts for only about half of the gauge rise at those stations. Yes, there are some stations on the U.S. coasts that do not show any rise or even a decline in MSL, but that does not alter the fact that multiple satellite altimetry measurements, as well as the Argo network, show a global MSL rise. The continental U.S. covers less than 2% of the Earth’s surface and a few spot measurements from its coasts are hardly representative of the planet.
            By the way, I don’t “swallow uncritically” anything; I do my own research, apply critical thinking, and reach my own conclusions.

          • mpainter says:

            West coast gauges, with one or two exceptions, show a flat sl trend for the past 25-30 years.Yes, I see how readily you dismiss SL measurements from stable coasts, and how you prefer to believe altimetry data. Can you explain how sea level rises everywhere but on stable coasts?

          • Slipstick says:

            “West coast gauges, with one or two exceptions, show a flat sl trend for the past 25-30 years.Yes, I see how readily you dismiss SL measurements from stable coasts, and how you prefer to believe altimetry data. Can you explain how sea level rises everywhere but on stable coasts?”

            I don’t dismiss the coastal gauges, I simply cannot give them more weight than the altimetry, float, and gravitational data, which are in agreement, consistent with the loss of global glacial ice, and cover nearly the entire ocean surface, when the station data to which you refer represents something on the order of 1/100000th the same area. Also, since, as you said yourself, the coasts are subject to an array of isostatic and eustatic effects, I have difficulty calling them “stable”. I looked at the data from more than 20 U.S West Coast stations and some were level, some in decline, but most were increasing. On average, there is a clear increase.

          • mpainter says:

            I do not see where Argo floats provide SL data although I have searched. I am very skeptical that a free-floating device such as Argo provides sea level data. Can you cite any source which verifies such capacity in the Argo floats?
            Concerning altimetry, according to NASA the Jason altimetry satellites are accurate to within 33 mm. So far, I have seen no explanation of how an instrument with such an accuracy can reliably yield such SL rise figures as one sees: variously given at 1.9 mm or 2.6 mm or 3.5 mm annually, these figures and others all attributed to altimetry measurements. I am skeptical. I am confident in the reliability of the NOAA Mean Sea Level Trend charts but not the altimetry data.
            Since I am a geologist, I am confident in my ability to determine which coast is subject to isostatic adjustments, or sediment loading subsidence, or ground water withdrawal subsidence, or what coast is stable. In the case of the Gulf coast (west of Florida) there is only subsidence, but mostly so slight that it is undetectable (with a few exceptions, such as Galveston Bay or Grande Isle). So the Gulf coast can be considered as stable. The west coast is subject to tectonic forces but the Mean SL trends are surprisingly flat, with only a few places showing a falling SL (uplift) such as Neah Bay, Wa.or a rising SL (tectonic subsidence). Interestingly, ‘Frisco Bay shows a flat trend, but the San Andreas is a strike-slip fault, after all. Look again at the west coast Mean SL Trends (there are about 30 of them) and ignore the 100 year trend lines, but focusing on the last 20-30 years. Also Vancouver, BC, where the NOAA operates a tidal gauge (this trend is the flattest of all).
            You say that you do your own research. That is good. By searching for the truth (how elusive it is!) one obtains a “nose” for what is reliable and what seems not quite so sure.
            By the way, you still have not explained how SL rises everywhere but on stable coasts.

          • Slipstick says:

            I read the McLean paper and, while the correlation is interesting, I do not find it convincing, yet. Correlation without sufficient corroboration is not indicative of causation. The author himself refers to his hypothesis as “tentative”.

          • Slipstick says:

            Here’s a reference: http://sealevel.colorado.edu/content/closing-sea-level-rise-budget-altimetry-argo-and-grace

            As a geologist, I would have expected that you knew that a instrument’s uncertainty can be compensated for by repeated measurements and comparison with other instruments.

            “By the way, you still have not explained how SL rises everywhere but on stable coasts.” As I have said a couple of times now, I don’t see that in the data. You seem to be demonstrating a bit of confirmation bias.

            Here’s a question for you, if 90% of the world’s glaciers are receding, where is the water going?

          • Slipstick says:

            You see the Sabine Pass data as level for the last several decades??!! The “eyeball” 10 yr. average around 1990 is about -0.05 m and for the last 10 years its about +0.075; that’s a 125 mm difference. I wouldn’t call that flat.

          • Slipstick says:

            It just occurred to me that you might be looking at the interannual variations rather than the mean sea level trends. In those charts the sea level trend has been removed.

      • Slipstick says:

        The use of the word “farce” in describing the current consensus of climate science sounds a bit emotional, rather than logical. Is it possible that climate sensitivities expressed in the current models are incorrect or that the contribution of GHG’s to global warming over the last century, which is indisputable by the way, are less than currently understood? Certainly, but I have applied my own skepticism to the science that I have followed for more than 30 years and find the consensus hypotheses, evidence, and conclusions reasonable and compelling and have found no alternative models which are more so.

        As to rising MSL, given the continued recession of more than 90% of the world’s glaciers, it follows, don’t you think?

  16. Slipstick says:

    My apologies; if you are truly a skeptic, I misinterpreted your use of the word. AGW deniers often characterize themselves as skeptics, while they are, in fact, only skeptical of positions that differ from their own.

  17. mpainter says:

    I agree that the data at Sabine Pass show a SL rise since the year 1990.
    I stand on my statement ” the last several decades show a flat trend”, meaning twenty years or since ’95.
    These west coast gauges I reviewed today and all of these show a flat trend since circa 1983:
    Vancouver, Seattle, Friday Harbor, WA, Cherry Point WA, Astoria, OR, San Francisco, Monterey, San Diego. About half of these in fact show a present SL below thirty or so years ago.

    Melting ice? What counts is net. How much ice is added to Greenland annually. No figures on that, so no conclusions about SL.
    At an average of 12 cm precipitation annually (1.7 million square km) balances a loss of 200 km•3 of ice.

    Argo does not provide SL data. Check with the NOAA and they will confirm this. You need to read your reference: it uses temperature and salinity data from Argo to theoretically construct a steric component of a theoretical SL rise.

    So what does altimetry say about sea level?
    Your cite on Argo says a SL rise of 1.5 +/- 1.0 mm annually. Other altimetry studies give other values. Your 33 mm margin of error is not so easily dealt with, it seems. Tidal gauge data from stable coasts tell us we have no threat from rising SL.

    And the IPCC latest report has a chapter on AGW effects on weather. Conclusion: no increase in severe or catastrophic weather events because of AGW. Go read it. And leave off the alarms; you will look less foolish.

  18. Slipstick says:

    Excuse me, when I looked at the Sabine Pass data I was not aware that “several” meant two or less.

    “1983 or so” (during a strong El Nino when Pacific sea level is at a local maximum) makes everything clear. Perhaps choosing an extreme in the dataset and then drawing a straight line to the present is valid as a trend analysis technique in geology, but it’s not in any science with which I have more familiarity. No wonder you have been drawing the conclusions you have. The same technique is used to claim that there has been no warming of the climate since 1997.

    As for ice loss, you might want to start with the Helm Humbert Miller paper from 2014.

    I was aware that the Argo data was used to produce a steric SL value; is it your contention that the method is not valid? You failed to mention that the “other values” reported from altimetry are all more positive than the Argo values and ignored the gravitational data entirely.

    I suspect the residents of the Netherlands, Venice, Kiribati, the Maldives, and elsewhere might disagree with your SL threat assessment.

    I have read large portions of the IPCC AR4 and AR5 reports and I do not recall seeing the conclusion you present in the reports, although I have seen such an interpretation presented using edited and out of context snippets appearing on the AGW “denier” sites. If you can point me to such a statement in the reports, I would be most interested.

    If you you have not read the IPCC reports, start with the Synthesis Report or the report from Working Group II; the summaries for policy makers should be sufficient. http://www.ipcc.ch

  19. mpainter says:

    Thanks for your reply.
    Concerning the west coast mean SL trends, you seem to agree that the trends are flat, respecting those which I listed. I note your complaint that the trends start too high and end too low, for which perceived fault you seem to blame me.

    Concerning ice, for me it is a question of ice gain and whether reliable data on that is available. I doubt it, since the interior of Greenland and Antarctica are hardly monitored.

    I suggest that you review the contents of AR 5 to see which chapter deals with weather events. Sorry, I cannot cite the excerpts which Ive seen.There are other sources which confirm the same. Our host is a meteorologist and has addressed this issue in the past, so you should consult the archives here. Weather alarms are baseless and not creditable.

    You need to read up on the Maldives. The new government there has abandoned the SL alarms because they wish to attract development investors. No more threat of flooding…zip, gone. Disappeared as fast as it came. Venice? It’s built on a delta (Po) and also Italy bobs up and down like a cork, tectonically. The Netherlands? Another delta (sediment loading). Half the country is below SL, so it seems they know how to deal with such problems. Have you not heard of the Watcher, the Dreamer, and the Sleeper?so, yes, there may be local problems with subsidence but these are not attributable to a general SL rise nor AGW. These examples do serve well as the basis for alarmism, I’ll admit.
    Concerning Argo, it is clear that these yield data on temperature, salinity, current and pressure but none on SL. Are trying to make the case that Argo provides SL data?
    As I have stated, I regard the SL trend of a stable coast as the most reliable data on SL. Your reference uses a potpourri of data to construct a theoretical rate of rise. Interesting that their range is from .5 to 2.5 mm/annum, which is a variation of 500% from low end to high. I’ll stick with tidal gauges, thank you.

    • mpainter says:

      Also, thanks for not using the word “denier” with respect to me. This word offends. I regard myself as a skeptic, not without some measure of pride.
      Also, I would be glad to have your explanation of how SL rises everywhere but not at stable coasts.

  20. Slipstick says:

    Since you have chosen to misrepresent my position, this will be my last communication to you.

    No, I do not agree with your flawed methodologies and imaginings regarding sea level measurements, coastal and global. Global and net CONUS coastal sea level rise is unequivocal. If sea temperatures are rising, and they are, it is physically impossible for the mean sea level to remain unchanged. This rise in sea level from temperature is in addition to that from the NET ice loss from Greenland and Antarctica, which is also unequivocal. You simply ignore or distort any data which confirms these facts.

    As to the Maldives, I would ask that you corroborate your statement regarding their change in governmental policies on climate change and sea level rise, but I strongly doubt that is possible, since I can find only statements from the government to the contrary of what you offered.

    Since it is extremely unlikely that you would actually read the IPCC reports, as they contradict the beliefs you hold about climate change and you have, instead, offered a fabrication (your own or others, I do not know) as to its contents, allow me to quote from the Summary for Policymakers of the AR5 Synthesis Report.

    “Changes in many extreme weather and climate events have been observed since about 1950. Some of these changes have been linked to human influences, including a decrease in cold temperature extremes, an increase in warm temperature extremes, an INCREASE IN EXTREME HIGH SEA LEVELS (my emphasis) and an increase in the number of heavy precipitation events in a number of regions.”

    Be well.

    • mpainter says:

      Thanks for your good wishes. I note that you never offered any explanation as to why sea level rises everywhere except at stable coasts (“INCREASE IN EXTREME HIGH SEA LEVELS” says your IPCC summary for policymakers author). Perhaps you could think of none. Best wishes.

    • mpainter says:

      I now have time for a response to your last. I think it would be helpful if you had explained how I misrepresented your position. That would give me a chance to amend or clarify.

      You say “imaginings regarding regarding sea level measurements, both coastal and global”. I referrred you NOAA data showing MSL trends that you could view yourself.How is that “imaginings”?

      Regarding the Maldives, the government changed there two or three years ago, and that is a matter of historical record. Strange that you could not find your own way to that fact. I had no trouble in finding this confirmed in a seach on the web. In a coup d’etat, which included riots and “resignations under duress” the new government ousted the old because they wanted more development there and the former Head of the government was viewed as frightening off potential investment because of his policy of exaggerated climate alarmism and bleating over sea level threats. His policy, of course, was to snare aid from the international community, the UN, aid programs, etc., etc. This failed. The new administration has already showcased plans for development;these include a golf course at 2 meters above MSL.You can bet they no longer toot the alarmist horn in the Maldives. There is a lesson there for those who rely on alarmism in politics.

      Concerning ice melt.I am sketical about the accuracy of gravitational measurements used to determine changes in ice volumes and wish to have data on precipitation on the ice caps to get a idea of ice accumulation rates and make my own determination of net ice loss. For this you condemn me, saying that “You simply ignore or distort data which confirms these facts”. You obviously are not comfortable with an independent investigation of the various issues.

      You should not sling around the word “fabrication” so readily.


Leave a Reply