back to article Melting permafrost switches to nasty, high-gear methane release

A team of researchers has discovered new evidence that as the permafrost layer that covers 24 per cent of the Northern Hemisphere continues to thaw as global temperatures increase, not only does it release more greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, but as time goes by the ratio of carbon dioxide (CO2) to methane (CH4) changes …

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  1. ecofeco Silver badge

    The fat lady has sung

    We are past the tipping point. Yet we argue that the ship has even sprung a leak.

    Once again, the great culling begins.

    1. Fluffy Bunny
      Holmes

      Re: The fat lady has sung

      Read the article again. They say could, not have. Again, it's just a theory, not confirmed fact.

      1. Lars Silver badge
        Alien

        Re: The fat lady has sung

        Yes, only could, which of course is not will. Thanks, and just a theory too, back to bed.

      2. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge

        Re: The fat lady has sung

        Please go back to your basic science books and work out what the difference between an hypothesis and a theory is. Then re-read. Then explain notions of probability and 'fact'. Then rethink your post.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The fat lady has sung

        And yet atmospheric CO2 passed 400 ppm for the first time in 3 million years - just as was predicted by scientists almost 50 years ago. Or would you like to doubt direct atmospheric measurements?

        Perhaps you would like to demonstrate that CO2 and CH4 are *not* greenhouse gasses (and in the process win the Nobel prize for chemistry)

        You guys really are running out of arguments, but you have successfully derailed action for long enough that it will now be fantastically expensive and difficult to fix (if even possible). You must be very proud.

        1. NumptyScrub

          Re: The fat lady has sung

          quote: "And yet atmospheric CO2 passed 400 ppm for the first time in 3 million years - just as was predicted by scientists almost 50 years ago. Or would you like to doubt direct atmospheric measurements?"

          Err, if you have direct atmospheric measurements from 3 million years ago I'd love to see them :)

          Also, from memory the planet is >4 billion years old, so 3 million is less than 0.1% of the planet's lifetime; for the first billion years (?) it was covered in volcanoes and magma, like some sort of planet acne.

          According to this nice graph 300 million of the last 303 million years we have had more atmospheric CO2 than today. Maybe. I could be reading it wrong, although that spike at ~450Mya seems to indicate more than 4000ppmv, or 10 times more than now? It also doesn't dovetail that well with this temperature graph of a similar time period; ~450Mya we were in a cold slump with >4000ppmv CO2, and again from 300Mya to today, temperature seems to be at odds with the CO2 concentrations, with the high temperature points seeming to be at the lower (sub 1000ppmv) CO2 concentrations.

          Obviously paleontologists are unfamiliar with CO2 being such an important greenhouse gas or they would have revised those graphs by now ^^;

          Also I quite like this one because it looks quite like a cardiograph. It does seem to suggest that ice core readings would indicate that we got warmer at the poles 120Kya than today though, and the CO2 graph looks like it had more in the ice from 320Kya ago than today as well.

          I have no doubt either I'm reading them wrong, or that the data is wrong though, because it all seems so at adds with the doom and gloom of current climate science. We know today that we're on a rollercoaster ride to thermal hell (literally) and that it is all human's fault. Paleontologists (or paleoclimatologists?) would seem to think that this happens by itself on a recurring cycle ^^;

          1. NomNomNom

            Re: The fat lady has sung

            "and the CO2 graph looks like it had more in the ice from 320Kya ago than today as well"

            That graph doesn't go up to today. In the last 100 years CO2 concentration has risen to 400ppm. Check that against the y-axis (edit: wikipedia has it graphed http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1c/Carbon_Dioxide_400kyr.png)

            "~450Mya we were in a cold slump with >4000ppmv CO2, and again from 300Mya to today"

            450Mya the Sun was much fainter.

            1. NumptyScrub

              Re: The fat lady has sung

              quote: "That graph doesn't go up to today. In the last 100 years CO2 concentration has risen to 400ppm. Check that against the y-axis (edit: wikipedia has it graphed http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1c/Carbon_Dioxide_400kyr.png)"

              Wait, are you stating that the CO2 concentrations found in the ice actually exactly mirror atmospheric, rather than simply being proportional to atmospheric? I was under the impression that the amount of CO2 dissolved in oceanic water was proportional, and that those figures therefore were not indicative of actual atmospheric concentration :/

              quote: "450Mya the Sun was much fainter."

              Best I can come up with is this thingy which at the 4By mark (0.5Bya) would suggest an internal temperature of basically the same, luminosity of about 95% of current and a radius of ~98% of current. So about 5% less thermal energy hitting the planet (assuming luminosity and IR output co-relate), with around 1000% the CO2 (assuming 4000ppmv as the low estimate).

              It would have to be a very complicated equation to get "colder than now" using 0.95 times the solar irradiance and 10.0 times the atmospheric CO2 (fag packet maths suggests the effect of CO2 on global temperature then, should be around 9.5 times more than the predicted effect of atmospheric CO2 today, at 1.0 times the irradiance and 1.0 times the atmospheric CO2). I'm perfectly willing to concede the equation to be complex (I have no idea what it actually is according to the current models), but it would need the CO2 related part to be a slightly different magnitude than the picture painted by current climate science, which suggests CO2 concentrations as one of the main factors for warming. Or for solar irradiance 500Mya to actually be significantly lower than the suggested 95% on that graph, for some reason, e.g. IR output has ramped up significantly in the last few million years, but that would make the Sun the major factor for global warming rather than a "mere" 400ppmv atmospheric CO2 :/

              Science is complicated ^^;

      4. cambsukguy

        Re: The fat lady has sung

        >Again, it's just a theory, not confirmed fact.

        This is why I don't believe in Evolution or Gravity, after all, they are just theories.

        And earthquakes are just God having a sneeze presumably since Tectonic plate theory is just, um, a theory.

        1. NumptyScrub

          Re: The fat lady has sung

          quote: "This is why I don't believe in Evolution or Gravity, after all, they are just theories.

          And earthquakes are just God having a sneeze presumably since Tectonic plate theory is just, um, a theory."

          Do the current models, upon which all current economic policy is made, and all catastrophic predictions are being made, support the ability of the planet to be colder than it is today with 4000ppmv (or more!) atmospheric CO2 and a sun running at 95% luminosity?

          That's all I'm asking. It is obvious that we are slowly getting warmer. It is obvious that this has happened before (assuming the maths done by paleoclimatology to be robust). What is most definitely not obvious (to me, at least) is that without us being on the planet it would not be warming. Given those previously quoted estimates of conditions up to 450Mya, it is also obvious to me that either: paleoclimatologists are full of shit, and know nothing about climate (possible but IMO unlikely), or: atmospheric CO2 as the climate devil is being overplayed deliberately as a political tool (far more likely IMO).

          As in, tell the public "shit guys it's only gonna get warmer, you'll need to ditch those beachfront houses because they'll be under water in a couple hundred years and there's nothing we can do" will piss people off, and you are not going to get elected. The people getting elected are the ones that will say "shit guys, it's getting warmer but I can fix this! Vote me in and I can stop all this warming so the planet stays at just the right temperature for ever!".

          Potentially I am the only person coming to this conclusion using this data set, but it's a pretty logical conclusion IMO. The Earth has had a "climate" for all of it's 4.5 billion years, ignoring all but the last 200 is not scientific. Including even just the last 0.5 billion gives you a more complete picture, and doing so calls into question a lot of the "climate facts" being fed to us by politicians, especially the "fact" that all current warming is "obviously" anthropogenic. IMO it's "obviously" not as the last million years have apparently been the coldest "on record" for 300 million years. Using that background, try this phrase out for size: "the last decade has been the hottest on record in the last hundred years, showing that we seem to be rising out of the million-year cold spell. Global temperatures over the next few hundred thousand years are expected to rise up to 2C, affecting polar glaciation and seal levels accordingly."

          I may well be a deluded idiot, but my delusions fit with current climate "facts", and are more pessimistic than most CAGW proponents. I only really differ in that I'm pointing the finger at nature as the warming culprit, rather than anything specifically anthropogenic.

        2. Byham

          Re: The fat lady has sung

          You see Scientific Method is based on the idea of observing nature, creating a hypothesis that explains the observations, then identifying what would falsify the hypothesis then trying to disprove it by carrying out falsifications.

          This approach has been carried out with both Evolution and Gravity and nobody has yet falsified the hypotheses. There are lots of different ideas about how gravity works but its existence can be shown by repeated experiment.

          With Anthropogenic Global Warming the 'green house gas' hypothesis was that small amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere would lead to warming that would increase the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere and as a more powerful green house gas water vapor would increase the warming leading to more water vapor evaporating and so on to thermageddon. Unfortunately, the 'tropical tropospheric hotspot' that should appear with this hypothesis has not appeared - and there has been a lot of searching for it. FALSIFICATION 1. The models all built on the basis of the hypothesis project considerable warming even if the amount of CO2 emitted was to be kept at 1998 levels - all show a considerable amount of warming ... yet the actual global temperatures have remained statistically unchanged for more than 17 years. FALSIFICATION 2.

          There is more but I would remind you of Feynman's statement on this:

          :""n general we look for a new law by the following process. First we guess it. Then we compute the consequences of the guess to see what would be implied if this law that we guessed is right. Then we compare the result of the computation to nature, with experiment or experience, compare it directly with observation, to see if it works. If it disagrees with experiment it is wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science. It does not make any difference how beautiful your guess is. It does not make any difference how smart you are, who made the guess, or what his name is – if it disagrees with experiment it is wrong. That is all there is to it. ""

          Using this approach Anthropogenic Global Warming Theory - is wrong - the computed projections have been compared directly to observation and they are incorrect. That is all there is to it.

          1. NomNomNom

            Re: The fat lady has sung

            "Unfortunately, the 'tropical tropospheric hotspot' that should appear with this hypothesis has not appeared "

            The tropical tropospheric hotspot is not specific to greenhouse warming. It's expected to appear under any cause of warming. It's an expected side effect of warming itself.

            "yet the actual global temperatures have remained statistically unchanged for more than 17 years"

            To falsify the expectation of warming since 1998 we need to demonstrate that there's been no warming. Can we say there's been no warming since 1998? No. Statistically speaking a positive trend since 1998 cannot be ruled out.

    2. Eddy Ito Silver badge

      Re: The fat lady has sung

      "Once again, the great culling begins."

      Yup. One more mass extinction and if it includes humans don't think this great big rock we currently occupy will shed even a single tear. I'm pretty well convinced we're but termites on this rock and when we go the only irony in our small opinion will be that the rock won't care and will go about with whatever the grand plan of the rock was because we're only important to and trying to save ourselves. The rock doesn't care.

      1. h4rm0ny

        Re: The fat lady has sung

        >>"Yup. One more mass extinction and if it includes humans don't think this great big rock we currently occupy will shed even a single tear. I'm pretty well convinced we're but termites on this rock and when we go the only irony in our small opinion will be that the rock won't care and will go about with whatever the grand plan of the rock was because we're only important to and trying to save ourselves. The rock doesn't care."

        So what you're saying is that the rock doesn't care?

        Okay, I can get alongside that. Now make a convincing case that we should care whether the rock cares, or whether we should care about whether we care.

        1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

          Re: The fat lady has sung

          "Now make a convincing case that we should care whether the rock cares, or whether we should care about whether we care."

          I would but I don't care to.

    3. DougS Silver badge

      Re: The fat lady has sung

      You're looking at this with the assumption that human activity is warming the world. If you for a moment look at it with the assumption that the world is warming naturally (we are still coming out of an ice age, climatically) then this shows that natural warming can happen more quickly then previously believed.

      So what this does is tear down one of the "humans must be responsible" arguments, which is that the rate of warming is faster than could possibly have occurred naturally.

      1. Elmer Phud

        Re: The fat lady has sung

        " then this shows that natural warming can happen more quickly then previously believed."

        or 'before records began'

        We've had 'Bid Wet' and 'Big Hot' before.

        We've had 'Big Cold' and Big Dark' , too.

        But we humans is selfish gits and think it's all thier own work - we have too much anthropomorphosising going on.

        There is no 'Mother Earth' or 'Mother Nature' (where the Daddy?)

        1. h4rm0ny

          Re: The fat lady has sung

          >>"There is no 'Mother Earth' or 'Mother Nature' (where the Daddy?)"

          Hey, when your sex is pushed into doing most of the child-raising for a few millennia, then you can have life-sustaining / nurturing entities anthropomorphised as your sex by default. Until then, reap what you sow.

      2. SumDood

        Re: The fat lady has sung

        "So what this does is tear down one of the "humans must be responsible" arguments, which is that the rate of warming is faster than could possibly have occurred naturally."

        I don't think it "tears down" anything.

        However the current ability of humans to affect things on the planet to a much greater extent than ever before in their 1-2 million year history, as a consequence of:

        (i) the rapid advances in technology and engineering in the last century or two (*1) and

        (ii) the exponential growth in the number of humans (*2)

        does tend to suggest that humans can be a little more disruptive these days than they could when they were relatively few in number and lived in caves.

        (*1) i.e. the most recent 0.01% of the span of human existence

        (*2) which will not last forever, of course, as nature has neat little tricks for curtailing exponential population growth

        1. smylar

          Re: The fat lady has sung

          "(ii) the exponential growth in the number of humans" - SumDood

          There is no exponential growth, a slow down in population growth is already built into the system, current average number of children per family (or woman) across the world is now about 2.4, which is about the number you need for a stable population. The population is still going up as all those born in the population boom time have to have their 2.4 children, and those children have to have their 2.4 etc, replacing the fewer people who existed before the boom. It also means there is still a few billion in growth left to go.

          There seem to be very few people who realise this who bleat on about population control when it is in fact an impossibility (without nukes or something draconian) the growth is already in the pipeline, and not necessary - it will stabilise anyway

          1. cambsukguy

            Re: The fat lady has sung

            Projected by that German Professor guy on the TeeVee to reach about 11 Billion before levelling.

            High, scary, but acceptable, given the alternatives.

            Part of the problem will be if that 11 Billion all manage to live like us lucky ones, pissing massive amounts of Carbon into the atmosphere.

            Obviously, we will all stop or slow down somewhat when the oil and gas actually depletes to the point of being stupidly expensive. More warm clothes and efficient transport coming our way. Won't need the warm clothes here of course because of the aforementioned temp rise!

          2. SumDood

            Re: The fat lady has sung

            "There is no exponential growth

            ...

            it will stabilise anyway"

            You could have saved yourself about 10 lines of typing if you'd taken the trouble to read and understand what I said.

            1. smylar

              Re: The fat lady has sung

              I am merely taking exception to your assertion of exponential growth and that nature is going to sort us out, it's wrong. Your argument large numbers of people affect the planet is fair enough

              What I said is that humans ourselves already have that problem under control.

              The large growth is down to the lag between people having loads of children because they are likely to die and realising they should have less because medicine means they won't die and it's costing them a fortune, nothing about nature sorting us out

      3. James Micallef Silver badge

        Re: The fat lady has sung

        "You're looking at this with the assumption that human activity is warming the world. "

        That's a bit more than an assumption. Amount of CO2 in the atmosphere because of human activity is a known quantity and is basic chemistry. CO2 in the atmosphere trapping more warmth in the earth is known to be true and is quite basic physics. So that's a fact, not an assumption.

        The assumptions come in to play when trying to calculate how much - ie, if the average global temperature warmed up be 1 degree, how much of that is human activity, and how much is natural (since, as you say, we are indeed still coming out of an ice age, geologically speaking). Probably there is an argumant to be made that since there are natural mechanisms that speed up warming, then a larger component is natural and a smaller component is human. If these bogs have been (very gradually) thawing for centuries maybe it's possible that a larger portion of CO2 increase in the atmosphere is natural than not.

        A back-of-an-envelope calculation of how much carbon fuels humans have burnt in the last century (together with basic chemistry showing how much CO2 would be produced) correlates pretty closely with observed increase of CO2 though.

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          Re: "Amount of CO2 in the atmosphere because of human activity is a known quantity"

          Really ?

          Because you have measured and recorded every single charcoal fire, log burning and every single emission of coal-burning furnaces all over the world ? Every year ?

          Nice to know. So what are the exact figures, down to the kilo ?

          Of course not. Nobody can. We can, however, agree that with 7 billion people on the face of this planet, the consequences of our activity are more important than when we were just a billion. That is obvious.

          The issue is that everyone is approximating everything without exact figures because we don't have them because it would be prohibitively expensive to record and measure all we need in order to know what it is we need to measure.

          So please do not go around spouting nonsense like we know the quantity of CO2 that we pump out. We don't. We approximate it more or less accurately and then we start deriving conclusions because we have to in order to make mistakes and correct our conclusion-making process in order to make better predictions the next time around.

          1. James Micallef Silver badge

            Re: "Amount of CO2 in the atmosphere because of human activity is a known quantity"

            @Pascal Monett

            "Because you have measured and recorded every single charcoal fire, log burning and every single emission of coal-burning furnaces all over the world ? Every year ?

            Nice to know. So what are the exact figures, down to the kilo ?

            Of course not. Nobody can. "

            Correct, but "down to the kilo" is a ridiculous standard to set when we are talking Gigatons. We DO know down to a close enough approximation, eg see the link below

            http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/08/recipe-for-climate-change/

            "The issue is that everyone is approximating everything without exact figures because we don't have them ..."

            Approximation within known bounds is a completely valid scientific method and is definitely better than throwing hypotheses about with absolutely nothing to back it up. For example as per link posted, first approximation of fossil fuels burned accounts for at least three quarters of OBSERVED increase in CO2 levels. Yes, it's an approximation that surely can vary a bit either way, but based on these figures it seems very very likely that at the bare minimum, more than half of the rise of observed CO2 is man-made.

            If you have what you think is better data or a closer approximation, feel free to share it

            1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

              Re: James Micallef

              Thank you for the link. I have briefly reviewed the page and I will most definitely read it in detail later.

              In any case, that is exactly the kind of information I prefer : scientific, clear and precise, and nothing said without proper justification. Makes a welcome change from all the hyperbole and unfounded exxageration.

              I appreciate this opportunity to educate myself and will relish the opinion revision that it will entail.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "Amount of CO2 in the atmosphere because of human activity is a known quantity"

            Again - just because *you* don't know doesn't mean science doesn't.

            And, no, it's not down to the nearest kilo - you are just being stupid, but it is to within the nearest 10^6 kg which is close enough for the chemistry and carbon balance equations

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The fat lady has sung

          Thanks for this.

          The people who say "humans can't influence the atmosphere" are almost entirely those who have never studied any atmospheric science or geochemistry.

          We know how much carbon has been burned in the past 200 years, we know how much CO2 is produced, we know (to a pretty good extent) where that carbon cycles in the atmosphere, ecosystem and oceans. And yet people who haven't studied this and haven't read anything about the subject continue to see "we don't know". No, *you* don't know because you haven't got any background. Those of us who study the field do know and have been worried and sounding the alarm for the past 30 years.

          What is unknown is the nature of the reactions within the atmosphere and ocean to this rapid loading of greenhouse gases - this is what models are trying to determine. We have a control in the actual planet which we have altered substantially. Not the best way to test theories in atmospheric chemistry and dynamics, but interesting nonetheless.

          In the interest of science I will say there is a vanishingly small possibility that the reaction of the palate to this greenhouse gas loading is that a previously unknown or underestimated feedback takes place to manage the levels. It is much, much more likely, though, that the results will be significant changes to climate and weather systems across the globe - as have already been seen in high latitude and high altitude locations (as also was predicted by science 30+ years ago)

      4. Rik Myslewski

        Re: The fat lady has sung

        @DougS

        "You're looking at this with the assumption that human activity is warming the world."

        As I've asked in these discussions before, what is it about the physics of radiative forcing with which you take issue?

        1. Byham

          Re: The fat lady has sung

          The physics is perfectly good - UNTIL- it is moved from the laboratory and put in a real chaotic atmosphere with overwhelming convective effects and water with its continual swapping of latent heat. Then somehow the physics in the real world with unknown inputs and unknown values for those inputs into a non-linear chaotic system of chaotic systems just don't follow nice simplistic laboratory hypotheses. And people claiming that basic physics applies and drawing straight linear projections through chaotic values just display their abject ignorance - or malfeasance.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The fat lady has sung

        There hasn't been any serious doubt for at least a decade now that global warming is primarily caused by man.

        1. Byham

          Re: The fat lady has sung

          "There hasn't been any serious doubt for at least a decade now that global warming is primarily caused by man." Can you explain how the Earth warmed into the Holocene interglacial in that case? A far more rapid warming of a greater extent. Or are you just chanting a mantra?

          1. NomNomNom

            Re: The fat lady has sung

            "Can you explain how the Earth warmed into the Holocene interglacial in that case"

            I believe the scientific explanation for that is the Earth's tilt meant the northern hemisphere was angled more towards the Sun.

            1. NumptyScrub

              Re: The fat lady has sung

              quote: "I believe the scientific explanation for that is the Earth's tilt meant the northern hemisphere was angled more towards the Sun."

              Since we're talking ~12kya to present (the Holocene being that time range), does that mean that Earth's axial tilt might be involved in the current 12,000 year warming trend? We need to get axial tilting banned, or at least heavily taxed, and ensure that axial untilting companies get government subsidies to help their business model :)

              CAtGW - Catastrophic Axial-tilt Global Warming?

              1. NomNomNom

                Re: The fat lady has sung

                the tilt peaked about 8,000 years ago and has since been reversing, having a cooling effect.

    4. SumDood

      Re: The fat lady has sung

      "We are past the tipping point. Yet we argue that the ship has even sprung a leak."

      The "we" (that argue thus) being a small, but very noisy minority. This corner of the webosphere just happens to be one of the hidey holes where they come to play. Bless.

      1. Squander Two

        Re: The fat lady has sung @ SumDood

        > This corner of the webosphere just happens to be one of the hidey holes where they come to play.

        A site with a large number of readers well versed in technology and science and statistics is one of the places where we see more scepticism of claims made by CAGW proponents? Gosh.

        1. strum Silver badge

          Re: The fat lady has sung @ SumDood

          >A site with a large number of readers well versed in technology and science and statistics

          A large number who pretend to be well versed - in almost everything.

        2. SumDood

          Re: The fat lady has sung @ SumDood

          "A site with a large number of readers well versed in technology and science and statistics is one of the places where we see more scepticism of claims made by CAGW proponents? Gosh."

          >A site with a large number of readers

          OK.

          >Well versed in technology and science and statistics

          Some are, some are patently ignorant of such things (but still interested in reading what the site has to offer). Some have an image of their own competence well beyond their actual competence. Some of those open their mouths wide and talk as if they know what they're talking about.

          Some listen to the latter with mild amusement at their exaggerated sense of self-importance, and then just quietly smile or move swiftly on.

          >One of the places where we see more scepticism of claims made by CAGW proponents

          if you don't recognise the opinionated, unscientific point-of-view epitomised in that statement you are clearly one of the subset with an exaggerated sense if self-importance and a level of scientific understanding towards the bottom end of the readers of this site.

    5. Byham

      Re: The fat lady has sung

      " A team of researchers has discovered new evidence that as the permafrost layer that covers 24 per cent of the Northern Hemisphere continues to thaw as global temperatures increase" == It is really lucky then that global temperatures have NOT been increasing and in fact have stayed the same for more than 17 years. Rather defuses their panic. It also happens that we are the _cold_ end of the Holocene interglacial. Temperatures were much higher at the beginning of the Holocene and Earth has slowly cooled from the early Holocene _optimum_ (meaning good for life) with successively lower warmings the most recent being the Minoan Optimum, the Roman Optimum, the Medieval Warm Period and then the rather wimpy and short lived 20th Century warming which now appears to have peaked as the Earth warmed back up after the Little Ice Age - possibly the coldest the Earth has been since the beginning of the Holocene. These coolings and warmings are cyclical and are not linked to the amount of any gases in the atmosphere. Although following Charles' Law the amount of CO2 outgassing from the oceans increases as ocean temperatures increase - this is visible as the atmospheric CO2 rising up to 800 years after ocean temperatures rise. (But please don't let any 'fat ladies' be upset by science). In the Great Famine 1315 - 1321 the powers that be blamed humans - it must be their fault - for upsetting God for the continual rains and cold leading to mass starvation. These days the religion is CO2 and global warming so when there are natural extremes of weather 'it must be their fault' for burning fossil fuels. Plus ca change.... It is a psychological weakness in some that they have to find someone to blame for perfectly natural extremes, led to a lot of women being burned as witches. We should have grown out of it - but now the proponents can make money and take power. All over 0.3DegC - the kind of temperature change you get from moving from Glasgow to Bristol. Interesting watching 'The Gullibles' panic when the powers that be wave a bogeyman.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The fat lady has sung

      "Although average surface and atmospheric temperatures have stabilized in recent years after peaking in 1998"

      No - they have not stabilised at all. The rate of increase might have slowed by some measures over short time frames, but that is not at all the same thing as having stabilised!

    7. PassingBy

      Re: The fat lady has sung ~~ and confirms the plot line

      In Jan 2000 I first saw the 200 year plot of CO2. An old radio tech, it was recognised as the curve of a runaway positive feedback reaction. (Hairs on arm stand up every time I see or think of it). From experience I forecast then that if 'we' hadn't reduced our output(s) to the planet's absorption ability by 2016-17, then the reaction would be irreversible. A later observation of the permafrost melting was a huge brick under my statement. This news just sends the news that we are wasting our time now, trying to reverse the influence of our pollution. To those who say 'it weren't us", I say: go read up on catalysts. We are the catalyst. To what? Who knows. I'm just glad now my kids aren't going to sire any sufferers.

  2. Denarius
    Flame

    oh good another way to be doomed

    real soon now. It was getting quiet with Tony out of country. Methane, so flame so appropriate. I now await the "OMG, we're all gonna die" brigade procession. on what passes for media these days. Not knocking the research, just what may be extrapolated from it.

  3. Tim Roberts 1

    Get your facts sorted!

    If you are going to quote a reputable source, which you did, then please use it correctly!

    You say this " Although average surface and atmospheric temperatures have stabilized in recent years after peaking in 1998 ...."

    Sceptical Science says this "A look at the Earth's total heat content clearly shows global warming has continued past 1998."

    Sounds a bit like a couple of bob both ways by El Reg.

    1. Thought About IT

      Re: Get your facts sorted!

      Both statements are true: the rate of increase of atmospheric temperatures has declined while the excess heat retained by the greenhouse effect has gone into the oceans and latent heat to melt ice.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Get your facts sorted!

      Ah, Sceptical Science, the noted purveyor of the green dream, so everything they say is true, I think not.

      1. Thought About IT

        Re: Get your facts sorted!

        "Ah, Sceptical Science, the noted purveyor of the green dream, so everything they say is true, I think not."

        Ivan 4, why do you think not?

        1. ian 22

          Re: Get your facts sorted!

          Beef rises to record prices in U.S. due to drought. Wheat, corn harvest apocalypse.

          Perhaps not caused by climate change. Perhaps not caused by humans dumping CO2 into the atmosphere. Perhaps. But most definitely caused by no human attempts to reverse the problem.

          So glad Britain is self sufficient in food stocks. I hear Soylent Green is yummy.

      2. SumDood

        Re: Get your facts sorted!

        "Ah, Sceptical Science, the noted purveyor of the green dream, so everything they say is true, I think not."

        Such a well-substantiated, beautifully reasoned piece of logical deduction. Not.

  4. thx1138v2

    Time for a Bovine Flatulence Credit Exchange? The money could be used to pay farmers and ranchers around the world for the cattle they could have raised but didn't.

    1. David Pollard

      Bovine Flatulence?

      Obligatory xkcd:

      http://xkcd.com/1338/

  5. frank ly
    Flame

    Blue sky thinking

    "Methane is a far more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, ..."

    Flare it off?

    1. Thought About IT

      Re: Blue sky thinking

      Tricky, when it's slowly bubbling up out of a vast area.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
        Coat

        So, nuke it then ?

  6. Faux Science Slayer

    NWO directed, NAS wasted tax money on more AGW garbage....

    "We cannot order men to see truth, or prohibit them from indulging in error" ~ Max Planck

    Well....SURPRISE ! ! ! Planck based his "Law" on Kirchoff, who was WRONG, and then Stefan and Boltzman based their "Laws" on these errors. Then the AGW hypothesis photo-shopped this garbage to create their Chicken Little fable....

    youtube.com/watch?v=3Hstum3U2zw

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Mmm, say what?

      @FSSlayer

      Please, sir, obey your keepers, and take those meds, take those meds. Likely it'll be easy for sane folks to defend themselves from your raving delusions, but the harm you might do to yourself might be irreversible. Take care, m'boy.

    2. SumDood

      "Well....SURPRISE ! ! ! Planck based his "Law" on Kirchoff, who was WRONG, and then Stefan and Boltzman based their "Laws" on these errors. Then the AGW hypothesis photo-shopped this garbage to create their Chicken Little fable...."

      Is that you shouting, Eadon?

      Did you forget to finish with, "FAIL"?

  7. JCitizen
    Boffin

    Methane breaks down faster than CO2...

    But I digress anyway. I'm surprised they didn't mention that methane ice in the oceans, which probably over shadows the land problem by a wide margin, is melting at a break neck pace! I'd think they would mine that stuff as it makes a great energy source. Burning it makes less CO2 than other fossil energy sources, and would probably be relatively cheap, by comparison. Why is it that no one brings up life mass as a measure of carbon entrapment. It isn't just trees that trap carbon you know! What if an explosion of life were to entrap great gobs of carbon? Oh wait! That is what formed coal!

    Anything is better than coal - eventually they will be able to recycle carbon through the food chain and between celullosic ethanol and cow flatulence, we will all be in tall cotton!! Ironically carbon makes a better energy storage source in ultra-capacitors, and is so rapidly becoming a favorite building material, that it could become scarce in the not so distant future! Our cars will soon be made mostly of carbon fiber, nano technology based manufacturing is coming up with all kinds of cheaper materials science for it, and I got a feeling carbon bucky-balls will end up a major contributor to medicine and everything in between! By then they will be complaining that we will be headed for the next ice age! HA!

    1. albaleo

      Re: Methane breaks down faster than CO2...

      "I'd think they would mine that stuff"

      It seems some are trying.

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/9924836/Japan-cracks-seabed-ice-gas-in-dramatic-leap-for-global-energy.html

  8. Elmer Phud

    Yee ha!

    It's gettin' warmer.

    It's getting wetter.

    Do we get dinosaurs coming back as well?

    Jeez, just think of the complaints about methane then.

  9. Richard Barnes

    Moving averages

    Back in 1998, I noticed that the temperature in my fridge (an old one, which I'd had since 1980) was a little too cold and I upped it from 4c to 5c. I'm lucky enough that my fridge is still working and still at 5c.

    I note that the average temperature of my fridge for 2000 to 2010 was higher than for 1990 to 2000, which in turn was higher than for 1980 to 1990. Based on the latest decadal figures, my fridge is continuing its warming trend - maybe it's time for a new one.

    1. Martin Budden Bronze badge
      Coat

      Re: Moving averages

      So what you are saying is, all we need to do is find the planet's thermostat knob and turn it down a notch? Great!

  10. All names Taken
    Paris Hilton

    It may not be a single issue event - temperature change that is - and it may have varied consequence.

    For example

    Gas releases on land and in sea

    Preserved viral thingies and bugs or variants of viral things that might like human hosts

    Then there are sea level issues

    Crops and environment issues

    .

    1. Thought About IT

      You missed ocean acidity increasing as it absorbs CO2. Not good for coral reefs or shellfish from krill upwards.

  11. kyza

    Can you get Lewis to write a counterpoint article to this report, for 'balance'?

  12. itzman
    Black Helicopters

    And yet, temperatures..

    stubbornly refuse to climb.

    PS they aren't REALLY looking for MH 370 down there. They are looking for the missing heat.

    1. NomNomNom

      Re: And yet, temperatures..

      looks like they've found it

      http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/OC5/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/

  13. Scroticus Canis
    Happy

    Look on the bright side...

    ... with all this methane available from the permafrost melting we won't need fracking in order to keep the lights on. Green energy or what!

    Need to rename that pesky permafrost if it isn't permanent; how about interwarmperiodtemporarilyfrozentundra.

    1. Martin Budden Bronze badge
      Coat

      Re: Look on the bright side...

      interwarmperiodtemporarilyfrozentundra

      How about semifreddo? On second thoughts, yours is catchier. Carry on.

  14. Squander Two

    Macro versus micro

    > the global average from 2000 through 2009 was higher than the average for 1990 through 1999, which was warmer than 1980 through 1989.

    Sorry, aren't all those timescales too small to be significant in climatology? Or are they only too small when some inconvenient data threatens to give people the wrong impression?

    1. NomNomNom

      Re: Macro versus micro

      If you want to go on longer timescales then those show warming too

      1980-2010 was warmer than 1970-2000

      1. Squander Two

        1980-2010 was warmer than 1970-2000

        This is an egregious misuse of statistics. If the temperature had been absolutely constant for 1000 years apart from being just 1 degree warmer for 1 month in 2002, then 1980-2010 would be warmer than 1970-2000. Not saying the temperature was constant; I'm saying that's a shitty metric.

        Look, forget about Global Warming and the associated politics for a sec. Assuming you have some scientific or mathematical background, would you ever consider using such a vague, misleading, essentially meaningless, and downright crappy statistic for anything else? I regard this stuff as very basic maths -- I was taught about simple misleading through stats at GCSE -- yet I get harangued for being "anti-science" if I mention it when CAGW proponents do it. As they do all the time.

        1. Thought About IT

          Re: 1980-2010 was warmer than 1970-2000

          · CO2 is a greenhouse gas the effect of which increases with its concentration in the atmosphere.

          · The concentration of CO2 has increased from about 315ppm to 400ppm in the past 50 years.

          · This has resulted in less heat being returned to space, ergo the planet is warming up.

          I regard this stuff as very basic physics. What about you, Squander Two?

          1. Squander Two

            Re: 1980-2010 was warmer than 1970-2000

            > I regard this stuff as very basic physics. What about you, Squander Two?

            Since I didn't argue with or object to any of that, what's your point?

            I should add, though, that climatology is most certainly not very basic physics. It is quite complicated.

            1. Thought About IT

              Re: 1980-2010 was warmer than 1970-2000

              Squander Two, my point is that references to "CAGW" are generally made by those in denial of the basic physics of AGW. I'm pleased to see that you agree that the planet is warming due to our emissions of greenhouse gases.

              1. Squander Two

                CAGW @ Thought About IT

                > references to "CAGW" are generally made by those in denial of the basic physics of AGW.

                Bollocks. References to "CAGW" are made by people who can't be arsed typing out "Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming" more than once a day. There, that was my quota.

                Out of interest, which bit of the name do you object to? Are you saying it's not warming, it's not global, it's not caused by man, or it will actually not be that bad? If none, then surely the description is simply accurate and concise.

          2. NumptyScrub

            Re: 1980-2010 was warmer than 1970-2000

            quote: "· CO2 is a greenhouse gas the effect of which increases with its concentration in the atmosphere.

            · The concentration of CO2 has increased from about 315ppm to 400ppm in the past 50 years.

            · This has resulted in less heat being returned to space, ergo the planet is warming up.

            I regard this stuff as very basic physics. What about you, Squander Two?"

            Maybe you can help then, since I don't see a reply from you on my earlier post: here are calculations of the Phanerozioc CO2 concentrations and a temperature graph of the same timescales. I'm not seeing the correlation between CO2 and global temperature that I would expect to, especially if the effect of CO2 concentrations on global temperatures is actually such "basic physics".

            Could you shed any light on that? Is the correlation between atmospheric CO2 concentrations and global temperature only demonstrably so valid for a mere 200 years, and far less valid for the last 450 million?

            quote: "If you want to go on longer timescales then those show warming too

            1980-2010 was warmer than 1970-2000

            How about this: 1980-2010 was significantly warmer than 9200BC-9170BC (source). Global warming is a proven fact, we're all going to die the planet is trying to kill us. Case closed, no anthropogenic CO2 even needed.

            Of course 1980-2010 is also significantly colder than 80,000,000BC-79,999,970BC (source). However it is also true to say that 100,000,000BC-50,000,000BC, 50 million years give or take, would appear to have a significantly higher average temp than the last 50 million years (50,000,000BC-2014). Using those (contiguous, same size) ranges, we're in a global cooling phase. Or using an overlap, 70Mya-20Mya is warmer than 50Mya to 0Mya, showing an "obvious" cooling trend over the last 70 million years.

            Statistics is complicated ^^;

            Full disclosure: I agree that we are in a warming trend. I agree that CO2 is good at absorbing and radiating in the IR band. I agree that energy policies need a good fucking shake up, and that better renewables and less pollution are a good idea. I agree with pretty much everything that proponents of CAGW want to do, but I do wish that some people would stop providing shaky conclusions, questionable statistics or appeals to emotion and labelling them as "science". Especially when it doesn't take an awful lot of effort to find base data that can be interpreted in a different way, or that can be manipulated to downright contradict some of the conclusions touted as "obvious" or "established" by people who have a good point but a bad way of getting it across.

            And yes, I include myself in that; it's just too tempting to drop to the lowest common denominator sometimes, even though I know I shouldn't. Sorry ^^;

            1. NomNomNom

              Re: 1980-2010 was warmer than 1970-2000

              If I recall correctly a doubling of CO2 is supposed to cause an imbalance of 3.7wm-2, which would be equivalent to about a 1.5% increase in solar output.

        2. SumDood

          Re: 1980-2010 was warmer than 1970-2000

          "yet I get harangued for being "anti-science" if I mention it when CAGW proponents do it. As they do all the time."

          (1) Perhaps if you also mention it when CAGW antagonists do it the haranguing might diminish?

          (2) Perhaps if you acknowledged that the majority of scientists concur with AGW the haranguing might diminish as people saw that you were aligned with prevailing scientific opinion and not putting yourself up as the True Scientist in opposition to actual scientists who who do actual science as their profession?

          Or perhaps they're all out to get you. Damn those nasty scientists and all who believe in them!

          1. Squander Two

            Re: 1980-2010 was warmer than 1970-2000 @ SumDood

            > Perhaps if you also mention it when CAGW antagonists do it the haranguing might diminish?

            If I see bad statistics or crappy reasoning, I do indeed tend to point it out no matter who it's coming from, including if it comes from people whose conclusions I broadly agree with. I also spoil my friends' fun by responding to half their Facebook stories with links to Snopes.

            > Perhaps if you acknowledged that the majority of scientists concur with AGW the haranguing might diminish as people saw that you were aligned with prevailing scientific opinion and not putting yourself up as the True Scientist in opposition to actual scientists who who do actual science as their profession?

            See, this is the problem with you guys. It's actually a very simple point I made, that comparing the average temperatures of the periods 1970-2000 and 1980-2010 gives an essentially meaningless result and is therefore a crap metric, and I gave a nice clear example of why that is. And you have responded not with a single comment about the actual mathematics, but by complaining that (you imagine) I've never made a criticism of anyone on the other side, that anyone who disagrees with you is in a minority, by pointing out that (you hope) I don't do science for a living (as if one needs to be a professional scientist to comprehend a mathematical point as basic as the one I made), and by accusing me of paranoid delusions of grandeur. And yet you claim that it's those who disagree with you who refuse to address actual science.

            So, simple question. Is comparing average temperatures of three-decade periods with two-decade overlaps a good metric? Since I've already given a clear example of why I believe No is the correct answer, please, if answering Yes, either give a good example of your own or explain what was wrong with mine.

            And do bear in mind that what started this part of the argument in the first place was the fact that, if anyone points out the lack of warming since 1998, the response from climatologists is that that's too small a period to be significant in their field. That's not my argument; it's theirs. So fine: if fifteen years is too small to count, fifteen years is too small to count. You are now accusing me of setting myself up as some sort of lone authority figure standing against the tide of climatology because I repeated a point made by climatologists. Which rather backs up my original point that, in this debate, apparently the rules of science and mathematics change depending on which side of the political debate you're on. Can you see how that might undermine people's faith in your science just a tad?

            For the record, I don't believe climatologists, terrible though some of their statistics is, are stupid enough to use that metric. And this is your other problem: the insistence on defending to the hilt not only the claims of CAGW climatologists but also any claims of any passer-by who happens to think that they're right.

            1. NomNomNom

              Re: 1980-2010 was warmer than 1970-2000 @ SumDood

              "that comparing the average temperatures of the periods 1970-2000 and 1980-2010 gives an essentially meaningless result"

              It shows the world has warmed. 1990-2020 likely be even warmer, and 2000-2030, and so on.

              1. Squander Two

                Re: 1980-2010 was warmer than 1970-2000 @ NomNomNom

                > It shows the world has warmed.

                No, it could show various different things, especially including rock-steady temperature with a brief upward glitch during 2000-2010, or with a brief downward glitch during 1970-1980. If you want to demonstrate that the Earth has warmed -- or that it's cooled -- you should use a metric which will give markedly different results for changing temperature and for roughly steady temperature.

                And, to be fair, climatologists do. It's you who didn't. Pointing that out is not an attack on climatology or science.

                1. NomNomNom

                  Re: 1980-2010 was warmer than 1970-2000 @ NomNomNom

                  ....If you want to demonstrate that the Earth has warmed...

                  It has.

                  1. Squander Two

                    Re: 1980-2010 was warmer than 1970-2000 @ NomNomNom

                    > It has.

                    Which doesn't make your metric a good one.

                    You do get how science works, right? Because you're basing your measurement on your conclusion.

                    Out of interest, would you regard it as statistically meaningful to compare the averages for the periods 1800-2000 and 1805-2005?

  15. Brian Souder 1

    Are they forgetting the benefits of more peat bogs?

    Plus once stabilized - I wonder how much additional plant matter increases absorption.

    http://www.snh.gov.uk/about-scotlands-nature/habitats-and-ecosystems/mountains-heaths-and-bogs/peat-bogs/

    Why are peat bogs important?

    Peatlands are a living landscape. Peat builds up at different rates and forms patterns of hummocks and hollows. Viewed from the above the wide expanse of peatlands is studded by lochs and lochans.

    Our peatlands are lands are known for their moorland breeding birds, and interesting plants, like the insectivorous sundews and butterwort. However, the humble bog moss Sphagnum drives the process of peat formation.

    Peat bogs provide benefits for people too:

    Water supply - much of our drinking water comes from peatland areas and is a key ingredient that adds to the flavour of malt whisky.

    Flood management - intact peat bogs stores water and help to maintain steady flow rates on salmon rivers as well as reducing flood risks down stream.

    Sheep grazing - many peatland areas produce store lambs which are sold on for fattening in the lowlands.

    Recreation - whether its red deer stalking, angling or walking these remote, rolling moorlands provide an experience for visitors that is uniquely Scottish.

  16. Brian Souder 1

    Additional Absorption Info - Peat Bogs Pro & Con Mentioned at the bottom

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_sink

  17. Jim Birch

    While methane could be a problem it has the redeeming feature that it is quite reactive so disappears from the atmosphere - basically, converted to CO2 - over a few years. CO2 on the other hand is very stable and is only converted in large quantity by photosynthesis. A lot of what we pump into the atmosphere ends up in dissolved in the ocean so doesn't cause global warming. Unfortunately, the resulting ocean acidification impacts marine life: they find it increasingly difficult to build and maintain carbonate body structures. This includes not just the obvious "shellfish" but also sea grasses, algaes and plankton which are the bottom layer of the ocean food chain. Carbonate is already slightly soluble in seawater so marine organisms expend physiological resources battling personal dissolution. They are able to tweak the solubility in their favor slightly by tricks like adding other minerals to the mix and using biofilms. As the acidity increases the effort required to run these processes increases and limits their productivity. At a higher level the required effort becomes too much and they die. This "dead ocean" scenario with little primary production appears to be well within our capabilities*.

    Worth noting: Half the worlds oxygen production takes place in the sea. Also: I like eating fish.

    * including our capacity for self delusion.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    3CH4 + 6O2 ---> 3CO2 + 6H2O

    The water vapour is more important than the carbon dioxide. Water is a far more efficient greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. By weight, almost half of the oxidized methane becomes water vapour.

    The upshot is, that even if we went all nuclear power for everything, and eventually balanced our carbon and water vapour outbput, we would still need hydrocarbons for things like plastics, paints and other coatings, lubricants...there is a huge list of things we use hydrocarbons for that we do not currently have substitutes for. Have any of you thought about how many trees would have to be cut if made the use of plastic bags illegal? Look around your house and office and name one thing that does not have something made from hydrocarbons on it or in it. Even our adhesives are made from crude oil nowadays. Well, pretty soon we'll be makin' all that same stuff from natural gas or methane, but you get my point.

    All of this flapdoodle over anthropognenic global warming is just that--flapdoodle. We cannot go back to nineteenth century methods for one very important reason. It would be in direct contradiction of the world the greens are dreaming of now. We are far less wasteful today than we were back then. Times are already hard. Let's devote the energy and expertise to getting us out of this economic hole that we have dug for ourselves.

  19. roger stillick
    Joke

    Where is the Methane ??

    Permafrost melts, Artic Birch trees n animals follow... See Alaska n Siberia, after a few months the methane can't be found... See NASA's Alaska 2013 Yukon River scans...

    IMHO= Warming up out of a 50 million frozen ice planet is somehow not bad at all...RS.

    caveiat= per WIKI, our first Frozen Earth lasted 500 million years, the second lasted 150 million years, the present one has lasted 50 million... ( perhaps the Earth is getting better at self regulation ?? ).

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