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Anticipating the Climate Black Swan

Michael Ferrari's picture
VP Technology WTI

Michael Ferrari is the Vice President of Applied Technology and Commodity Research at Weather Trends International. He directs the research and product development efforts in support of the...

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While the idea has been the central thesis of many of Nassim Taleb's writings over the last several years, the publication of TheBlackSwan1 could not be more timely. Further, the more we look around us, the more we see Black Swans in today's global commercial and financial complex, as well as in the world at large. Many readers in the commodities sector are no doubt familiar with Taleb's popularization of Black Swans. For those who are not, the premise goes back to the formerly accepted Euro-centric idea that all swans are white. That is until the Europeans first traveled to Australia and discovered this was not the case. Contemporary economics, short-term thinking, and the need to quantify and compartmentalize our ideas in order to make sense of them, all serve to remove the 'gray area' from our sense of reasoning; unfortunately, the gray area is the source material from where the highest potential for discovery lies. Saying all swans are white was correct, until the first documentation of a black-colored species. Previous models become useless, and the world view changes in an instant. Extending this to other areas of contemporary markets, most of the major financial risks were assumed to be properly hedged, until the recent collapse of the banking system. Weather has these Black Swans too. It follows that blindly assuming continued warming climate trends will lead to the observation of slightly warmer temperatures year over year may work for a while, until a cold snap like the one that hit the eastern US at the beginning of last winter produces one of the coldest starts to winter in many years. This is the example that will be discussed in this brief paper.

Observations show that the globally averaged surface air temperature has increased +0.6*C +/-0.2*C, over the last 100 years2. This is documented through a careful analysis of the surface temperature recordings obtained from tens of thousands of locations around the world. But what does a globally averaged increase in surface temperature really mean? As it turns out, not very much. An increasing linear trend is, just that: a line drawn through a series of data points. Most of the data points will fall somewhere in the vicinity of the trend line. Some, those within one standard deviation, will be slightly above the trend line, while others will be slightly below. These cases will still be considered by most to be part of the normal distribution. Other data points, fewer in number, will be found further above and below the trend line; these, depending on location and time of year that the observation took place, may raise some eyebrows, but will still be included in them. Finally, we get to what statisticians love to describe as the outliers; those data points that are well outside of the distribution, and therefore conveniently 'ignored'.

With climatological analysis, there will always be extreme cases that will be recorded and will appear well outside of the majority of the histogram. Ignoring these data points, however, is the absolute last thing a careful observational scientist should do. The most interesting answers are usually found in the tails. When we are trying to understand the physical mechanisms that lead to these values, it is plain foolishness to smooth the data, minimizing peaks and troughs, and in the process diminishing the importance of these outliers; doing this masks the opportunity to learn something new about climate behavior.

A few examples follow. The 1993 floods in the Midwest were a once in a lifetime weather event; that is until the spring of 2008. Ice cover for the Northern Hemisphere has been steadily decreasing3, which has been more pronounced since the early 1990s; that is until the winter of 2007/08 saw the largest build in ice cover over the last 30 years.

Here is another similar example with snow cover. The areal extent of Northern Hemisphere snow cover has been reduced since around 20014, but every once in a while, nature evens things out and shows a build, even in the midst of a broader warming trend.

If we assume trend line climatology, we might get away with being right by extending a line via regression for a few consecutive years, or even decades. But when the pattern changes for reasons that are unexpected, we are not usually prepared to react. This can be viewed as a risk, but a proper and proactive risk management strategy may be able to use these events as opportunities.

Regardless of the causes of climate change, one factor is not subject for debate: year over year global climatic variability is getting more unpredictable and more extreme. Speculating on these extremes (via directly in weather futures, or indirectly in the energy and agricultural futures space) may be dangerous, but disregarding them as unlikely events can lead to financial disaster.

A simple yet very clear example can be described by arecent weather event that influenced the US energy market, and this scenario should be relevant to many readers. The figure below displays November Heating Degree Day (HDD) values for New York City, between 1992 and 2007. HDDs are a measure of heating energy demand, and are calculated as a deviation of the average temperature below 65*F. For example, if the average daily temperature on November 1st was 60*F, the HDDs for that day would be five. If the average daily temperature on November 2nd was 55*F, then the HDDs for that day would be 10, and the cumulative November HDDs would be 15. Therefore, the lower the average temperature, the higher the HDD value (cooling degree days, or CDDs, work in a similar fashion with respect to temperatures above 65*F).

Now even though the temperature trend for New York since the early 1990s has been warmer, a closer look reveals a cyclical heating demand pattern. While it can not be modeled precisely, every few years, a cold November in the east bucks the trend of early warm winters, and this leads to spikes in HDD (as well as energy futures) which are much higher than what was seen during the winter transition of the previous year (eg., 1992, 1995, 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2007).

Not anticipating these spikes can blindside the energy market. Many energy analysts and risk managers do one of two things when setting upcoming seasonal energy demand estimates: (1)they look at the broader trend and extend their projections, or (2)they plan demand requirements off of last year's observations. Both approaches are dangerous, and can lead to losses when an 'unexpected' weather event materializes.

A demand manager who may have used either of these approaches entering into the 2007/08 winter would have been wrong, and depending on how well they were hedged (if at all), a look at the change in energy futures over the subsequent months highlights the magnitude of financial risk. As a quick analysis of the last 17 years demonstrates, these pattern changing events occur at somewhat regular intervals, and anticipating these changes can make the difference between staggering losses for buyers forced to purchase at spot market prices, and healthy gains resulting from early strategic pricing or long term weather hedging.

The figure below highlights this danger of following the trend from a futures perspective. We are certainly not advocating that the run in energy prices that we have seen over the last year was solely a result of weather, but it should be noted that crude oil and heating oil futures were approximately 30% higher at the end of last winter than they were before the 2007/08 heating season started. The early season demand in the central and eastern US was certainly a constructive factor in supporting these markets during and following the 07/08 heating season.


To summarize, regardless of the broader climate trends, nature has a way of correcting herself. The Earth is a complex system, demonstrating properties of balance, emergence, and resilience. Climate does change -- it always has and always will, so even though we may be in a warming period with lower trending winter HDDs, we should not be surprised when we witness a change in the pattern that does not neatly fit an analysis via linear regression. Empirically, these patterns should not be considered Black Swans. But as we all (should) know, the true efficient market is a myth, and subjectivity will always lead to inefficiencies that can be exploited by those who are looking for opportunities via nontraditional analysis.

References: 1 The Black Swan, by Nassim Taleb, 2007. 2 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 2007. 3 University of Illinois, Urbana - Champaign, Polar Research Group 4 Rutgers University Global Snow Lab 5 Ino.com

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Len Gould's picture
Len Gould on Jan 26, 2009
Jeff: "The CO2 isn't doing squat because there isn't nearly enough of it," -- Is simple proof that atmospheric water vapour is a) very powerful controller of temperature and b) a controlled variable based on other effects on atmospheric temperature such as CO2 and methane.
Ferdinand E. Banks's picture
Ferdinand E. Banks on Jan 26, 2009
Len, what are the capacity of those reactors, and any others that you know of constructed within that time frame?
Jim Beyer's picture
Jim Beyer on Jan 26, 2009
Fred,

I think they are 728 MWe apiece. And, is it just me, or is there something rather Canadian about those reactors? ;)

Apparently, the pair cost $4 Billion Canadian.

More info: Qinshan 5th Anniversary

Jim Beyer's picture
Jim Beyer on Jan 26, 2009
Jeff,

Both of your references (a cool desert, and winters in Germany) are not in any stretch a scientific sampling of a global effect. Time and again, the AGW skeptics accuse the IPCC of being unscientific and then mention a few locales with contrary effects as "proof" of their point.

If you are concerned about AGW being the 21st century version of Eugenics (now THERE'S a catchphrase for you -- and no charge!) then get some papers published in refereed journals. And don't give me any crap about editorial bias and a conspiracy of the grant writers. Beyond that tired excuse rests, in my opinion, a lack of a consistent, coherent, counter-argument and some just plain laziness.

Jeff Presley's picture
Jeff Presley on Jan 26, 2009
Len, those are SMALL nukes, but you make an interesting point. Perhaps the solution isn't a small number of large nukes but a large number of small nukes. Of course that introduces other issues like securing all those facilities...

H2O is NOT a controlled variable by ANY definition of the term. Its concentration in the atmosphere ranges from 0-4% and it is almost constantly changing. It doesn't give a rats rear end what the methane and CO2 around it are doing. Again, this is easily demonstrated in the lab, hence the reason the AGW "scientists" prefer to use mathematical models instead.

Jeff Presley's picture
Jeff Presley on Jan 26, 2009
Jim,

Are you being purposely obtuse or are you just ignorant? Or perhaps I should give you the benefit of the doubt and say you didn't read my post with your spectacles on? The reference to the desert was a thought experiment, hence your apparent difficulty in following along? At NO TIME did I talk about winters in Germany, I referenced a previous post wherein I gave the URL of A SCIENTIFIC REFEREED JOURNAL PUBLICATION, wherein two GERMAN scientists predicted global cooling and documented the reasons why. Apparently you didn't click on THAT link at the time, and if you're like Len and rarely if ever click on a link, I see no reason to repost it here.

I also gave the Easterbrook paper that had been partially published on a site that gave ready access to it, but since you're being a smart@ss and claiming you ONLY read refereed journals, I'll give you the complete list of REFEREED journal publications from Easterbrook's own website for your perusal. Of course those REFEREED journals require PAYMENT, so I know damn well you aren't going to follow up on them, you'll just make the same specious claims you made in your idiocy of a post and pretend you've accomplished something.

When you're ready to meet the issues head on and stop hiding behind legalities I might be interested in having a discussion with you, but I also know from experience that you'd far rather make the "discussion" go away, and pretend you "won". Anthropogenic Global Warming is going away scientifically, if not politically, because reality is refusing to follow the "predictions" being made. Even the sycophant press will stop sopping up the sky is falling stories as the reality of what is happening outside the windows trumps the surreality of what mocked up computer programs are saying. The new drum beat will be for "Climate Change" instead. But of course the climate ALWAYS changes, so that likewise belongs in the rubbish heap of discredited science.

Meantime because of political expedience, $trillions will be purloined from the public in the form of hidden taxes under the guise of "Climate Change", which will accomplish nothing but lining the pockets of politicians and corporations. The Climate will continue to change regardless.

Jim Beyer's picture
Jim Beyer on Jan 26, 2009
Jeff,

I apologize about not reading your posting more carefully. My mistake.

Prof. Easterbrook, like Prof. Sherwood Idso, are older researchers who have basically retired. Some of the papers on Easterbrook's site have few or no footnotes, and contain paragraphs like this:

"All of these problems will be exacerbated by the soaring human population. The current world population of about 6 ½ billion people is projected to increase by almost 50% during the next 30 years of global cooling (Figure 2). The problems associated with the global cooling would be bad enough at current population levels. Think what they will be with the added demands from an additional three billion people, especially if we have uselessly spent trillions of dollars needlessly trying to reduce atmospheric CO2, leaving insufficient funds to cope with the real problems."

This may all be true, but making policy pronouncements within a supposedly scientific paper is rather extraordinary.

This paper:

Damon_Laut_2004

clarifies how much of the alleged links between sun spots, etc. and climate has not been borne out by the data to date, and how poor data handling caused problems with the theories of such adherents.

A major change that AGW seems to be pushing is re-awakening the nuclear power industry. I hardly believe that was a hidden agenda of the leftist politicians.

Jeff Presley's picture
Jeff Presley on Jan 26, 2009
"making policy pronouncements within a supposedly scientific paper is rather extraordinary "

Jim, Are you KIDDING ME? Have you ever READ one of the IPCC papers? They do nothing BUT make policy pronouncements, as do Hansen and all the rest of the circus clowns. I also find it amusing you quote Damon Laut from 2004 while studiously IGNORING all the Climate Audit posts. AGW protagonists look for the SLIGHTEST flaw in a so-called denier's research, but REFUSE to even divulge sources to McIntyre when he calls them into question! He's CRUSHED them so many times it isn't even funny anymore and their only response is to refuse to deal with him or allow their data to be examined AT ALL! Even the so-called peer reviewed publications have refused to cooperate with McIntyre when he asks for background information AGAINST THEIR OWN PUBLISHED POLICIES! Mann used "filters" also, just to change the "interpretation" of the graphs, which is what Damon Laut want you to do, don't look at that raw data, look at our MASSAGED data.

There IS something very akin to a conspiracy here, by any and all definitions of the term, and it is aimed against the "denier" crowd. It is indeed a shame that the political environment is such that a professor must have tenure AND be close to retirement or emeritus status until he is allowed to stand up to the non-science that AGW has become. Unfortunate indeed. Furthermore analysis of the graphs on Damon's paper vs the ones Easterbrook uses show they aren't from the same sources, therefore even IF Damon/Laut are correct, it is irrelevant to Easterbrook's findings. As I said on this site 2 years ago on this same subject, I VASTLY prefer the work of geologists to climatologists because they have a far greater background and understanding of epochal events.

AGW=nuclear power promotion? Don't think so, maybe on THIS site, but the rest of the unwashed masses are just as stupid today as they were yesterday, and are just as fearful of nukes as they were before. Obama may or may not push for nuclear, but as a betting man I'll happily take odds that he won't. Wind, solar yes; nuclear no.

Jim Beyer's picture
Jim Beyer on Jan 26, 2009
Jeff,

As I've said to Ed Reid, I'm all for getting to the bottom of the AGW issue as well. And if there is a counter-argument to be made, by all means it must be made. But it involves getting papers published. That's the way science works at this point -- good or bad, that's the way it happens.

I had papers published, some peer reviewed, many not. One important paper (explaining why the Hydrogen Economy is problematic) I could not get past a peer review. Very frustrating. But not a conspiracy. Though sometimes it might SEEM that way.

Don Hirschberg's picture
Don Hirschberg on Jan 26, 2009
I get a little squeamish and annoyed about categorizing papers as to whether they were peer reviewed or otherwise blessed by high academic authority. Two examples should give one pause. Every one of my geology books absolutely ridiculed the idea of continental drift, sea floor spreading, and Alfred Wegener was held to be a complete buffoon by those deciding correct geology. Those in the continental drift camp could not get published and for a period and those espousing these ideas were denied post grad degrees. Wegener was not a geologist so he had no business talking about geology. Linus Pauling was not an MD so he had no business talking about vitamin C. Luis Alvarez was not a geologist so he had no business talking about the demise of the dinosaurs.

Seems to me the giants of geology have been amateurs, engineers, weathermen, or chemists. Not a bad lot.

Today Plate Tectonics is as fundamental to geology as Evolution is to Biology and Science in general and the enlightenment of the Alvarez’s (son and father) is basic science. Academia now seems to have conveniently forgotten they were never members of the club when they made their discoveries.

Edward Reid, Jr.'s picture
Edward Reid, Jr. on Jan 27, 2009
http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2009/20090126_climate.html

A little light reading for your edification and amusement.

Think about the implications of anthropogenic carbon emissions being "stopped". They are somewhat more stringent than the 99.95% reduction I have suggested would be necessary to halt the increase. I feel like such a piker!

Ed

Jim Beyer's picture
Jim Beyer on Jan 27, 2009
Don,

I appreciate your sentiments, but I submit you are cherry picking a few gems from a sea of nuts. For every Wegner, there are 10 EESTORs or 10 Hydronium advocates. (Note that it would be great if these proved viable, but like Ed, I am not holding my breath.)

It is probably proper that a new, radical, and correct idea is initially rejected, as the contrary would mean lots of other wrong stuff would get in without being properly vetted.

Jim Beyer's picture
Jim Beyer on Jan 27, 2009
Ed,

You missed the fine print on the NOAA article:

NOAA Article

(And you should learn to add links; if Jeff could teach me, anyone can learn it.)

Anyway, the fine print states "if CO2 is allowed to peak at 450-600 ppm".

Edward Reid, Jr.'s picture
Edward Reid, Jr. on Jan 27, 2009
Jim,

I didn't miss the "fine print". We will get to 450 ppmv, because most of "we" have no intention of stopping or even slowing emissions. It may take somewhat longer, though, if some of "we" reduce our emissions.

I missed Jeff's class on posting links. Most comment boards are set up to allow it to happen "automagically".

Ed

Jim Beyer's picture
Jim Beyer on Jan 27, 2009
Ed,

Yes, Energypulse is remiss in that area, as well as not allowing you to view posts before submitting them. Here's a guideline:

HTML Guide

The href is the one you'd most likely use, though I'd be curious how Len got the photos in.

Graham Cowan's picture
Graham Cowan on Jan 27, 2009
I had papers published, some peer reviewed, many not. One important paper (explaining why the Hydrogen Economy is problematic) I could not get past a peer review. Very frustrating. But not a conspiracy.

What could be more conspiratorial than anonymous reviewers? They're probably all in luxurious secret headquarters atop the North Tower.

I was able to get a few slams in against hydrogen -- mostly without naming it -- in my paper, and it still came out in a hydrogen-energy periodical.

--- G.R.L. Cowan (How fire can be domesticated)

Don Giegler's picture
Don Giegler on Jan 27, 2009
The folks who burned up Thorium Carbide/Uranium Carbide (5.5:1) fissile and Thorium Carbide/Uranium Carbide (18.5:1) fertile fuel particles in the Peach Bottom HTGR between 1967 and 1974 and in the Fort St. Vrain HTGR (4.25:1 fissile) between 1976 and 1990 have an interesting 2002 paper available at: http://gt-mhr.ga.com/gtmhr1_all.html

For those interested in more current energy production progress, Matt Migliore, editor of the trade magazine Flow Control offers "Corn-Based Ethanol Goes from Boom to Bust" in the January 2009 issue. Some of the references he mentions for peers to review are:

1. "An Ethanol Bailout", The Wall Street Journal, December 24, 2008.

2. Environmental Working Group, Farm Subsidy Database, farm.ewg.org/farm/progdetail.php?fips=00000&progcode=com.

3. "Hunger Facts", Bread for the World, www.bread.org/learn/hunger-basics/.

4. "Energy at the Crossroads", Vaclav Smil, Global Science Forum Conference, May 17-19, 2006.

5. "Biofuels make climate change worse, scientific study conclude", The Independent, February 8, 2008.

Don Giegler's picture
Don Giegler on Jan 27, 2009
http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epa/epat8p2.html is also current with an update of the very informative Table 8.2. All, of course, for peers to review.
Graham Cowan's picture
Graham Cowan on Jan 27, 2009
Len Gould says,
... the amount of peak reduction of northern hemisphere snow cover in the past 20 years is almost exactly equal to the amount of solar thermal collectors we should install in order to ... mitigate earth's loss of albedo ...

That would imply the Earth has gained albedo, and needs to have it mitigated back down. Near-zero albedo, near-zero whiteness, is a job requirement for solar thermal collectors.

How shall the car gain nuclear cachet?

Len Gould's picture
Len Gould on Jan 27, 2009
Hi Graham. I wasn't advocating using solar thermal collectors to reduce earth's albedo, just showing an interesting conparison of relative areas. Sorry for the confusion.

It looks like several could use help in posting links here. The way Graham Cowan showed me is as follows, replace the [ at front with a "caret" / "less than sign"

[A href="http://www.etc">document title

Jeff: H2O content in atmosphere is definitely a controlled variable, controlled by atmospheric temperature when all else is equal, and GHG's independently control atmospheric temperature... ergo...

Jim Beyer's picture
Jim Beyer on Jan 27, 2009
Fred & Len,

I was just thinking it's probably easier and more economic to build nuclear power plants in a country that can say to 1,200,000 of its own people: "Hey, we're building a dam here, move!".

That being said, the favorable numbers for the Qinshan plants probably indicate a lower bound in terms of cost that we can at least strive for.

Michael Pinca's picture
Michael Pinca on Jan 27, 2009
Some amusing comments here gentlemen. Last evening PBS televised the story of J. Robert Oppenheimer. RE: The Manhattan Project and Los Alamos. Truman kicked Oppenheimer out of his office, because Oppenheimer felt too much guilt. At the same time Oppenheimer fullfilled his duty as an American Scientist, he struggled with the slow, roast of those refusing to issue his security clearance, suspected a communist, by those not familiar with the exact sciences involving mathematics and physics.

All of you know, the exact sciences are those most manipulated and Steller and Straws were major manipulators, today we are where we are because of it. Then, two major allies, raced to build the most thermal nuclear weapons. Look back, all so silly, yet related to the economics of both governments. August of 1945 was not that long ago in Earth years. Fortunately, we realized, thank God, how not such a good idea the nuclear weapons race was, in time, and won the race to the Moon.

However, there is more manipulation than ever. Why did US stop building NSSS's? Many answers, of course, none of them, acceptable. I gave twenty years of my life a an exact science product. I can't help it, the exact sciences deliver good things IN ALL LANGUAGES. We are so well understood, yet roll around like marbles, when the "manipulation" tilts the table, one hundredth of a degree! plus or minus.

In the 70's before deregulation; FACT: investing in electric utility stock was the most stable, it always rose in value, but over time not fast enough for supporting wall sreet. Good investment, slow yield, but guranteed yield because it supported industrial development.

FACT: Detroit Edison, big coal/load shifting utility giant, for example, must have had the same view mentioned above about the Titanic, they have an unsinkable ship (coal fired, simulatneous online/off line capability, re: Monroe, MI) why be so concerned about how fast we can steer to nuclear? re: Fermi. Making their answer easier, Fermi I was boron vaulted. Fermi II, mothballed for two years, until I arrived 77-79. That was one heck of a puzzle with one GE P.O.

Black Swan or no Black Swan, I'm glad Mr Truman kicked Oppenheimer's arse out of his office. Because Mr Oppenheimer was showing signs of being mentally manipulated not with a water board either. In the end, he did experience peace, when the world realized, math exists globally. One can't imagine, the anxiety when the Einsten's survive their lives with catnaps only, you know like with one eye open, hoping the rest of the world doesn't wake up top abruptly.

Graham Cowan's picture
Graham Cowan on Jan 27, 2009
To advocate solar thermal collectors, on Earth, is to advocate reduction of the Earth's albedo.

You may not remember the good time. Few now live who do.

The very laws of nature were somehow different, in a way that is impossible to describe ... All of the heavies were light as a feather ... if one could describe it, I sometimes think that would bring it back. But it all ended the moment I screwed up my HTML on this forum. So take care.

How shall the car gain nuclear cachet?

Jeff Presley's picture
Jeff Presley on Jan 27, 2009
Len, you're spouting the company line, but that line has been debunked.

CO2, at 380 parts per MILLION is by NO MEANS in the driver's seat versus H2O vapor at concentrations HUNDREDS of times higher! If I post a dozen or so peer reviewed articles that refute your position, will you A) read them at all? or B) change your mind?

The conspiracy discussion at < a href="http://climatesci.org/2009/01/22/real-climate-gavin-schmidt-response-to-...">Climate Science (a REAL science site) versus Real Climate (a real politics site)

Finally I doubt a single AGW proponent will have a, pardon the expression, snowball's chance in hell of correctly answering even 50% of these questions, put together by Dr. Richard Keen of the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (ATOC) at the University of Colorado

Ed, here's a better explanation of how to do a link, I'll do it twice once substituting the "[" for the "<" character and once giving you a direct link. As you know much of the hype surrounding AGW is based on climate models, which I've always stated were flawed. Gavin Schmidt disagrees, because he has hung his hat and professional reputation on the validity of them, albeit with poor convergence to reality.

[a href="http://climatesci.org/2009/01/26/a-new-paper-from-model-based-parameteri...">Parameterization peer reviewed paper [/a> Parameterization peer reviewed paper

Len, as I stated before and as the paper above demonstrates, the models predict CO2 FORCING atmospheric temperature because they were PROGRAMMED TO DO SO! They do NOT follow physics, which is why you've run into problems at physorg. Atmospheric CO2 is NOT a catalyst to weather processes, but is a catalyst to photosynthesis, something necessary for ALL life on this planet.

Edward Reid, Jr.'s picture
Edward Reid, Jr. on Jan 28, 2009
Jeff,

Thanks.

Ed

Edward Reid, Jr.'s picture
Edward Reid, Jr. on Jan 28, 2009
Edward Reid, Jr.'s picture
Edward Reid, Jr. on Jan 28, 2009
Jeff,

What did I do wrong?

Ed

Len Gould's picture
Len Gould on Jan 28, 2009
Someone above was asking how to put a picture into these comments. As long as the picture already has a web address, it can be inserted with this line (change all "[" in my exmple to "left caret") I've showed the command on three separate lines for clarity but they can be grouped onto a single line.

[center>
[img width="100%" src="http://www.cns-snc.ca/history/qinshan%20startup.jpg" />
[/center>

For regular website address references, you can use the following for red text in standard background again change all "[" in my exmple to "left caret", or play with the text colours, three hex numbers indicating RED GREEN BLUE. As Graha demonstrates, there is also a command one can use within the "SPAN" to control the background colour.

[A href="add web address here in quotes" [SPAN style="COLOR: #ff4040"> [/SPAN>

Len Gould's picture
Len Gould on Jan 28, 2009
In the second command, the Title you'd like to appear for readers goes in between the right caret of the colour comman and the left caret of the /SPAN.
Jim Beyer's picture
Jim Beyer on Jan 28, 2009
Jeff,

I know I've said this 100 times as well. We just seem to be talking past each other.

1. It is true that H2O vapor is much more common in the atmosphere, and thus is a very large warming component when it is present.

2. It is also true that water vapor typically stays in the atmosphere only about 30 days or so.

3. CO2 on the other hand, stays in the atmosphere about 90 years.

What this all means is that H2O vapor is really a multiplier, that intensifies the effect of CO2 and other GHG concentrations.

Jeff Presley's picture
Jeff Presley on Jan 28, 2009
Ed, the "[" needs to be replaced with a "<"

also the "/" character means "end this" so if you've started something, like "a hypertext reference" (a href), you end it with a "/a" inside the left and right carets.

Here's your link fixed: [a href="http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/01/27/james-hansens-former-nasa-supervis..."> call it something here [/a>

Again, substituting "<" for "[" gives:

call it something here

It can be a pain to get these all right, and even with practice (or in spite of it) I often make mistakes as I did myself on the conspiracy link above.

Jeff Presley's picture
Jeff Presley on Jan 28, 2009
Ed, I've now READ your link and it is FANTASTIC! Thank you thank you thank you. Virtually EVERYTHING I have been saying is documented by PEER REVIEWED SCIENTISTS in that article. Hansen is a phony, and his comeuppance is coming up. I've been saying it, McIntyre has been saying it and now his ex-boss at NASA is saying it. The AGW house of cards is indeed tumbling down. The comments below the article are pretty funny too, especially the jawbone one.

BTW Hansen and Gavin Schmidt are co-conspirators on the "real climate" website. My link above repaired.

Climate Science (a REAL science site) versus Real Climate (a real politics site)

Jeff Presley's picture
Jeff Presley on Jan 28, 2009
Jim, your 3 statements are non-syllogistic. You might as well state

1) Jim is a man 2) Jim has brown hair 3) All men have brown hair

It is utter nonsense.

CO2 is an interesting molecule, you can make a laser out of it for instance, but that laser is terribly INEFFICIENT, it isn't producing power, but consuming massive amounts to produce a relatively weak effect (albeit useful). You can also make a laser from H2O and according to Charles Townes, you can even make one from pudding. I wouldn't go so far as to call pudding a GHG however.

The mystery for people who didn't pay enough attention in science class is that heat is NOT being produced by GHG's but a slight amount of it is being RETAINED. The heater is called the SUN, and everything else pales into insignificance. Climate is infinitely more complex than Hansen and others let on and too many such as yourself forget that the Earth is 70% water. Needless to say there aren't a lot of monitors floating on that vast expanse of sea, so the water vapor above it is regularly ignored in favor of the minority vapor above the land masses. In what other endeavor can you safely ignore 70% of your input?

Jim Beyer's picture
Jim Beyer on Jan 28, 2009
Well, Jeff, you seem to be intent on ignoring 100% of facts shown to you, so I guess that other endeavor would be your commentaries.

If the three points are utter nonsense, then which of them is false?

You comment about CO2 and lasers is completely random.

Yes, heat is not produced by GHGs, but by the sun. I actually knew that!

Anyway, a bit more about Hansen's ex-boss, this Theon guy. Most notably, he retired in 1994, so he couldn't really comment on any post-2000 "muzzling", one way or another.

More Stuff about John Theon

Edward Reid, Jr.'s picture
Edward Reid, Jr. on Jan 28, 2009
Jim,

Hansen must be the least effectively "muzzled" employee in the history of the federal government.

Ed

Edward Reid, Jr.'s picture
Edward Reid, Jr. on Jan 28, 2009
Jeff,

Check this out.

a href=http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/01/25/the-hardest-part-is-trying-to-infl... blink comparator in graph[/a>

Edward Reid, Jr.'s picture
Edward Reid, Jr. on Jan 28, 2009
Jeff, Check this out.

[a href=http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/01/25/the-hardest-part-is-trying-to-infl... blink comparator in graph[/a[

Edward Reid, Jr.'s picture
Edward Reid, Jr. on Jan 28, 2009
Oh, well!
Jim Beyer's picture
Jim Beyer on Jan 28, 2009
Let's try this.

(Coal piles in China photographed by Edward Burtynsky)

I think a good caption would be:

"Gee, I'm sure glad I recycled that plastic bag from the grocery store!"

Jeff Presley's picture
Jeff Presley on Jan 28, 2009
Jim, I don't know or care if your hair is brown, even if true it doesn't necessarily follow. If CO2 is in the atmosphere for a long time, what difference does that make if the PHYSICS doesn't hold up your argument? This is really very easy, it can be done in a lab under completely controlled conditions, a tiny bit of CO2 does a TINY bit of heat retention, PERIOD. Water vapor gets recycled true, but there is a LOT of it, and MOST of the planet is made up of water so there's a LOT more where THAT came from. Which part of THIS are you having a hard time understanding? Not to mention that laboratory test prove that water vapor is FOUR times more effective than CO2 at heat retention and we have a compelling case. To pretend that a tiny bit of CO2 mixed heterogeneously in the atmosphere has a multiplier effect on the H2O is just that, a pretense.

Ed, you really need to SUBSTITUTE the less than sign for the left bracket, and the greater than sign is the closing piece like this < something in the middle >

also you need to get rid of the space between the less and greater than signs and the hypertext commands, because that is what failed me above (I think) with this site's parser.

Here's your link, done right: Note blink comparator in graph

Jeff Presley's picture
Jeff Presley on Jan 28, 2009
Jim, about Hansen's boss. I've been someone's boss before but because of the vagaries of the system, only their direct supervisor (several rungs below me on the totem pole) were allowed to give them their annual reviews, but I had to Ok the budgets etc. Therefore Hansen was within his sphere. Furthermore Theon was certainly in a position to know NASA's policies concerning public statements and even your ad hominem attack site did nothing to refute THAT point.

The website you chose was more than pathetic, especially concerning geezers, something I'm personally offended at. Those old people took us to the moon, and as I've stated before, if we had to go TODAY we couldn't get it done in TEN YEARS, guaranteed! I certainly hope the folks who write that tripe get to die before they get old, the sooner the better apparently.

Ferdinand E. Banks's picture
Ferdinand E. Banks on Jan 29, 2009
That's funny Michael P., I've been going around all these years telling people that they put the blocks to Robert Oppenheimer because he was rich, famous, was a good dancer, had done a fantastic amount of traveling in Europe before the war, was attractive to the ladies, and in spite of those disadvantages was smart as hell.

Oppenheimer agreed that the bomb should be used on a Japanese city rather than in a demonstration, which - ex-post - a lot of military people, to include perhaps Eisenhower, thought made more sense. As far as I'm concerned the firing of Oppenheimer was a disgrace, a scandal, but life is like that. He should have just used some gutter language and shrugged it off. After all, as General Groves pointed out, nobody could have kept those prima donnas at Los Alamos in line except Oppenheimer, and that's what the US government wanted him to do.

Edward Reid, Jr.'s picture
Edward Reid, Jr. on Jan 29, 2009
Jeff,

You will enjoy this, even if I screw up the link process.

[a href = http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/01/28/forecasting-guru-announces-no-scie... [/a

Len Gould's picture
Len Gould on Jan 29, 2009
Jeff: "To pretend that a tiny bit of CO2 mixed heterogeneously in the atmosphere has a multiplier effect on the H2O is just that, a pretense. " -- You seem to be having a really difficult time with this very minor bit of obvious science. Water vapour is a controlled variable in GHG heat retention. CO2 and methane and other GHG's are controlling. Let's see, how else to explain it?


Take a unit 100 cubic meters of air near the earth's surface and near a body of open water. The amount of water vapour in that air depends entirely on the recent history of the temperature of the air, eg. from to 0 barg line in tha graph above (dark blue line), if the coldest overnight temperature to which the air was last subjected was 10 degC, then the air will hold (by eyeball, approx.) 1 kg of water vapour. Any additional water vapour the air may have contained (perhaps it cooled overnight from a warmer daytime temperature when it collected additional moisture) will have condensed out as dew / hoar frost, which we're all familiar with. If the coldest overnight temperature to which the air was last subjected was 23 degC, then the air will hold (by eyeball, approx.) 2 kg of water vapour.

IIt is obvious then that the water content of air is entirely dependent on the air's temperature (and pressure). Taking atmospheric pressure as not an issue of significance in this discussion since it will be essentially the same for both a natural climate and a GHG-induced warmer climate, we can see that, for a given condition, all else being equal, if we add jenough CO2 / methane / etc. to a 100 cu meter vertical column of earth's atmosphere sufficient to cause it to retain enough additional heat to increase its minimum overnight temperature from 20 degC to 21 degC, then that 100 cubic meters of air will INCREASE its water vapour content from 1.8 kg to 1.9 kg. THEN, the additional water vapour content itself will make an additional contribution to the radiant heat retained, further increasing the minimum overnight temperature, thus further increasing the amount of water vapour retained, etc. etc. in a circle.

Of course I've chose temps and pressures to simplify my example, reality is a lot more complex, but still works approximately as described. That's why politicians and rational people listen to specialist climate scientists rather than amateurs like myself (or yourself).

Len Gould's picture
Len Gould on Jan 29, 2009
correction - change the "to a 100 cu meter vertical column of earth's atmosphere" to "to a vertical column of earth's atmosphere containing the same mss of air as 100 cu meters at1 barg"
Jim Beyer's picture
Jim Beyer on Jan 29, 2009
Here is Ed's link:

Ed's Link

Don't worry Ed, practice makes perfect. And I'm sorry my pic was so big it widened the whole page; got mess with that 'width' parameter, I guess.

To add on to Len's point, unlike water, CO2 (or methane for that matter) does not rain out of our atmosphere. So when it does get cold, like at night, much of the water leaves the atmosphere. The next morning, the rate at which things will heat up again depends on the ground albedo and any extant GHGs, namely CO2 and methane. The water vapor follows the heat, not the other way around.

Len Gould's picture
Len Gould on Jan 29, 2009
Ed: You got your links ALMOST corrrect, just change the leading "[" to "<" wherever they occur.
Len Gould's picture
Len Gould on Jan 29, 2009
I still have an error in that correction. Trying again.

correction - change the "to a 100 cu meter vertical column of earth's atmosphere" to "to a vertical column of earth's atmosphere containing the same mass of air as 100 cu meters at 0 barg"

Len Gould's picture
Len Gould on Jan 29, 2009
Agreed, Jim, width parameter on the "link images" command works strangely. I can't figure out what the 100% refers to, the image or the page in which it is displayed. It appears to me so far that it refers to the image itself IF the image size is wider than the page displaying it (hence your high-res picture increased the page width), else to the page (hence my graph above got stretched). Wierd.
Malcolm Rawlingson's picture
Malcolm Rawlingson on Jan 31, 2009
The clear and unequivocal lesson from Quinshan is that large nuclear (I would hardly call a 730MW x 2 plant small) reactors can be built on time and on budget. So what was different about about Quinshan than the rest is the question we should all be asking. It quite clearly CAN be done and therefore is well within the capability of humans to manage such projects.

1. No stopping the project halfway through. 2. Once approved politics stays out of it. 3.A workforce dedicated to completing it. 4. A terrific design that can be built in modules.

THAT is why Quinshan was a success.

AHEAD of TIME ON budget VERY reliable VERY safe NO CO2 NO pollution LOW fuel costs

Where did you see THAT major accomplishment in the newspapers or TV?

I defy anyone to say that is not preferable to humungous greta big piles of coal, or tens of thousands of windmills or damming up rivers and flooding vast tracts of land.

Of course large nuclear can be built on time and on budget. Just allow the people who know how to build them do their job.

Malcolm

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