Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Black carbon in the Arctic as viewed by WUWT - plus more about soot and methane

Sou | 3:28 PM Go to the first of 7 comments. Add a comment

Anthony Watts posted an article about a new paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research Atmosphere.

Anthony had a headline: In the Arctic, nearby soot may be a larger forcing than CO2. However there was nothing in his article to support his headline so one can only conclude that he made it up out of thin air in keeping with his latest disinformation push.

Sand, M., T. K. Berntsen, Ø. Seland, and J. E. Kristjánsson (2013), Arctic surface temperature change to emissions of black carbon within Arctic or midlatitudes, J. Geophys. Res. Atmos., 118, doi:10.1002/jgrd.50613.

It depends on from where the black carbon comes

The researchers set out to quantify the impact of black carbon emissions from different sources - comparing that emanating from within the Arctic with that coming from the midlatitudes. They found that if the black carbon was emitted from within the Arctic, it had "an almost five times larger Arctic surface temperature response (per unit of emitted mass) compared to emissions at midlatitudes".  The AGU report states (my bold italics):
Black carbon emitted within the Arctic is more likely to stay at low altitudes and thus to be deposited on the snow and ice there, whereas black carbon transported into the Arctic from mid-latitudes is more likely to remain at higher altitudes. Because of this, the Arctic surface temperature is almost 5 times more sensitive to black carbon emitted from within the Arctic than to emissions from mid-latitudes, the authors find.

How many WUWT readers understood what was written?

The first thing that struck me in the comments was that I don't think either Anthony or his readers understood the study or what it found.  Going by the headline, Anthony was just aiming for more disinformation and didn't bother to read what he copied and pasted.  His readers were no better. So far, I only counted three responses (out of 26) that demonstrates that any reader has understood the research or the findings.

The second thing that struck me in the comments, was the inability of some people to hold two complementary ideas in their brain at the same time.  It is as if there is only room for one.  This disability is interesting in the context of Bob Altemeyer's The Authoritarians.  (See here for a summary in the context of climate science denial).  Altemayer talks of the RWA's as being recognised for their ability to hold two conflicting ideas in their brain at the same time.  For example, they can swear black and blue that earth is warming because of the sun and in the next breath they'll swear black and blue that the earth isn't warming and then say that it's cooling and then say it's warming but it's caused by ENSO or the PDO.

Maybe the head of the RWA is so full of conflicting notions that it has no room for complementary notions.

Here is an example from Bob who says (extract):
August 13, 2013 at 6:37 pm CO2 doesn’t seem to be working all that well as the cause, so we need to switch to carbon, I suppose....

Here are more comments from the WUWT crowd, but this time to demonstrate how WUWT readers don't bother to read or understand before jumping in feet first:

Owen in GA hasn't bothered to read the WUWT article and hasn't understood what the research was about.  He seems to think it was just to see if black carbon caused melting:
August 13, 2013 at 6:21 pm  I don’t see why they didn’t expect to see this. Ice has an almost perfect reflection surface, put something that is almost a perfect black body on top of it and absorbed energy changes as far as is possible. I would have to run a series of experiments to put actual numbers on it, but the common sense factor of this seems evident. Occasionally the universe throws a curve ball at ya, but usually only on really large or really small scales.
For starters - Owen in GA hasn't bothered to read what the researchers were studying.  Next he's incorrect saying "ice having an almost perfect reflective surface".  Ice does have high albedo compared to, say, the open ocean.  But it's not perfect and is less than snow.  Owen in GA immediately doubles up on his lack of understanding by telling the researchers how they should have done their research.  It would help a bit if he learnt that "alot" is two words not one (yeah, I'm being petty now):
August 13, 2013 at 6:29 pm  The problem here though is they do all their “experiments” in a computer rather than in the universe. Would have to see the methodology to see if they used any actual observations such as solar intensity, shine angle, carbon absorption rate/conversion of effective solar to temperature and length of day. Such a simple model could tell you alot about what effect black carbon “might” have, but until you instrument the heck out of a patch with alot of black carbon and a control patch with little to no black carbon and measure the actual on the ground effect you have not done a real experiment.

Owen in GA throws in the towel and says:
August 13, 2013 at 6:48 pm  I don’t know why this article bugs me so much. I read them all, but only comment occasionally when something either grabs my funny bone or sticks in the craw.

Maybe it's because Owen in GA didn't bother to digest the article and the research findings.

Wyguy declares himself as one of the 8% Dismissives and says:
August 13, 2013 at 7:02 pm “Black carbon ….. is one of the major causes of global warming, after carbon dioxide emissions.” When I read that, I quit reading. The author(s) lost all credibility in my eyes.

Impact of cutting soot and methane - not as much benefit as previously thought

There are a couple of more interesting comments, though.  This time about a PNNL study on the impact of cutting soot and methane emissions, which has recently been published in PNAS and is discussed here in Scientific American.  You can read the press release from PNLL here.  An excerpt:
Cutting the amount of short-lived, climate-warming emissions such as soot and methane in our skies won't limit global warming as much as previous studies have suggested, a new analysis shows. The study also found a comprehensive climate policy (including methane) would produce more climate benefits by 2050 than if soot and methane were reduced alone.
Steven J. Smith1 and Andrew Mizrahi (2013) Near-term climate mitigation by short-lived forcers, PNAS,  doi: 10.1073/pnas.1308470110


  1. The post would be better readable if you would explain the acronym RWA, so that not everyone if forces to download the pdf.

    1. Sorry Victor. RWA = Right Wing Authoritarian. However, you don't have to download the pdf. In the above, I put a link to the relevant section of the blog article I wrote some time ago, which describes the RWA's and 8% Dismissives. I'll try to make that clearer in future.

      I thought that a link to my earlier article was a good alternative to both downloading Altemeyers' booklet and re-defining it every time I referred to it. Also, I didn't want to make the article overly long because I tend to be longwinded enough as it is:) Anyway, here are their attributes to save everyone having to click through:

      Right Wing Authoritarians: Together with The Doubtful, the small group of Dismissives exhibit at least some characteristics in common with Bob Altemeyer's Right Wing Authoritarians. (The "Doubtful" and "Dismissives" refer to the Yale Group "Six Americas" survey report. The Doubtful represent 13% of respondents and the Dismissives 8% of respondents).

      - Illogical thinking

      - Highly compartmentalised minds

      - Double standards

      - Hypocrisy

      - Blindness to themselves

      - A profound ethnocentrism

      - Dogmatism: The Authoritarians last ditch defense.

      Dismissives (8%) are "sure" global warming is not happening despite all the evidence that it is happening. Doubtfuls (13%) think it might be happening but think "it's natural", again despite all the evidence to the contrary. This demonstrates illogical thinking as well as dogmatism (no amount of evidence will persuade them otherwise).

      The Dismissives (8%) are the least informed of the lot and prone to conspiracy ideation (global warming is a hoax). Only 10% of this 8% acknowledge the fact that "most scientists think global warming is happening". In fact 17% of the 8% even say they think "most scientists think global warming is not happening". This group has "highly compartmentalised minds" and "profound ethnocentrism" - only mixing with those who share their distorted view of the world.

    2. I've added another link higher up - because I realise the link was just on the 8% Dismissives comment further down.

      The top bit is probably what you were referring to.

    3. I would probably simply have substituted "Altemayer talks of the RWA's ...", with "Altemayer talks of the authoritarians ...".

      A little less precise, but understandable to anyone. I love your blog, but I have not read and memorized every post you wrote.

      Still an interesting book by Altemayer. Just scanning it, I wonder how it is possible to have both libertarians and authoritarians in one party.

    4. Lol :)

      Yeah - I do sometimes (often) sacrifice precision for volume:D

      The terminology Altemeyer uses is a tad confusing. Towards the end you'll find that he distinguishes between "High Value Right Wing Authoritarians" (ie the suckers or the Authoritarian followers) and the Authoritarian Leaders (dirt-bags, scum-buckets - using his terminology).

      I see the more extreme of the US-style Libertarians fitting very well into the category of high value RWA's. They despise (and are often unreasonably fearful of) legitimate authority but are very willing to follow anyone who can suck them in by legitimately, or probably more often pretending to espouse what they value - eg gun ownership, the law but only as long as it applies to everyone but the RWAs, "free speech" to mouth whatever bigoted views they hold at whatever cost etc etc. From what I've read they are more likely than most to be conspiracy theorists too. (The "what I've read" includes comments from people who declare themselves as Libertarians.)

      Don't want to over-generalise though. I'd expect Libertarians would include a spectrum of people, not just the extremists. Eg those who just want to keep a rein on the size of government, which doesn't mean they fear authority.

    5. I wonder how many people calling themselves libertarians are actually libertarians.

      They mainly talk about lower taxes, sometimes about their love for guns.

      You do not hear them talking as much about about stopping government power abuse, torture, eavesdropping etc., nor about smaller policy and military. One would expect a real libertarian to find the latter just as important.

    6. Victor:
      There are many different libertarians.

      I especially like the term "paleolibertarians" :-)



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