Wow, the results of this WSJ poll was surprising:


Human cause
chart courtesy of WSJ


And they teed up the poll with this description:

This decade is on track to become the warmest since records began in 1850, and 2009 could rank among the top-five warmest years, the U.N. weather agency reported on the second day of a pivotal 192-nation climate conference.

What do you think is causing the warm-up?  Is it human activity on the planet, or a natural cycle?


Current Decade on Track to Be Warmest on Record
Associated Press

Category: Really, really bad calls, UnScience

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

135 Responses to “WSJ: Are Humans Responsible for Climate Change?”

  1. Mannwich says:

    After the multi-decade of delusion that we’ve just seen, why exactly is this at all “surprising”?

  2. msaroff says:

    I think that this says more about the quality of the average Wall Street Journal reader (low), and the fact that someone freeped the poll.

  3. rustum says:

    I guess people are loosing confidence in experts opinion.

  4. blueoysterjoe says:

    Any poll that shows Americans agreeing on 90% of anything is automatically suspect.

    You could ask Americans if they thought Jesus gave birth to Elvis on the wing of the Hindenburg, and 15% would agree.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to find that, say, 60% or even 70% of Americans don’t believe climate is driven by human activity, but 90%? Bullshit.

  5. Moss says:

    I wonder how this poll group would have responded to the following question:

    Who was responsible for the economic crisis:

    a). Human Beings
    b). Government

  6. hue says:

    you should see the poll at the dailykos

  7. Mannwich says:

    This “poll” is about as reliable scientifically as an ESPN poll.

  8. CNBC Sucks says:

    Humans may not be responsible for climate change, but I think ahab is. ;)

    Just kidding, ahab. Glad to see you quoted Cormac McCarthy last night. I hope you enjoyed The Road. I am about to start Blood Meridian.

  9. call me ahab says:

    “You could ask Americans if they thought Jesus gave birth to Elvis on the wing of the Hindenburg, and 15% would agree. ”

    so . . .uh . . .not true then?

    anyway- sounds about as plausible as jesus being born to a virgin mother- more than 15% of the people are still buying that one-

    the big lies last the longest

  10. Patrick Neid says:

    When the watermelons use a three card monty to get rid of the Medieval warming period and the following little ice age, cheered on by the Al “i”m not a moron Gore’s” what do you expect?

  11. bsneath says:

    Once again, this is what happens when people believe in “the end justifies the means.” All credibility is lost. Be it WMD in Iraq or Falsified Hickey Stick Graphs and “hiding the decline” in climate science.

  12. call me ahab says:


    yeah- it’s funny- “The Road” was rather depressing- but it has staying power due to the imagery it creates- we’ll see if the movie can do it justice- it’s the only book I have read of his-

    and at long last- my dry spell on the Ritholtz FF league has ended and the Austrians handed the Blankfiends a loss!

    dropping injured Turner sure created some controversy- CFA had a point- but the dude has only had 1 loss all season- and yet he is crying-

    in fact you and he were the biggest crybaby’s on the league- a zero $$$$ league no less

  13. Wes Schott says:

    …@ahab- its not about the money, its about the power

  14. CNBC Sucks says:

    Yeah, ahab, I didn’t appreciate CFA being a crybaby. That fine young man should have known The Great CNBC Sucks would never allow ANYBODY to try to move in on my Ritholtz FF league crybaby franchise without a fight.

    I showed him, huh?

    PS: As I told my future ex-wife Maureen, The Road movie was technically proficient, but did not achieve the same severe emotional reaction that the novel delivered. I think it was over-edited.

  15. Swampfox says:

    I’d say that’s not really a poll. I’d also say a lot of polls are suspect. I’d also say a lot of data/charts are suspect, too. BLS, anyone?

    Barry, I get that you’re a bit of a believer in AGW. Given your skepticism of many gov’t data points, have you reconsidered your AGW position based on the now obviously politicized science of climate change/global warming since the whole e-mail scandal?

  16. call me ahab says:

    “its not about the money, its about the power”

    so true Wes- so true- first victory on the Ritholtz FF league- then the world- lol

  17. fatelephant says:

    Go back to the 14th century and conduct a poll:
    Do you believe the earth goes round the sun ?

  18. Swampfox says:

    @CNBC Sucks,

    Haven’t seen the Road movie yet, but the book was awesome. I finished it during the summer and felt like it was raining and grey for at least a week after despite the warm sunshine everywhere.

  19. lalaland says:

    CNBC Sucks: blood meridian is radically different (as an earlier book) and reads much more like Faulkner if I remember right. Some of the passages in the all the pretty horses trilogy are road-esque- might try those.

    Also, at first I was like “whoa! those poll numbers are freaking terrible!”

    Then I remembered that I loathe humans anyway, and I think we, as a species, deserve either global warming or nuclear disaster for being a parasitic and asinine species (with all these gifts what have we done with them?).

  20. VennData says:

    Is this a BCS blogpost poll?

    — Boise St.

  21. Init4good says:

    The 90% of people who believe an increase in carbon dioxide in earth
    ‘s atmosphere has nothing to do with warming are the same people who believe deregulation had nothing to do with the current financial state this country finds itself in.

  22. gfb615 says:


    Maybe true, and it must have been about the time of the last global warming period. However, then as now, it was the government/religous-sponsored scientists that were clinging to this opinion.

  23. call me ahab says:


    as the late great Kurt Vonnegut said prior to his death-

    the sooner we’re all gone the better off the planet will be- and that the seeds of our destruction was the invention of fire- probably true i guess-

    so if that’s how we feel- let’s get on with it-

    as the “brother” said in “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle” when he was reminiscing about tasty White Castle sliders and upset about the burger shack he was working in-

    “let’s burn this mother fucker down” *

    * this is pardoy- ahab does not condone violence of any kind- and is basically just a big nancy man

  24. EAR says:

    The “worry” that there is some sinister movement that uses false data to coerce people into changing their behavior for the benefit of the environment is odd. What’s wrong with less toxic crap being spewed into the air and water?

    It’s like second hand smoke, smokers could find some study that says that it isn’t harmful for those around them or just believe it isn’t. But what’s the point? So you can blow that crap in the air around people who don’t choose to inhale it?

    The argument that changes in behavior are financially detrimental to business and hinder productivity assume that industrial innovation has reached its peak, that we can’t figure out how to do things cleaner AND more efficient. It’s defeatist.

  25. call me ahab says:


    i don’t believe- as i said in a previous post- before long we’ll have Rosanna Rosanna Dana saying “never mind”-

    and your contradicting yourself- you found out the financiers were lying to you – why such a believer now?

  26. Climategate says:

    WSJ readers are more educated than the simpletons who listen to CNN and NBC propaganda. WSJ readers do not buy or drink the “peer reviewed consensus” Cool Aid.

  27. catman says:

    Ahab/Wes re FF Which one is Pinky and which one Brain?

  28. Bob the unemployed says:

    Not surprising, considering the WSJ readership demographics.

  29. markwax says:

    Man, almost the same percentages as the polls they conducted asking the same question of monkeys.

    What a coincidence!

  30. bsneath says:

    I suspect many answered the poll question like me. I will readily admit that human activity has made some contribution but I’ll be damned if I am going to vote yes and further reinforce the actions of a corrupted and politicized science.

    The bottom line is we do not know the extent to which humans have caused global warming and what specific actions are responsible for it. CO2? Aerosols? Conversion of forests to agriculture? Urbanization? Cow Farts?

  31. Todd in SM says:

    what genius would give this pole, or hold a global warming conference, in the middle of WINTER!!!!!!!

  32. freejack says:

    A fine example of that particular herd following their Prime Directive.

    “Which answer will piss off the Liberal Hippies”

  33. Wes Schott says:


    i call bs -

    you have just undermined your credibility

    …and this has nothing to do whether or not climate change is naturally dominated or man influenced

  34. bsneath says:

    You say you want a revolution
    Well, you know
    We all want to change the world
    You tell me that it’s evolution
    Well, you know
    We all want to change the world
    But when you talk about destruction
    Don’t you know that you can count me out
    Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right

  35. Nick says:

    It’s awesome that all the survey respondents have gone out and got their PhDs in Climatology. Oh that’s right, they haven’t!

    Whether you’re a gambler, an investor, a farmer, you always hedge the unknown. Regardless of what people’s best uneducated guess is, we should implement the most practical “hedge” against anthropogencic emissions — reduce them!

  36. Drewbie says:

    When the waters start rising, all the denialists should be shipped off to Vanutatu, where they can all join hands and sing “onward christian soldiers” and pat Inhofe on the back as they sink beneath the waves.

    No desperate loss to civilisation, or society.

  37. RB says:

    There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding over “hide the decline” means and its impact. The previous ginormous chart partially explained it correctly on either side. Basically it refers to the fact that various proxies (tree rings, corals, lake sediments) etc. are used to reconstruct temperatures going back 1000 years to see whether the surface temperature records that we have for the last 150 years or so are unprecedented. This reconstruction is compared against recent data to ascertain its validity. Not all tree rings show the rise in temperature in recent times. That doesn’t mean that there wasn’t warming recently – that evidence comes directly from temperature measurements. That raises the question of whether tree rings are good thermometers to yield information about the past. The main implication of throwing out all tree-related data in proxies makes the medieval warm period of comparable temperatures to today and therefore not unprecedented. That doesn’t mean that is the right thing to do, but there is a lot of discussion ongoing over whether the medieval warm period was global or only restricted to the northern hemisphere. That also does not invalidate the warming concerns since Kyoto protocol 1997 came about before the whole hockey stick paper even started with a publication by Mann in 1998. That concern comes, in my understanding, about the well-known greenhouse gas effect of CO2 and based on the good agreement of climatic models with temperature measurements which is obtained only by using a greenhouse gas effect from CO2 coupled with water vapor. Furthermore, multiple independent measurements such as boreholes corroborate the temperature measurements that we have from stations around the world – and this will be the next battleground i.e. to prove that the station data was cooked which is a tall order given the multiple ways in which the same 1F warming over the last 50 years was obtained. Nevertheless, it is coming.
    Hide the decline does not, once again, mean that recent temperatures are declining. It refers to what information we have about the past.

  38. RB says:

    Also, I might add — even if temperatures today are the same as the peak in the medieval warm period, based on our understanding, there is additional 0.5C warming already in the pipeline as the oceans warm up, but further warming if CO2 emissions continue to rise.

  39. thfiv says:

    Fools – What has more influence on climate man or the sun? Is the sun constant?

    If you cannot answer those simple questions and come to a logical conclusion, you are a FOOL.

    10,000 years ago glaciers covered much of the US.

    Did man melt those glaciers?

  40. bsneath says:

    @Drewbie: 10 centimeters. Get out your ruler and see how long that is.

    If everything that the AGW climate scientists are saying is correct and if we take the drastic measures being proposed to reduce carbon emission 80% by the year 2050 (which will be impossible by the way) then we will have altered the rise in sea levels by 10 centimeters over the do nothing scenario.

  41. thfiv says:

    6th grade science you fools.

  42. call me ahab says:

    stop it already-

    everyone is scaring me- the sea level’s going to rise and i’m going to drown-

    or it’s going to get warmer and i’m going to be uncomfortable-

    what am i saying- i like the water and warm weather-

    never mind

  43. thfiv says:

    A meteor formed the Gulf of Mexico.

  44. call me ahab says:

    and has anyone considered- if it gets warmer- maybe dinosaurs will come back-

    you know- like Land Before Time- that would be cool

  45. thfiv says:

    Why are people so stupid?

  46. Marcus Aurelius says:

    February 11, 2009
    On Darwin’s Birthday, Only 4 in 10 Believe in Evolution

    What do we expect from these people? Deep thought? A sense of responsibility to anything but themselves? They can only believe in something they can’t see if there’s no scientific evidence for it.

  47. Marcus Aurelius says:

    ahab, dude, you’ve got a gimormous mosquito on your neck.

  48. Pat G. says:

    The majority of respondents are still in the denial phase. Don’t blame humans…

  49. bsneath says:

    This is why there are skeptics

  50. Marcus Aurelius says:

    We live in a closed and fairly well-balanced system. We really should understand the scientific ramifications of things we introduce into it, and the potential impacts of any imbalance or negative impact that might result from that introduction (CFCs/ozone/skin cancer ratios, for example). I really don’t think that rapid loss of arctic and antarctic ice is going to end up being a good thing for us (not to mention other already-observable phenomena of large amounts of atmospheric CO2/climate change).

  51. fatelephant says:

    Once you conduct (or participate in) a poll with a question such as do you BELIEVE …
    science has already lost the battle. Once you express your belief, a.k.a FAITH, you are already being religious (using the word religious rather broadly) about it.
    The thing to remember is that polls show peoples’ biases and have nothing to do with the truth.

  52. RB says:

    “Did man melt those glaciers?”

    This is scepticism, if you can call it that, at a kindergarten level. Climate scientists and scientific sceptics are in agreement that the sun melted those glaciers.

  53. patfla says:

    Didn’t this latest study hit the wire today (Tues Dec 8) or yesterday? Meant to look it up and read some.

    But how do I reconcile it with this?,1518,662092,00.html

    Which is dated Nov 19 2009.

    And it’s sort of funny that this latest study report arrived the day of (?) the start of the Copenhagen conference.

    And I’m no global warming skeptic – bought a 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid when it fist came out in 2006. Drive 9500 miles/yr. Etc.

  54. candymanz says:

    Look at this wordplay. The smart alecs at the wsj are co-conspirators with the un on this argument. The un’s pretense is to study “the risk of human-induced climate change.” The wsj says “…are humans responsible…”. The guilty party is already identified and all the tree huggers have to do is present any fact to support the premise.
    The H _ _ _ with looking at the science. The premise must be changed.

  55. patfla says:

    Damn those automatic smilies (and no preview here).

    Dec Smiley was supposed to be Dec. the eighth.

  56. RB says:

    patfla: That is one of the issues raised by Trenberth in the leaked emails. I don’t believe they have a solid explanation for it yet. I think they are looking, as the article suggests, at the El Nino/La Nina cycles. Nevertheless, climate refers to a 30-year average of weather.

  57. izimbra says:

    I don’t want to have anything to do with the WSJ or its readership. But I’m pretty skeptical about whether most the people calling the respondents stupid have actually examined any evidence to justify their view. Note that there IS lots of evidence that 1) the earth is currently in a warming trend and 2) the greenhouse effect will contribute to warming the planet, 3) that CO2 emissions contribute to the greenhouse effect, and 4) that people’s activities cause a lot of CO2 emissions. But all of those things put together don’t establish that the greenhouse effect is the primary cause of the current warming trend. As others have noted, there were bigger swings in both warming and cooling before people were making any significant contribution to anything.

    It would be foolhardy and callous to risk assuming that the greenhouse effect isn’t causing the warming, but that’s not what the poll asked.

  58. patfla says:

    thanx RB.

    At the risk of shooting my mouth off before I’ve done my due diligence, the emails I thought came from a important climate research center in the UK whereas the results reported by Der Spiegel comes from Germany and in particular the Max Planck Institute (which I know of well).

    And 30 yrs? What I read this morning is that the latest _decade_ will be the warmest on record and I think the Max Planck Institute result regards pretty much the last decade?

  59. call me ahab says:

    MA has made probably the best point-

    let’s drop all the nonsense and hysteria- and venture to do things that make the air and water and the environment as close to what it would be w/o people slopping everything up-

    and that is “as close as possible”- doesn’t mean mankind should eat its young and start living naked in the woods living off tree bark and available insects-

    i don’t buy the global warming scare- but i do believe we should keep things nice and clean

  60. RB says:

    For the record, the IPCC statement in its last report is that most of the 1F warming in the last 50 years was due to human causes, with a 90% confidence interval.

  61. investorinpa says:

    I think the main driver of global warming can be nailed down to ONE source…..polling data. Over the past 20 years, there has been an unprecedented growth in the number of polls on any subject. This has caused a great warming effect as it has employed people to practically do nothing but create carbon at their desk as they munch on Taco Bell and ask questions over the phone.

  62. thfiv says:

    Marcus Aurelius go measure the effect of volcanoes, ocean seeps, undersea vents, sun spots, solar flares, solar winds, algae, termites, bovine flatulance, earth orbit, axis shift, solar magnetism, plate tectonics, jet streams, ocean currents, and stupidity.

  63. RB says:

    patfla: I haven’t followed all the news reports, but nevertheless, global mean temperatures are computed based on, my understanding is, something equivalent to a 30-year average. When we refer to climate, it is over a 30-year period. Nevertheless, the media has somehow created the impression that CO2 is the only factor and that data must move in a straight line. If you want to learn more, this book excerpt from Richard Muller formerly of Berkeley who studies prehistoric climate patterns, but not the climate science of the warming type, might be a good start:

  64. DL says:

    Yes, maybe humans are partially responsible for the climate change, but I DO NOT want a huge carbon tax.

    Among the ranks of the climate change crowd, there are no doubt quite a few who just want to increase the size of government.

  65. patfla says:

    Compare and contrast these articles’ titles as regards the climate summit in Copenhagen today:

    China attacks rich states at summit

    Rifts Arise at Climate Summit

    Although, imo, WSJ has been heading seriously downhill recently. I assume as Rupert Murdoch’s influence is finally manifesting itself in editorial terms. These days, I can look at a WSJ article title (but the transformation isn’t complete yet) and pretty much dismiss out of hand some of the articles. As FOX-like rants.

  66. bman says:

    You know I think the world is warming but who cares? it’s cold in the winter still. It would be better to ask do you live near the ocean, are the seas rising? @DL I want a gas tax, a carbon tax and a greedy rich bast@rds tax. Then I want tax credits for electric vehicles, solar panels and windmills, along with good old fashioned insulation, riding your bike to work and anyother energy saving credit you can think of.
    Sons of greedy rich b@stards should have to forfeit 60% of their inheritances. You’ve all probably heard what I think should happen to greedy people themselves.
    I think all that can be done without increasing the size of government.

    Retoricals aside if we do not put a gas tax to bring the price up to 5 or 6 $ a gallon, soon, like yesterday, it will be no time before we are paying that to the oil producing countries, except there will be no cap at 5 or 6$ a gallon.

  67. Ducky62 says:

    Excellent comment-whoring.

    I’m totally skeptical about nearly everything and a radical anti-government anarcho-capitalist but the WSJ poll doesn’t even offer the most “correct” answer: “I don’t know”.

  68. Transor Z says:

    Yeah, MA, get off your lazy ass and start measuring volcano emissions.

    Thfiv, it’s pretty much guaranteed that anyone who posts here and addresses the group as “You fools!” is either a troll or a cast member from Plan 9 from Outer Space who became real and posts on the internet.

    Occam’s Razor suggests the former.

    Climategate, you’re a pretty polished single-issue troll.

    Who pays you guys and how can I get that gig? Is it one of those work at home and make $4000 a week deals? Or more like draw this cartoon kitty cat to see if you have artistic talent?

    Fake background stories, please.

  69. rootless_cosmopolitan says:


    “This is why there are skeptics

    And these kind of websites feed from the “skeptics”. The maintain each other. I replied to this in the other thread:


  70. FrancoisT says:

    “Once again, this is what happens when people believe in “the end justifies the means.”

    What about the funding of scientific mercenaries, of institutes dedicated to obfuscation, spin and constant lies? Does the “end justifies the means” also applies to them?…or only toward those who contradict a preset belief system of yours?

  71. bman says:

    @thfiv, The effect of your stupidity causes me to point out that Algae, Termites and Bovine Flatulance are affected by human activity. Where’s the Beef?

    It’s not the temperature that is going to kill so many people it’s the oceans, and the saltwater, inundating farmlands.

  72. Aeroscout840 says:

    I wonder what the poll would have read if the question were :

    “Can the the earth absorb an unlimited amount of pollution?”

  73. badtrader says:

    @patfla (8:19 pm)

    A logical explanation is that the increase in heat energy is being used to melt the ice. When you boil water on your stove, the temp of the water stays at 212 F (100 C) until all the water has been changed into steam at which point the temp of the steam will increase if it continues to receive energy from a heat source.

    In the same way, we might not see the average temp change significantly until all of the ice at the poles has melted. If I’m right, all that increase in energy from increased levels of CO2 is going into the breakage of the molecular bonds in the ice.

  74. Swampfox says:

    Given that Aspen seem to like CO2 and the fact that there isn’t an “unlimited” amount of CO2 or pollution or your exhaled breath (whatever term you like), the “earth” can probably absorb a lot.

  75. bman says:

    Drewbie, you are an enlightened Gem, this is the first I’ve heard from you, but I like you a lot already!

  76. momoso says:

    Wow, a whole 10% of WSJ readers say it’s human-made? Al Gore should celebrate!

  77. bman says:

    Badtrader yes you are correct, there is a latency to the curve at freezing and boiling.

  78. Swampfox says:

    @rc – “The[y] maintain each other”

    Um, kind of like the climate scientists that maintained each other in the e-mails? Really, I can’t think of a better example of maintaining each other than scientists fudging the data, hiding the data, censoring, subverting peer review, and overall using intimidation to hold on to power. Have you actually read the e-mails?

  79. thfiv says:

    @bman Wrong

    Check out sea algae.

    Termites do not need houses.

    Bovine includes wildebeast and bison.

    Pick up a 6th grade science book.

    Instead of watching the Simpsons or South Park, watch Blue Planet.

  80. call me ahab says:


    who fucking cares?

    badtrader- if it is determined that the ice will melt regardless- what then- should humanity take a group jump off a bridge?

    and besides- if the sea rises- land prices will increase-

    is that not a good thing- lol

  81. RB says:

    @badtrader, I don’t think that’s it. Remember that the greenhouse effect is one of trapping radiation from the earth of heat received from the sun that would have otherwise got reflected back into space.

  82. badtrader says:

    @ izimbra (8:27 pm) There have been bigger swings in temp but those swings took much longer I believe. The main evidence (as I understand it) that CO2 is responsible is the RATE OF CHANGE of the temperature is now much higher which coincides with the rate of change of the level of CO2.

    @ Ahab (9:56 pm), Humanity may not need to jump. The bridge may eventually be underwater.

  83. bman says:

    Glad to be your wrong, but you should read about algae blooms.

    Wildebeasts, I bet there’s a lot of them polluting up the atmosphere, I hope I get to see one before I die.

    Termites don’t need houses for sure but guess what you take the bark off the trees and slice em up into two by fours and use them in houses all over the place including in warm climates I bet you make it nice and easy for termites to make babies. (eggs >larvae > pupae > adults, to be precise)

    I think it was 6th grade in my science class when I started correcting my science teacher. That didn’t go over well, however, She later apologized because I was right.

    I don’t watch tv. I am well read however.

  84. RB says:

    .. “radiated into space” I should have said (specifically infrared radiation to which CO2 is very responsive).

  85. bergsten says:

    OK. I admit it. I skipped ahead about 50 comments to post mine, but promise to go back and read them later…


    Has anybody suggested that these people just poll and poll and poll and poll until they get some “muckraking-worthy” results, then only print those?

    Maybe the choices were “yes” and “not yes” (glumping the “not sure’s, don’t cares, confused by the question, scared by the interviewer, etc. into the “no” column?

    Maybe, due to a computer malfunction, they called the same (extremely tolerant) person 4,900 times?

  86. badtrader says:

    @ RB (10:04 pm) Exactly and that radiation is being used to melt the ice instead of heat up the earth. Once all that ice is melted, the temp of the earth will then start rising much faster. Take a bucket of ice and stick it under a fire. The temp of the ice won’t go above 32 F (0 Celsius) until all that ice is melted at which point the temp of the liquid will start increasing.

  87. bergsten says:

    OK. Finished the rest of the comments.

    Look — let’s just forget the whole thing and keep on obsessing on stupid global warming, or stupid global cooling, or stupid climate change, or stupid El Nino, or whatever.

    I’d much prefer the “madness of crowds” being mad about something largely irrelevant, rather than something dumb but dangerous, you know, kind of like they did in Europe, say 60-ish years ago?

  88. bergsten says:

    Hey. You know, some of the mad Physicists have postulated the even madder idea that computing adds to the Entropy of the universe for some insane reason or other to do with heat or math or 10-dimensional wiggly things.

    Maybe they should ban computing at this Climate Conference of theirs…

  89. bman says:

    I am pleased to be able to post a chart of some relevance to this discussion

  90. RB says:

    @badtrader, perhaps, but the current worst-case forecast is well before that scenario. The IPCC forecast calls for a 2C to 5C increase at current rate of emissions. The top-end of the range would be the catastrophic scenario and would not even be the worst-case scenario that Hansen envisions (where warming seas release methane from the seabeds). The variability, as I understand it, is due to the range of sensitivity to clouds. Therefore, IPCC calls for emission cuts that cap the increase at not more than 2C. Notes on how to calculate CO2 sensitivity, as scientists know it today:

  91. RB says:

    [Note that the sceptical point of view is that you have to use lower sensitivity values than in the above]

  92. bman says:

    Here’s another nice plot, notice the flat transitions while energy is still added to the system.
    This illustrates Badtraders point very well.

  93. badtrader says:

    @ RB (10:24 pm) Well you obviously know a lot more about the scenarios than I do. I just know the physics of it being that I have a MS in Mechanical Engineering and have studied thermodynamics thoroughly (partly because I find it really interesting).

    In my last response to you, I said, “the temp of the ice wont’ change until all the ice is melted,” I should have said, “the temp of the ice / liquid mixture won’t change until all the ice has melted into liquid.”

    As long as there’s ice at the polls the earth’s temp can’t increase significantly because any excess heat energy will go to melt the ice. Once ALL the ice is melted, uh oh, we’re in trouble because now that energy will no longer be absorbed by the ice.

  94. bman says:

    Bergstren there is always schrodingers cat to keep in mind. Do you want to open the box and be guilty of inhumane treatment of animals?

  95. bergsten says:

    @bman — if you stab the box with a fork a few times, you don’t HAVE to open it.

  96. RB says:

    badtrader, I understand your point and I’ve certainly forgotten my thermodynamics, but I think warming due to a global CO2 increase cannot be heavily restricted by a local one (at the poles). Besides, even in say the Antarctic, the temperature at the interior is about -30C to -50C and even 5C warming is not going to result in ice melting there, but it calves off glaciers at the edge of water. The scientists’ point that long-term CO2 increase is a good historical number ( highest in ~650,000 years of history) is because CO2 is a well-mixed gas. Therefore, we can have global warming without the local influence. I don’t think we need to bring the energy for breaking ice into the picture, in my opinion.

  97. constantnormal says:

    @BR — “Wow, the results of this WSJ poll was surprising”

    Really? Given the proclivity of people (Americans, at least, but I suspect all people are like this) to:

    1) be polarized by extremists on both sides of any issue

    2) to repeatedly insist upon evaluating complex situations by single-number metrics

    3) form opinions based solely on the opinions of others who are just as unqualified as they are themselves (I know that every computer expert has had to explain at one time or another why their 20+ years of experience and training trumps the opinion of some idiot’s buddy down the street) — without ever bothering to lift a finger to try and get the least little bit educated. Surely you have seen this in your own areas of expertise!

    If anyone REALLY wants to learn something about the global climate change situation (and I am absolutely certain that 99.9% do not — even of the august body of commenters here), then I recommend that they read the (by now certainly outdated in detail, but not in methodology) work of Dr Wm Ruddiman (start with ISBN-10 0691133980 for a layman’s approach), and watch him build up a model of global climate, using all the data he can find and trying various explanations and models to fit the data to the theories.

    Then compare that methodology to any of the populist theories promoted by ideologues, and see how well THEIR explanations hold up and model things like the drop in global temperature that occurred during the Black Death in the Middle Ages, or the record of CO2 in arctic ice cores vs global temperature going back well before man ever existed on this planet. If their notions only model well against the past 50 or 200 years, they are idiots and no one should listen to them for any length of time at all. Kinda like a model of TA that modeled well over the past 6 months, but fell apart when you went back any further than that.

    Personally, I think it’s due to all those moon rockets back in the 1970s, punching holes in the bubble that keeps out the evil space rays.

  98. constantnormal says:

    @rustom 5:40 pm

    “I guess people are loosing confidence in experts opinion.”

    Nope — it’s that people believe that they ARE experts, and if not, then listening to the bloke on the barstool next to them will make them one.

    Learning, quantitative analysis, logic, reason are not necessary, just give them a meme that conveniently represents their own innermost wants, and that’s the gospel truth!

  99. constantnormal says:

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

    — Upton Sinclair, author (1878-1968)

  100. badtrader says:

    @ RB (10:42 pm) I read your response. Like I said you obviously have studied this a lot more than I have so I’ll leave it at that. One thing we can agree on is what you said in your first response to me: an increase in CO2 traps more radiation from the earth so global warming due to an increase in CO2 makes perfect sense if one believes in physics and chemistry (unfortunately a lot of the US population apparently doesn’t). I enjoyed the discussion.