Sunday, March 9, 2014

NASA has-beens seek "an orderly market-driven transition from fossil fuels to alternatives"

Sou | 1:23 PM Go to the first of 3 comments. Add a comment

A small bunch NASA has-beens who call themselves "the right climate stuff" want us to "keep on burning" till we're toast.  Well, not quite, as it turns out.  Read on...

Burning all the carbon dioxide!

Here is some of what they say, according to Anthony Watts at WUWT (archived here) who copied and pasted it from James Delingpole, interpreter of interpretations from the denialati:
Even if we burn all the world’s recoverable fossil fuels it will still only result in a temperature rise of less than 1.2 per cent.

Given that deniers like to work in kelvin, I expect they are arguing that global surface temperatures will rise by  3.5K or 3.5 degrees Celsius.  On the other hand, they might be working with the Celsius scale and arguing surface temperatures will rise by 0.18 degrees, which would be odd, given that the temperature is now 0.8 degrees higher than it was a century or so ago.

The wrong interpretation - again, and again

James Delingpole, interpreter of interpretations, gave the wrong interpretation, further down he wrote:
Using calculations by George Stegemeier of the National Academy of Engineering, they estimated the total quantity of recoverable oil, gas and coal on the planet. They then used 163 years of real world temperature data to calculate Transient Climate Sensitivity (ie how much the world will warm as a result of the burning of all the carbon dioxide in the fossil fuel). The figure they came up with 1.2 degrees C which is considerably lower than the wilder claims of the IPCC, whose reports have suggested it could be as high as 4 degrees C or more.

So, is it 1.2% or 1.2 degrees?  And what's that about "burning ... carbon dioxide in the fossil fuel"?  In any case, when you read what the NASA hasbeens write, it's not 1.2 degrees C all up.  What they are arguing is that there will be an additional 1.2 degrees Celsius - which is a rise of 2 degrees Celsius overall.  And that's just in the short term.

Wrong again!

The NASA has-beens are headed by a chap named Harold Doiron.  According to Anthony / James:
Doiron was one of 40 ex NASA employees – including seven astronauts – who wrote in April 2012 to NASA administrator Charles Bolden protesting about the organization’s promotion of climate change alarmism, notably via its resident environmental activist James Hansen.

James Delingpole and Anthony Watts can't even get that right - the April 2012 letter was signed by 49 people, only three of whom didn't list themselves as being "ex-NASA" employees, making it 46 not 40 ex NASA employees.  And the list contained signatories from eight astronauts, not seven.

The fact that they probably tried but couldn't make 50 signatories - out of all the tens of thousands of ex-NASA employees, says a lot.  It wouldn't come close to the 8% mark, which is roughly the proportion of "dismissives" in the general population.  Heck, it's only 0.275% of the current NASA workforce!

Models predicted 2160 kelvin in 35 years time? I don't think so...

Moving away from James' wrong interpretations, here is some of what the NASA has-beens themselves said. In their top twenty list, these NASA has-beens searching for a new mission go on about CO2 is plant food and other denier memes.  At one point they said:
After a 35 year simulation the models over-predicted actual measured temperatures by factors of 200% to 750%. 

Over-predicted actual measured temperatures by a factor of 750%?  Hmmm.  Again, using the scale preferred by deniers, this would mean that the models predicted a temperature for earth of 2160 kelvin in 35 years.  I don't think so.

How about using the Celsius scale - a prediction of around 112 degrees Celsius in 35 years? - again, I don't think so.

Perhaps they meant to write "actual measured temperature anomaly" but they didn't specify a baseline.  Let's say instead of predicting a one degree rise, they predicted a 7.5 degree rise in 35 years time?  Again, I don't think so.

Maybe they were just talking about the rise over 35 years.  So, say, a 2.25 degrees rise over 35 years instead of 0.3 degrees? Or 3 degrees instead of 0.4 degrees? Again, I don't think so.

In any case, how do these NASA ex-whatevers know that the models have over-predicted anything?  35 years from the report is still around 34 years from now.

An orderly market-driven transition from fossil fuels

The NASA has-beens are promoting "an orderly market-driven transition from fossil fuels" - whatever they mean by that, writing:
  1. A market-driven transition from fossil fuels to alternative fuels must begin by 2055 just to meet energy demand as dwindling reserves of economically recoverable fossil fuels drive up their costs. (Feb 2014)
  2. Assuming an orderly market driven transition from fossil fuels to alternatives that do not emit CO2, atmospheric CO2 will remain below 600 ppm. (Feb 2014)
  3. The maximum CO2 level of 600 ppm is expected to occur after 2100, probably about 2130, and will begin to decline thereafter. (Feb 2014)

But they seem to be happy enough for more than double CO2, which is extremely dangerous.  These ex NASA has-beens don't think so.  They reckon that the transient climate sensitivity is 1.6 degrees, which is in the ballpark of the IPCC estimate. The IPCC AR5 WG1 report states:
With high confidence the transient climate response (TCR) is positive, likely in the range 1°C to 2.5ÂșC and extremely unlikely greater than 3°C, based on observed climate change and climate models (see TFE.6 for further details).

They go on to talk about transient climate response and argue that we shouldn't worry about anything after that.  Let their children's children put up with our legacy and like it or not survive it (or both).

From the WUWT comments

As usual, some of the WUWT crowd didn't bother reading the article, they just used it as an opportunity to write crass comments.  The ones who did were not all that happy with the NASA has-beens.

Fabi says:
March 8, 2014 at 3:49 pm
Glad to see their response, although I hate to see them adopt the language of the cAGW crowd, especially terms such as the Social Cost of Carbon.

Damian is a bit upset that the ex-NASA mob didn't provide any facts or accompanying data (did I get that right?) and says:
March 8, 2014 at 3:52 pm
WOW. Reality + common sense. These guys should expect the vitriol and personal attacks to begin any minute now. And as always it will happen without any facts or accompanying data.

Aphan says:
March 8, 2014 at 3:57 pm
They are using the EPA and DOE’s terminology.

Speed, like me, doesn't know what they are basing their percentages on and says:
March 8, 2014 at 4:00 pm
… a temperature rise of less than 1.2 per cent.
What’s that in degrees?

NZ Willy can't have ever seen a scientific paper because he says:
March 8, 2014 at 4:03 pm
I like this very much, but can they, or will they, submit to a peer journal?

They just did - it's called WUWT!

garymount noticed the bit about burning carbon dioxide and says:
March 8, 2014 at 4:13 pm
The article mistakenly says the burning of carbon dioxide.

That's what you get when you rely on an interpreter of interpretations for your "science".

garymount and I got the same answer to the 1.2% and says:
March 8, 2014 at 4:31 pm
1.2 percent would be about 3.5 C (or K). Remember, temperatures start at 0K not 0C, or 0F.


  1. "A market-driven transition from fossil fuels to alternative fuels must begin by 2055 just to meet energy demand as dwindling reserves of economically recoverable fossil fuels drive up their costs."
    If it doesn't begin then presumably energy demands will not be met. Which is not impossible.

    "Assuming an orderly market driven transition from fossil fuels to alternatives ..."
    That's one hell of an assumption. Do they think someone's going to make sure it happens, somebody like the gumment? Surely not.

    I'll not stake my future on these guys.

  2. Skimming through the 2014 report by these folks, I wonder whether the over-estimation is referring to Christy's comparison of the mid-troposphere tropical "hot spot" in models versus observations. (Or perhaps Patrick Michael's misrepresentation of Hansen's 1988 projections?)

    I found this online debate between Christy, Carl Mears and Steven Sherwood very enlightening


  3. I read the report, and found a few glaring errors.

    First of all, they referenced quite a few reports from CATO, and included the 'warming is good' meme. The report was very political, advocating a 'do nothing' policy.

    But what about the science. Well their estimate of TCR, although rather low, was still within the IPCC range. Their mistake was only to use data from 1850. There have been a number of studies done, many of which have used data stretching back millions of years, and the consensus is a TCR of about 2C.

    But it was their assumptions of 'burning all the fossil fuels' to give a CO2 value of 600ppm and a temp rise of 1.2C which is way off. This was then picked up by Delingpole.

    There are a number of estimates of the amount of CO2 that would be produced from burning all the fossil fuel reserves ranging from about 3,000 to 5,000 GtC to as high as 10,000 GtC if unconventional sources are included.

    So for about 1,100 GtC of carbon that have already been released, a rise of about 1C has occurred, so burning all the fossil fuels would raise temps by about another 3-5C, and with feedbacks from albedo and water vapour, it would be even higher. Just burning all the conventional oil would raise temps by about 1C, all the conventional gas by another 1C, and all the coal by another 2-3C, not including feedbacks and unconventional sources. It would take about 60 years to burn the oil, about the same for the gas, and about 110 for the coal at current rates of use. Also once you hit about 6C, there is a very high risk of the methane hydrates being released which would raise temps to a planet killing 10C, just like what happened and the end of the Permian or the PETM. The difference being that these previous hyperthermals took place over thousands of years, not hundreds. (Also, my analysis is conservative and back of the envelope, just to show how wrong their analysis is)

    Also for an analysis by actual climate scientists, and not by a couple of people who's qualifications are that they took a taxi ride to the moon, check this.



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